Morning Joe Paints Trump as a Sociopathic Dictator After Puerto Rico Visit

On Wednesday’s Morning Joe, both the hosts and the rest of the panel spent a significant amount of time covering President Trump’s visit yesterday to Puerto Rico. In so doing, they repeatedly and shamelessly suggested that Trump was a sociopath who would not help Puerto Rico if its leaders did not bow down to him.

The show started off with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski misrepresenting the public conference that the President held with both federal and local government officials in Puerto Rico on Tuesday:

[Clip from Trump’s meeting with officials in Puerto Rico yesterday]

DONALD TRUMP: If you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died [...] what is your death count as of this moment, seventeen?

GOV. RICARDO ROSSELLO [D-PR]: Sixteen, certified.

TRUMP: Sixteen people certified. Sixteen people versus in the thousands, you can be very proud [...]

[end clip]

JOE SCARBOROUGH: That is uh, that is beyond inappropriate.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: President Trump visits Puerto Rico and compares the disaster there to the quote “real” catastrophe of hurricane Katrina.

Because of the editing job that the show did on Trump’s statements, they were not represented truthfully. Trump’s fuller comments were:

TRUMP: Mick Mulvaney is here, right there, and Mick is, uh, in charge of a thing called budget. Now, [joking tone] I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you've thrown our budget a little out of whack [end joking tone] because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that's fine. We’ve saved a lot of lives. If you look at the, every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overpowering, nobody's ever seen anything like this. And what is your death count as of this moment, seventeen?

GOV. RICARDO ROSSELLO [D-PR]:Sixteen, certified.

TRUMP: Sixteen people certified. Sixteen people versus in the thousands. You can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people, working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people. You can be very proud. Everybody around this table and everybody watching can really be very proud of what’s taken place in Puerto Rico.

Trump used much of the meeting to praise the various military branches, including the Navy and the Coast Guard, and other government agencies that have been and are still working to help Puerto Rico recover from the two serious hurricanes that it has gone through.

 

 

However, watching Morning Joe’s coverage, you would not have gotten that impression at all:

SCARBOROUGH: First, before we get into the news, everybody was talking about, just, all of the missteps-

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] I got so many texts yesterday.

SCARBOROUGH: -that the President had yesterday in Puerto Rico. First of all, throwing paper towels at the victims of the hurricane like it was a game, I have never seen anything like that before.

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] Ever.

SCARBOROUGH: And then saying: boy, you are lucky you didn't face a real catastrophe.

BRZEZINSKI: [imitating Trump] You should be proud.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, when Willie, the stories coming out of Puerto Rico every day really keep getting worse. You know, drinking water. What, maybe over half the population doesn't have drinking water. People have been stranded up on hillsides for, since the storm came through.

WILLIE GEIST: [interrupting] No electricity.

SCARBOROUGH: No electricity. No electricity. It is, it is a grim, exceedingly grim situation being faced by many residents of that island and Donald Trump goes in and goes: you’re lucky you’re not facing a real catastrophe.

Trump’s comments from the conference, with full context, were clearly not about diminishing either Hurricanes Irma or Maria, but rather about praising the work that local and federal officials have done to keep two very serious hurricanes from turning into a situation like Hurricane Katrina, which was ultimately responsible for more than 1800 deaths. Trump may be comparing the current situation to Katrina because some political pundits have done the same in an attempt to smear the President.

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The panel went on to keep mischaracterizing the San Juan conference and ended up playing the role of armchair psychologists:

SCARBOROUGH: Well, and, and again, what he did-

BRZEZINSKI: [talking under Joe] This is embarrassing.

