Haughty Joe Scarborough Warns Trump: ‘The Press Always Wins’

Thursday on Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough urged Donald Trump to realize that “the press always wins” in fights withpoliticians. In the same hour, Scarborough criticized an editorial in The Wall Street Journal for not focusing on, what he considered to be, the most important points following former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation. 

 Scarborough huffed, “Donald Trump has tried to delegitimize the courts…Don't screw with federal judges it never turns out well for you. And the courts won that round. He is trying to delegitimize the press the press has risen up over the past couple of weeks. And as I always say, don't fight the press, the press always wins. Ask Richard Nixon. The press always wins!”

 Co-host Mika Brzezinski introduced the segment by speaking about the New York Times report on Trump which explained the President is looking to change the intelligence community with a review of the nation’s spy agencies. She continued by mentioning The Wall Street Journal as well: 

A new report in today's Wall Street Journal alleges that intelligence officials have withheld sensitive information from the President, due to concerns it could be leaked or compromised…the report says the current and former officials emphasized that they know of no instance in which crucial information about security threats or potential plotting has been omitted.

This prompted Scarborough to whine: “There is no doubt The Wall Street Journal has gone from being the most hostile conservative voice towards Donald Trump during the campaign to certainly now, seeming to bend over backwards to actually parrot much of what the administration puts out.” 

 Scarborough continued, bringing former editor of The Wall Street Journal David Ignatius, into the conversation. “If you looked at their editorial yesterday, David Ignatius, not to knock any papers specifically or an editorial board but, an–  editorial board that was hypercritical of Donald Trump during the campaign. Yesterday, they used their editorial page to say, ‘Oh, there is nothing to see here other than leaks coming from Intel agencies.’”

Ignatius answered Scarborough, prefacing that he once worked for the Journal and knows the ins and outs of the paper: “I just want to stress, I once worked for The Wall Street Journal for ten years as a reporter. The iron wall between the news and editorial side of that paper is stronger than at most. The issue that the Journal has been struggling with is, has there been any attempt to shape the coverage as opposed to the editorials which are always going to be opinionated and change over time…”

Scarborough was of course unsatisfied with his response, so he asked: “David, were you concerned yesterday…the lead editorial for The Wall Street Journal did not even mention any concerns about improper contacts that Michael Flynn had with Russia? But instead, their editorial focused solely on leaks. It was as if Donald Trump had written the editorial himself.”

Ignatius answered, attempting to reason with Scarborough: “Joe, it was an editorial. It's not the editorial position that I would have written. I don't agree with it. I think to argue this is about leaks as opposed to the behavior of our public officials is wrong. But it's an editorial. I would be concerned if I felt that that editorial was matched idea for idea in the news coverage and I don't see that happening.”

Scarborough sought once more to sway the former editor by saying:

But David Ignatius, look at the headline today. Again, this is sort of what we do. We look at media and we pound The New York Times all the time but that, yesterday has followed up on the top of The Wall Street Journal with "Spies keep intelligence from Trump…  That is a screaming headline. You dig down into the story and you actually find out that they don't have one single instance of where important intelligence was kept from the President of the United States.

Ignatius finally giving in a little, but still not as much as the host would’ve liked, answered: "They have a pretty good quote from Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee. The story is thin beyond that quote– so I didn't think it was a blockbuster.”

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Here is the transcript of the February 16 exchange:

MSNBC - Morning Joe
2/16/17
6:00AM Segment 
[6:00:18- 6:16:48]

Clip of Donald Trump:

DONALD TRUMP: Michael Flynn, General Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he has been treated very, very unfairly by the media. As I call it, the fake media in many cases. And I think it's really a sad thing that he was treated so badly. I think, in addition to that, from intelligence, papers are being leaked, things are being leaked. It's criminal action. Criminal act. And it's been going on for a long time, before me, but now it's really going on and people are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton. 

MIKA BRZEZINSKI:  Why was he fired then if it was just the fake media? 

JOE SCARBOROUGH: It could have been a fake firing. Maybe he really wasn't fired. Because if – 

DONNY DEUTSCHE: Or Hillary could have fired him, actually. If I draw the line, Hillary fired him. 

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: No but I thought he was strong. Strong.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: It could’ve been a fake firing. 

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: The fake media could never get him. 

SCARBOROUGH: It was a fake firing. 

BRZEZINSKI: He is blaming Michael Flynn's resignation on the news media? 

SCARBOROUGH: No. He dido that. He was just– No I don’t think

BRZEZINSKI: Well this is a messed up way of saying good morning, everyone. It is Thursday,  February 16th. 

SCARBOROUGH: No, I don’t think so

DONNY DEUTSCHE: No no– 

BRZEZINSKI: He was treated badly? 

