Imus would call it a "tension convention." There was palpable friction among members of the Morning Joe team today on the question of whether Secret Service Director Julia Pierson was an affirmative action hire. By the end, the almost unfailingly affable Willie Geist was smirking in frustration at Mika Brzezinski.
When Brzezinski first broached the sensitive-for-liberals subject, she suggested that she was going to go further than her male colleagues dared. But by the time she circled back to the topic, Mika had for some reason lost her nerve. She was suddenly so cautious that Donny Deutsch chided her for raising the issue "softly." Things came to a head when Mika, suddenly trying to sound tough, asked Willie whether it was "illegal" for her to ask why Pierson got her job. Willie, having suggested no such thing, could only smirk and look off camera for support in response to Mika's non sequitur of a question.
Check out the video for a glimpse of some rare unpleasantness amongst the Morning Joe regulars.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Willie, I'm just reading about her. Her career is what it is, but she was tasked with improving the image of the Secret Service in light of the prostitution scandal and I'm not seeing, I'm not sure about the steps in her career and if they match the job. I got to tell you.
WILLIE GEIST: She's had a pretty distinguished career. She's been on the protective details of three different presidents and moved up through the ranks, that wasn't reflected in the performance yesterday, when I think she was sent up there to protect the reputation.
BRZEZINSKI: Well, I'm going to touch on a question that anybody else on this set would be afraid to touch on; I'm just touching on it and I'm not even going to say it. But go ahead, go ahead.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: I just don't really understand why she still has her job, Mika, I don't understand why the White House isn't going after this more aggressively. It is the President, the First Lady and the children who are most at danger right now.
BRZEZINSKI: So I'm going to go further. I want to know why she has that job as the first woman to lead the agency. And I want to know why she still has it. Still ahead, we're going to ask that question.
DONNY DEUTSCH: You did that softly.
BRZEZINSKI: That was soft?
DEUTSCH: That was soft. As opposed to: did she get the job because she's a woman?
BRZEZINSKI: Well she's the first woman to lead the agency and I just, I wan to, I don't understand it. Do you? Do any of you get it at this point?
WILLIE GEIST: Understand what?
BRZEZINSKI: The agency seems to be really coming apart at the seams.
GEIST: Why she still has her job?
GEIST: I don't understand that, but you're asking why she got her job.
BRZEZINSKI: I just want to know. I'm just asking the question. Is that illegal? It's not.
DEUTSCH: I think the question is we've got to be very careful in every instance.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on, Willie. Let me check. I'm checking the law books here, no, it's not illegal.
BRZEZINSKI: It was a good question.
SCARBOROUGH: You can ask the question. Nobody is saying it's illegal, Mika. It's a good question to ask.
BRZEZINSKI: You guys are looking shocked and --
GEIST: Did we? --
SCARBOROUGH: Are you suggesting she got the job because she's a woman, and she still has the job because she's a woman?
BRZEZINSKI: I'm asking how and why she got the job, given the state of the situation there is today, and those inferences other people can make. But it's interesting to me.