SCARBOROUGH: -throughout was inappropriate. It was, it was bizarre behavior. It was, it was celebratory when this is an island that’s struggling. And, we see once again, John Heilemann, once again another example over the past week, what many people have always said about him, a basic lack of humanity. We saw it with him attacking and whipping up a crowd into a frenzy to boo John McCain last week. We saw it over the weekend when the people of Puerto Rico were struggling and he was calling them, basically, ingrates. Yesterday, he goes there and he says: boy you’re really busting our budget. Really? Really? Wou-, I mean, would we like to go down the lists, how much his tax cuts are going to end up costing the country? And it will cost the country.

(...)

SCARBOROUGH: It, it, it really, it’s, it’s staggering.

BRZEZINSKI: He’s just so disconnected.

SCARBOROUGH: The lack, the basic lack of humanity and the growing concern that's always been there, this man is disconnected from reality, at least in communications, the way one human being speaks to another human being. The way a president is supposed to speak to constituents and people in need. He is incapable of even doing the most basic things.

BRZEZINSKI: Unfit.

JOHN HEILEMANN [NBC NEWS, NATIONAL AFFAIRS EDITOR]: Yeah, I think it’s a, and it’s a, and it’s a particular aspect of humanity. It’s this thing and it’s not the first time that anyone’s said it. We’ve talked about it, in fact, since he’s come on the public stage. But it’s this particular quality of empathy that he lacks. There’s a, he does things that are cruel sometimes in the case of John McCain. These are various issues. But in this case, you know, one of the most fundamental things you need to do as President of the United States in a circumstance like this, when people are suffering, people have been suffering, is not that you play comparative games, this is worse than that, not to talk about yourself, not to boast about how well you’re doing, or how, you know, none of this. It should be about these constituents and about, you know, to use the famous Clinton phrase, about feeling their pain. It’s a really, it’s actually not that hard. And I, I,-

SCARBOROUGH: [interrupting] Well it’s not hard at all, which is-

HEILEMANN: -it’s not that hard. You could do it [garbled], great political talents, great presidents do it, some of them do it exquisitely well, some of them do it adequately. But it’s not that hard to do it adequately because it’s a basic function of being a human being who sees someone in pain and is able to understand that and feel for the person who is suffering.

SCARBOROUGH: And to even though, Harold Ford, what is appropriate and what is not appropriate, you wonder where this 71 year-old man has lived his entire life? You wonder, has he so insulated himself from human beings, has he so insulated himself from suffering that he doesn't know how human beings react to wha-? I mean, of course, listen. We all know he’s always had a harsh side. He’s always, he’s always had a bully, always had a bully inside of him.

(...)

SCARBOROUGH: [Y]ou see this growing body of actions and you say: this man is disconnected from basic norms of social behavior.

FORD: The empathy, the inspiration, the emotion for him mostly comes from wanting to defend himself. You know, I think you and John said it best. He finds himself in a moment where people are expecting this from him, a human side from him, a humane side from him. And all he really gives us is, he wants to defend himself. He was most offended when he arrived in Puerto Rico the fact that the mayor of San Juan had been critical of his administration's efforts. So as Willie said, he spent the bulk, if not all of that press conference, with, it was a weird setup around the table with like 30, 40 people in that auditorium praising him and praising the people around him. So it, it’s, it’s, again, it’s consistent with whom he is and I hope, one can only pray he gets better.

(...)

BRZEZINSKI: Do you think he understands that more people will die as disease spreads and water is hard to come by and children get skin diseases and eye infections and people suffer ‘cause they are not working and they can't go to school and there’s no infrastructure?

SCARBOROUGH: I don't think the issue is, I don’t think the issue is whether he understands or not. I think the issue is whether he cares or not.

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] Or whether he’s fit.

SCARBOROUGH: For him, this is a Twitter fight. For him, this isn't about the people down there. If it were, he wouldn't have behaved the way he did yesterday. That’s a pretty objective fact, that’s not subjective, that’s an objective fact that yesterday he went down to Puerto Rico, an island that was suffering, U.S. citizens that have been suffering, who will continue to suffer for years from what's happened to them over the past several months, and he somehow managed to make it all about himself.

