When the startling news broke late Thursday that President Trump had accepted an invitation to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, the media intelligentsia begrudgingly shifted their focus away from the Stormy Daniels controversy. But with the leak of an e-mail sent by Trump’s lawyer from his Trump Organization account, they leapt on the excuse to return to their preferred topic.
Between noon and 5:00 p.m. Eastern, the time MSNBC spent a total of 113 minutes on Stormy Daniels, dwarfing the 70 minutes dedicated to North Korea. Nicolle Wallace, host of Deadline: White House gave over twice as much attention to the scandal (31 minutes vs. 14 minutes), as did her colleague Katy Tur (18 minutes vs. seven minutes).
MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell had a full hour of North Korea talk slotted for her show on Friday when news of the leaked email broke. What ensued was a bizarre melding of the topics, in which subsequent hosts rapidly alternated between the two stories, always managing to give more time to the tabloid scandal. A particularly clumsy example occurred during MSNBC Live With Craig Melvin, in which Melvin ping-ponged between two guests, having relegated one to discussing only Daniels while the other analyzed the Korea situation.
Throughout the day, hosts repeatedly inserted references to the adult actress while discussing the President’s upcoming meeting:
“There’s been a lot of talk that the President is trying to deflect from bad publicity about Stormy Daniels with this audible.”
Andrea Mitchell, Andrea Mitchell Reports
“Startling news of the President’s decision to plan that meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un comes, also coming at a time when the President himself is embroiled in quite the domestic controversy: the allegations by adult film star Stormy Daniels.
Craig Melvin, MSNBC Live With Craig Melvin
"Is this a brilliant move, or a brilliant distraction from the chaos in the West Wing?"
Ali Velshi, MSNBC Live With Ali Velshi
There’s no doubt that the President’s spur-of-the-moment decision to meet face to face with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un eclipsed Trump’s sex scandal, if only for a moment.”
Nicolle Wallace, Deadline: White House
Mitchell began parroting the narrative that her colleague Joe Scarborough had pushed earlier that morning – that the meeting with Kim Jong-un was a calculated diversion – and soon other show hosts were following suit. MSNBC Live host Ali Velshi used this line multiple times during his hour, while Wallace's show opened a segment about North Korea with a clip of Scarborough making his case.
Evidently, the newly leaked e-mail being passed around by the press has itself become a distraction.