'Probably Not a Disaster': Conflicted MSNBC Panel Awkwardly Praises Trump Speech

January 26th, 2018 4:05 PM

On Friday’s Morning Joe, a panel of MSNBC commentators watched and subsequently struggled to critique President Trump’s speech in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum. Joe Scarborough spoke slowly and reluctantly as he recounted the topics covered in the speech, even daring to agree with the President’s characterization of an America-first policy.

Guest Richard Haass quickly established himself as the most valuable commentator in the panel’s search for negative spin, pointing out that although the President “didn’t provoke fights with people in the hall,” he also hadn’t addressed such core economic issues as “climate change, refugees” and peace in the Middle East. “Where is the diplomacy on North Korea? Where is the diplomacy on Iran? All of that was essentially left out,” he intoned.

However, Haass admitted that the speech had not bombed: “I also don’t think he caused any real new problems for the United States and relations with the rest of the world.”


Donny Deutsch, now finished with his time-out, chose to critique the President’s delivery. “I have never seen a lower energy level from him... I felt like he was almost going to fall asleep at some point,” he complained. Deutsch ultimately gave the President an A-minus for content, but a D for style.

Scarborough reluctantly praised the President’s description of a cooperative America-first policy: “I’m not declaring this man JFK, so save your tweets, people. I’m just saying that this is a message that sort of takes the edge off of the America-first approach in Davos, Switzerland.”

“Of course, this President is graded on a very low curve,” the host added later. “But again, it probably was not a disaster.”

Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele and Wall Street Journal writer Peggy Noonan offered analyses that were by and large neutral, with Steele concluding that the speech “struck a number of chords that are not what we’re used to hearing and seeing from Presidents in this type of forum.”