The above is a great example of Morning Joe spinning out of control over the latest Trump spectacle. First, they grossly mischaracterize something Trump has said. Next, based on that misconstrual, they go into overdrive trying to one-up each other by saying increasingly unhinged things about Trump. Finally, they end up all supporting some half-baked diagnosis of mental illness or some other psychological issue.

In this case, without using the words, they all collectively arrived at one conclusion: Trump is a narcissistic sociopath. He has “a basic lack of humanity,” he lacks “empathy,” he’s “cruel,” he’s unable to perform the “basic function of being a human being who sees someone in pain and is able to understand that and feel for the person who is suffering,” and on, and on, and on.

But the panel wasn’t done. Having already hinted at it before, the panel decided to openly accuse Trump of being a despot who would not help Puerto Rico unless they supplicated before him:

BRZEZINSKI: At the start of the visit, he held a meeting with federal and local officials where he came face to face with the mayor of San Juan.

[playing clip]

TRUMP: Hello, how are you?

MAYOR CARMEN YULIN CRUZ [D-SAN JUAN]: Sir, I don’t want to upset you. It’s all about saving lives, but it’s not about politics.

TRUMP: [mouths “thank you” to the mayor, looks at others] Thank you, thank you everybody.

[end clip]

[someone audibly huffs]

FORD: She had to apologize to him. She’s out trying to deliver and take care of people in her city. He ought to have been ashamed of himself.

SCARBOROUGH: You know how that goes, Harold. The President comes to your district. Your people have been, your people are facing enormous suffering and you just can't afford to upset the President. So whether he’s wrong or not, you know that FEMA, you know the SBA, you know that every other agency is going to move at his direction. So, she actually-

BRZEZINSKI: [interrupting] You notice, she’s a woman.

SCARBOROUGH: -for, no, no, I was just gonna say, Mika, for people that are outraged that she apologized to him, your outrage should all be channeled towards the President of the United States. She was actually being a leader, even though she was in the right, she knew she had to say that. And of course, because he lacks any humanity and he is the most graceless president to be in the Oval Office in our history, he turns his head and says nothing, because, at the end of the day, uh, at the end of the day, he is utterly devoid of humanity or grace.

Despite the panel’s assertions, at least based on the clip they played, it did not appear that Mayor Cruz actually apologized to Trump for her recent crusade through the major news networks accusing Trump and his government of letting Puerto Ricans die.

More troubling, however, was Scarborough’s barely concealed accusation that Trump would yank aid and support from Puerto Rico and let people there die if the Mayor of San Juan didn’t apologize to Trump (which she didn’t even appear to do).

No one on the panel bothered to push back against Joe’s insinuation, and instead kept accusing Trump of sociopathy whenever the topic of Puerto Rico came up.

Below is a full transcript of the relevant segments from the broadcast:

5:59 AM EST

[playing clip from Trump’s meeting with officials in Puerto Rico yesterday]

DONALD TRUMP: If you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died [...] what is your death count as of this moment, seventeen?

GOV. RICARDO ROSSELLO [D-PR]: Sixteen, certified.

TRUMP: Sixteen people certified. Sixteen people versus in the thousands. You can be very proud [...]

[end clip]

JOE SCARBOROUGH: That is uh, that is beyond inappropriate.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: President Trump visits Puerto Rico and compares the disaster there to the quote “real” catastrophe of hurricane Katrina. He also tries out his personal touch with the victims by playfully tossing paper towels to the people in need. We are going to break down his trip.

(...)

6:01 AM EST

SCARBOROUGH: First, before we get into the news, everybody was talking about, just, all of the missteps-

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] I got so many texts yesterday.

SCARBOROUGH: -that the President had yesterday in Puerto Rico. First of all, throwing paper towels at the victims of the hurricane like it was a game, I have never seen anything like that before.

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] Ever.

SCARBOROUGH: And then saying: boy, you are lucky you didn't face a real catastrophe.