DONNY DEUTSCHE: He wasn’t blaming because he clearly fired him himself– 

SCARBOROUGH: He fired him himself 

BRZEZINSKI: He fired him– 

DONNY DEUTSCHE: Based on what the spokesperson– 

SCARBOROUGH: Because he lied

DONNY DEUTSCHE: Said he couldn't trust him so therefore 

BRZEZINSKI: No no no. I think he fired him because he was caught in a lie.

DONNY DEUTSCHE: That's the media's fault. 

BRZEZINSKI: I'm not sure the lying is actually considered bad. 

SCARBOROUGH: He was caught in a lie– yeah– 

BRZEZINSKI: I think being caught in a lie is bad, which is a great message to send to our children, by the way. Let alone how to run a country. 

SCARBOROUGH: Well he got caught in a lie, right? 

MIKE BARNACLE: How about he fired them because they both got caught? 

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah they– f–  They got caught in a lie. 

BRZEZINSKI: With us on the set we have veteran columnist and MSNBC contributor Mike Barnacle. Donny Deutsche – Moral compass– This administration-- does not have one

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah that’s what we call Mike Barnacle the legendary moral compass. Senior political editor and White house correspondent for The Huffington Post. This is taking way too long and also I’ve got to say a man who this time of year is absolutely -- I am still on Sam Stein, go back to Sam Stein. Absolutely obsessed with picking his fantasy leagues for Australian rules football, our own Sam Stein. And columnist and associate editor for The Washington Post, David Ignatius. David, a lot of weeds to clear out. 

BRZEZINSKI: I mentioned Donny, right? 

DAVID IGNATIUS: Yeah, I brought my weed whacker. 

SCARBOROUGH: A lot of weeds to sort of sort through and clear out – 

BRZEZINSKI: Kind of can’t miss them

SCARBOROUGH: And it's hard to say exactly what is going on. We have--- heard reports that there are – parts of this story that the weeds go further and will be more in snarling. We have heard other sources have also told us the reporting that the stories about the contacts, David, during the campaign were actually not extensive and that story may not be as significant of a story. But there is no doubt, I'm sure you're hearing the same thing as I am, that Donald Trump's contacts with Russia, the Intel community sources I speak with say there still is more to come there. 

DAVID IGNATIUS:  There still is a lot more investigation to complete. There is a broad look by the FBI, aided by other intelligence agencies, to establish what happened during this period when Russia was mounting an aggressive covert action against our political system? What contacts were made? How were things paid for? Who are the cut-outs that the Russians used? All the things that you would have in a normal counterintelligence or– moving into a criminal investigation are going on here now. Now these investigations take a long time. I think people need to be very careful about little kind of droplets of information that pop out, because it's a big systemic investigation. The best hope is it’ll be conducted professionally and that at the end of the day, we will actually know what happened. We will have real facts and we can begin to make decisions. 

SCARBOROUGH: Yes. And again that’s the key. I said it a couple of days ago, let's not get ahead of the facts. Let's have the investigations, they need to be extensive investigations, but don't get ahead of the facts. I saw this so many times during the Clinton administration. We would always find some information and this was going to be the end of Bill Clinton and there was a buzz around Washington, D.C. Everybody always got ahead of the fact. Let's not. 

BRZEZINSKI:  I– I don't think there is a need to do that. 

SCARBOROUGH: No

BRZEZINSKI: But it's time to see what we see. 

SCARBOROUGH: And we see the need for an extensive investigation, I think. 

BRZEZINSKI: Absolutely. 

SCARBOROUGH: Bipartisan 

BRZEZINSKI: The New York Times reports that President Trump is looking to shake up the intelligence community with a broad review of the nation's spy agencies. According to the report, Steven Fineberg, a billionaire private equity executive is President Trump's choice to lead the review. But it could be a prelude to a larger role in intelligence. Quote, reports that Feinberg was under consideration to run the clandestine service rocked the intelligence community in recent weeks.. Raising the prospect of direct White House control over America's spies at a time when a Trump's ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin are under investigation by the FBI and congressional committees. This as a new report in today's Wall Street Journal alleges that intelligence officials have withheld sensitive information from the President due to concerns it could be leaked or compromised. The paper cites current and former officials. However, the report says the current and former officials emphasized that they know of no instance in which crucial information about security threats or potential plotting has been omitted. 

SCARBOROUGH: By the way, we just have to say this right now again for people who are watching and are trying to sort through this. There is no doubt The Wall Street Journal has gone from being the most hostile conservative voice towards Donald Trump during the campaign to certainly now, seeming to bend over backwards to actually parrot much of what the administration puts out. If you looked at their editorial yesterday, David Ignatius, not to knock any papers specifically or an editorial board but, an–  editorial board that was hypercritical of Donald Trump during the campaign. Yesterday, they used their editorial page to say, oh, there is nothing to see here other than leaks coming from Intel agencies. 

