After insisting for months that President Trump has been undermining one of America’s most vital institutions with his attacks on the news media, the hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe briefly dropped their act. On Tuesday, host Joe Scarborough admitted that as a member of the media, attacking Trump is just “what we do.”
Scarborough and fellow co-host Mika Brzezinski have had a tumultuous relationship with the President, and indeed their largely favorable treatment of him during the 2016 primaries now seems almost impossible to imagine. But the relationship between Trump and the news media in general has been unprecedentedly vicious since he declared his presidential run in July of 2015.
On rare occasions, the media have shown their hand and admitted to their vehement anti-Trump bias. One particularly notable example was Jim Rutenberg’s New York Times article published in August of 2016, which described a Trump presidency as “potentially dangerous” and admitted the Times’s “reporting [would] reflect that.” However, Scarborough and Brzezinski have consistently maintained that their coverage of the President has been both fair and honest.
That all went out the window on Tuesday. In a segment about President Trump’s response over the weekend to Robert Mueller’s recent indictment of Russian saboteurs, Scarborough appeared dumbfounded that the President was still affected by the media’s unfair treatment of him.
“Like, how could you be shocked, if you were Donald Trump, that the media is going to say negative things about you?” he wondered aloud, evidently baffled that the President had not yet made his peace with media bias. He added with a smirk, “It’s like a Geico ad. It’s what we do.”
As if to prove his point, Scarborough went on to sarcastically mock the President for his tweets. He alleged that Trump was “obsessed” with the Russia investigation, and that Mueller had “gotten into his head with those indictments on Friday.” With mock concern, he continued:
He’s freaked out. He’s panicked... It’s unbecoming. His lawyer should tell him to stop tweeting about that, because it suggests that he feels like he has something to hide.
Scarborough’s behavior Tuesday fit his established pattern of partisan rhetoric interrupted by brief, uncomfortable bouts of clarity and self-awareness. Given the gravity of his most recent admission, he most likely won't be due for another such moment of honesty for a few weeks.