BRZEZINSKI: [imitating Trump] You should be proud.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, when Willie, the stories coming out of Puerto Rico every day really keep getting worse. You know, drinking water. What, maybe over half the population doesn't have drinking water. People have been stranded up on hillsides for, since the storm came through.

WILLIE GEIST: [interrupting] No electricity.

SCARBOROUGH: No electricity. No electricity. It is, it is a grim, exceedingly grim situation being faced by many residents of that island and Donald Trump goes in and goes: you’re lucky you’re not facing a real catastrophe.

GEIST: If you watch that event from start to finish, it was truly bizarre. The tone and the tenor of what was being said and the way it was being said was celebratory. It was like they’d finished a mission and they were there to celebrate it and toast to it. Meanwhile, as you point out, there’s devastation right outside the door where he was sitting. And you could see some of the discomfort on some of the Puerto Rican officials' faces, although they were glad he was there and they’re glad that some of that aid is now getting into Puerto Rico.

BRZEZINSKI: They’re put in a horrible position.

GEIST: Just the, it was, go around the room and talk about what a great job we’ve done and let's make sure these cameras see that it’s much better than it is being reported in the media. Give him credit again for going and going and handing out aid and meeting some of the people. But he left early and it just felt like a very sort of pro-forma visit, like something he had to do.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, and, and again, what he did-

BRZEZINSKI: [talking under Joe] This is embarrassing.

SCARBOROUGH: -throughout was inappropriate. It was, it was bizarre behavior. It was, it was celebratory when this is an island that’s struggling. And, we see once again, John Heilemann, once again another example over the past week, what many people have always said about him, a basic lack of humanity. We saw it with him attacking and whipping up a crowd into a frenzy to boo John McCain last week. We saw it over the weekend when the people of Puerto Rico were struggling and he was calling them, basically, ingrates. Yesterday, he goes there and he says: boy you’re really busting our budget. Really? Really? Wou-, I mean, would we like to go down the lists, how much his tax cuts are going to end up costing the country? And it will cost the country.

BRZEZINSKI: How about just accommodating his family's private jets?

SCARBOROUGH: If you just, yeah, talk about his family's private jets.

BRZEZINSKI: And his administration's private jets.

SCARBOROUGH: It, it, it really, it’s, it’s staggering.

BRZEZINSKI: He’s just so disconnected.

SCARBOROUGH: The lack, the basic lack of humanity and the growing concern that's always been there, this man is disconnected from reality, at least in communications, the way one human being speaks to another human being. The way a president is supposed to speak to constituents and people in need. He is incapable of even doing the most basic things.

BRZEZINSKI: Unfit.

JOHN HEILEMANN [NBC NEWS, NATIONAL AFFAIRS EDITOR]: Yeah, I think it’s a, and it’s a, and it’s a particular aspect of humanity. It’s this thing and it’s not the first time that anyone’s said it. We’ve talked about it, in fact, since he’s come on the public stage. But it’s this particular quality of empathy that he lacks. There’s a, he does things that are cruel sometimes in the case of John McCain. These are various issues. But in this case, you know, one of the most fundamental things you need to do as President of the United States in a circumstance like this, when people are suffering, people have been suffering, is not that you play comparative games, this is worse than that, not to talk about yourself, not to boast about how well you’re doing, or how, you know, none of this. It should be about these constituents and about, you know, to use the famous Clinton phrase, about feeling their pain. It’s a really, it’s actually not that hard. And I, I,-

SCARBOROUGH: [interrupting] Well it’s not hard at all, which is-

HEILEMANN: -it’s not that hard. You could do it [garbled], great political talents, great presidents do it, some of them do it exquisitely well, some of them do it adequately. But it’s not that hard to do it adequately because it’s a basic function of being a human being who sees someone in pain and is able to understand that and feel for the person who is suffering.