DAVID IGNATIUS:  Well, I– with the journal, I just want to stress, I once worked for The Wall Street Journal for ten years as a reporter. The iron wall between the news and editorial side of that paper is stronger than at most. The issue that the journal has been struggling with is, has there been any attempt to shape the coverage as opposed to the editorials which are always going to be opinionated and change over time and– that’s the thing that newsroom has been talking about and worrying about. 

SCARBOROUGH: Well David, were you concerned yesterday, the– editorial, the lead editorial for The Wall Street Journal did not even mention any concerns about improper contacts that Michael Flynn had with Russia? But instead, their editorial focused solely on leaks. It was as if Donald Trump had written the editorial himself. 

IGNATIUS:  Joe, it was an editorial. It's not the editorial position that I would have written. I don't agree with it. I think to argue this is about leaks as opposed to the behavior of our public official is wrong. But it's an editorial. I would be concerned if I felt that that editorial was matched idea for idea in the news coverage and I don't see that happening. 

SCARBOROUGH: But David Ignatius, look at the headline today. Again, this is sort of what we do. We look at media and we pound The New York Times all the time but that, yesterday has followed up on the top of the The Wall Street Journal with  "Spies keep intelligence from Trump." 

IGNATIUS: Yes

SCARBOROUGH: That is a screaming headline. You dig down into the story and you actually find out that they don't have one single instance of where important intelligence was kept from the President of the United States. 

IGNATIUS: They have – they have a pretty good quote from Adam Shift, the ranking Democrat on the house intelligence committee. The story is thinned beyond that quote– so I didn't think it was a blockbuster. 

SCARBOROUGH: The story is thin. And look at this headline, guys. This is not to David I am going to take David off the – hot spot. It is an extraordinarily thin story, but Mike, again, yesterday, instead of talking about Flynn, yesterday, their lead editorial, The Wall Street Journal, the editorial page that I've read my entire life, yesterday, they say nothing to see here with Flynn. Forget the improper ties. Forget the lying. Forget everything else. We ought to look at the leaks. And now look at this headline today on the front page, "Spies Keep Intelligence from Trump." In a story that is thinly sourced and even their thin sources say, well, at the end of the day we really don't have anything here. 

MIKE BARNACLE: Well–  I think, you know, David and I are going to come from the same classroom on this. I don't care what is in the editorial, on the editorial page, as long as what is in the editorial page seeps into the coverage. 

SCARBOROUGH: And my point is, it appears to be matched. 

BARNACLE: But, well, also, you write the story and I have always– I think David is probably the same as I am. I'm not responsible for the headlines. I don't write the headlines. I write the story, I don't write the headlines. Some guy in the copy desk wrote that headline.–  

SCARBOROUGH: You think some guy in the copy desk wrote that headline Mike? 

BARNACLE: I think probably – a little bit more than the copy desk

SCARBOROUGH: Or do you think–  it might have come down from above?

BARNACLE: No I don't think it came down from above. I think it came from–  

SCARBOROUGH: You don’t think so?

BARNACLE: I think it came down from middle management in the news

SCARBOROUGH: I don't think this is middle management. 

BRZEZINSKI: Well– 

BARNACLE:  But if you read the story, if you read the story, the story is very thin. The president is still getting the intelligence -- 

DEUTSCHE:  I agree, Joe, with the way you're covering the journal but– There is something that happens sometimes with employers/employees relationships where you turn to each other and you go, this is not working out. And, you know, where I see right now at day 27, a White House -- 

SCARBOROUGH: Hold on one second. Hey Sam, I think what Donny is trying to say is we thank you for being with us. ---- You can take the rice a Roni at the door and take the Rice Roni and go home! 

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah maybe a different day

DEUTSCHE: You have a White house with– 

SAM STEIN: My fantasy draft is in 20 minutes, so I would appreciate that! 

DEUTSCHE: You have a White House with– with no organization, no organization skills. You have this Russia connection that continues to unfold fuggly, in a very fuggly way. And you also on top of it– and the net is, we have a White House that’s getting nothing done as far as policy when you compare what happened to Obama after 30 days and W after 30 days. And no matter how you peek at this thing, this just feels like a president– a guy that doesn’t belong in that job. I mean and it’s becoming more and more apparent. 