SCARBOROUGH: And to even though, Harold Ford, what is appropriate and what is not appropriate, you wonder where this 71 year-old man has lived his entire life? You wonder, has he so insulated himself from human beings, has he so insulated himself from suffering that he doesn't know how human beings react to wha-? I mean, of course, listen. We all know he’s always had a harsh side. He’s always, he’s always had a bully, always had a bully inside of him. But again, even the tweet, when he was trying to be comforter-in-chief on Las Vegas. What did he say? I send “my warmest condolences.” Nobody talks like that, nobody.

HAROLD FORD JR.: Look, I can-

SCARBOROUGH: [interrupting] No, no, let me just, let me underline, let me underline, nobody. At, when there’s a slaughter says: I send “my warmest condolences.” And again, not nitpicking on that, again, you see this growing body of actions and you say: this man is disconnected from basic norms of social behavior.

FORD: The empathy, the inspiration, the emotion for him mostly comes from wanting to defend himself. You know, I think you and John said it best. He finds himself in a moment where people are expecting this from him, a human side from him, a humane side from him. And all he really gives us is, he wants to defend himself. He was most offended when he arrived in Puerto Rico the fact that the mayor of San Juan had been critical of his administration's efforts. So as Willie said, he spent the bulk, if not all of that press conference, with, it was a weird setup around the table with like 30, 40 people in that auditorium praising him and praising the people around him. So it, it’s, it’s, again, it’s consistent with whom he is and I hope, one can only pray he gets better.

(...)

6:14 AM

BRZEZINSKI: Do you think he understands that more people will die as disease spreads and water is hard to come by and children get skin diseases and eye infections and people suffer ‘cause they are not working and they can't go to school and there’s no infrastructure? 

SCARBOROUGH: I don't think the issue is, I don’t think the issue is whether he understands or not. I think the issue is whether he cares or not.

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] Or whether he’s fit.

SCARBOROUGH: For him, this is a Twitter fight. For him, this isn't about the people down there. If it were, he wouldn't have behaved the way he did yesterday. That’s a pretty objective fact, that’s not subjective, that’s an objective fact that yesterday he went down to Puerto Rico, an island that was suffering, U.S. citizens that have been suffering, who will continue to suffer for years from what's happened to them over the past several months, and he somehow managed to make it all about himself.

BRZEZINSKI: It's incredible. At the start of the visit, he held a meeting with federal and local officials where he came face to face with the mayor of San Juan.

[playing clip]

TRUMP: Hello, how are you?

MAYOR CARMEN YULIN CRUZ [D-SAN JUAN]: Sir, I don’t want to upset you. It’s all about saving lives, but it’s not about politics.

TRUMP: [mouths “thank you” to the mayor, looks at others] Thank you, thank you everybody.

[end clip]

[someone audibly huffs]

FORD: She had to apologize to him. She’s out trying to deliver and take care of people in her city. He ought to have been ashamed of himself.

SCARBOROUGH: You know how that goes, Harold. The President comes to your district. Your people have been, your people are facing enormous suffering and you just can't afford to upset the President. So whether he’s wrong or not, you know that FEMA, you know the SBA, you know that every other agency is going to move at his direction. So, she actually-

BRZEZINSKI: [interrupting] You notice, she’s a woman.

SCARBOROUGH: -for, no, no, I was just gonna say, Mika, for people that are outraged that she apologized to him, your outrage should all be channeled towards the President of the United States. She was actually being a leader, even though she was in the right, she knew she had to say that. And of course, because he lacks any humanity and he is the most graceless president to be in the Oval Office in our history, he turns his head and says nothing, because, at the end of the day,-

BRZEZINSKI: It's about him.

SCARBOROUGH: -uh, at the end of the day, he is utterly devoid of humanity or grace.

(...)

6:18 AM

SCARBOROUGH: A lack of grace or just not man enough. If he’s not gonna be graceful, then be man enough to sit there and have a conversation, but he wasn't man enough to do that.

BRZEZINSKI: Absolutely not.

(...)


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