STEIN: Well, let me jump in here 

SCARBOROUGH: Jump in 

STEIN: Yeah I mean, I think to tie this all together, the subtext of the journal story and what you mentioned about Steven Feinberg taking over this Intel review, I think is- it goes to Donny's point, which is that instead of sort of looking at the Flynn -- I think you could call it a fiasco at this point, and trying to figure out what exactly was happening with Russia prior to the election, the–  outcome here seems to be pointing in towards a massive purge coming directed by the administration of the Intel community of potential leakers. And you're seeing this seep into, not just the coverage in The Wall Street Journal, but also what is going on Capitol Hill too. Last night, Jason Chaffetz, the chair of the house oversight committee put out a letter. His first--  call for an investigation into the Flynn matter. The investigation he wants is whether classified information was leaked to these reporters with respect to Flynn's phone calls. And I think what you're -- where we are going with this is sort of a fairly dark place which is, a massive tamp down on whistle blowers, a massive purge of the Intel community of people who the Trump administration feels are unsympathetic to their cause and may have precipitated Flynn's dismissal – 

SCARBOROUGH: Of course!

STEIN: Resignation, firing or what not. And I think that suggests someone who is sort of grasping for control, as Donny points, and doesn't have a good grasp right now. 

SCARBOROUGH: And David Ignatius, this is also someone, this billionaire, is also someone with very close connections with Steve Bannon. So Steve Bannon put, remarkably, was put on the national security council where he does not belong. And now they are having a close business tie, they hope to bring him in to purge the Intel agencies? 

IGNATIUS: This move to bring in the President's personal emissary as it were, to review and adjust the activities of the intelligence services is going–  to really bite -- these people think of themselves as professionals. They— 

SCARBOROUGH: They are professionals 

IGNATIUS: They do not like being -- and they have professionals. They risk their lives every day trying to keep the country safe. They don't get much credit. When military officers walk across an airport, we all stop and we clap and we thank them for their service. These guys, basically, skulk around and they don't want anybody to notice them. And their heroism is not noted or appreciated. 

SCARBOROUGH: And when they die for their country, there are no parades. They put a star on a wall. 

BARNACLE: Joe, this is the President of the United States in a small handful of people in the west wing in the White House going to war with specific agencies of the government, of their government, of our government. That is what this is. 

DEUTSCHE: Beyond reprehensible. It's damn stupid also. 

SCARBOROUGH: Well and we have been saying that since November. You pick a fight with the Intel community, you're picking a fight with the wrong community and, Mika, also, the Republicans on Capitol Hill, I've got to say, I spoke to quite a few senators the other day. It was really impressed with the Republican senators who basically said we are here. We are shoulder-to-shoulder. If he steps out of line, our duties are the constitution of the United States. Judicial review, you're damn straight. Mitch said it on camera. All of the other Republicans I spoke to said it too. This President does not have unlimited powers. This President will be checked by the courts just like we will be checked by the courts. But you look on the house side, I'm hearing -- well, Paul also. Paul Ryan also very strong in conversations off the record as well. Saying we do our job. If the time comes we do our job. But some of these Republicans, I'm just going to say it, Jason Chaffetz– 

BRZEZINSKI: What happened? 

SCARBOROUGH: Some of the things he’s been saying– has been saying have been shameful and a lot of the Republicans that were cheering the leaks from the Intel community and from Wikileaks when it involved Hillary Clinton, cheering it every day. Are now suddenly wanting to have a witch hunt and go through town with torches blazing, and have a Mccarthy type of purge?     

DEUTSCHE I want to ask Joe a question based on what you just said Joe because you talk to so many people based on Republicans. Are you getting a sense that literally one month into this, you have a band of Republicans who are starting their -- their eyes are starting to pick up above the surface that you know what? There is going to be a point in time where we are all gonna raise our hand and say this is not our guy any more. 

SCARBOROUGH: Well and–  Listen– They are already saying that. But there’s quiet. They look back in their districts and right now Donald Trump has a 40% approval rating in Gallup and probably a lot higher in their districts, so they will see what happens. But they are all there and they all know, if the time comes, their loyalty is to their country and to their party and not to Donald Trump. And they said it. 

BRZEZINSKI: Yesterday, the President also tweeted, quote, the real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by intelligence like candy. Very un-american! And information is being illegally given to the failing The New York Times and The Washington Post by the intelligence community NSA and FBI? Just like Russia. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Wait. Is that meant as a compliment, Mika? I am just curious

BRZEZINSKI: You know, honestly, honestly– 

SCARBOROUGH: Is that meant like a compliment? 

BRZEZINSKI: Honestly, I don't know. 

SCARBOROUGH: Oh okay.

BRZEZINSKI: Nor should you. 

SCARBOROUGH: I don't. I’m confused.

[6:18:25 - 6:18:54]

JOE SCARBOROUGH:  I guess the question we have to ask going forward, what -- Donald Trump has tried to delegitimatize the courts and it reminds me of the old Eddie Cochran song. "I fought the law and the law won." Don't screw with federal judges it never turns out well for you. And the courts won that round. He is trying to delegitimize the press the press has risen up over the past couple of weeks. And as I always say, don't fight the press, the press always wins. Ask Richard Nixon. The press always wins!

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