Morning Joe Promotes Military Insubordination Based on Claim That Trump Has ‘Dementia’

On Friday’s Morning Joe, the show’s liberal pundits doubled down on their claim that everybody around Trump thinks he has signs of serious mental deterioration. Host Joe Scarborough did not reveal his source for yesterday’s assertion that Trump has “dementia,” but he and the other panelists used this claim to advocate for current military servicemen and presidential cabinet members to “stand up to Trump” and not follow orders from the President. USA Today senior politics reporter Heidi Przybyla also took the opportunity to misrepresent a poll from the Military Times, claiming that it supported the idea that most military officers think Trump is mentally not “fit” to be commander-in-chief. The poll that she appeared to be referencing asked no such thing of the troops that it surveyed.

 

 

Prior to the segment in question, the Morning Joe crew re-hashed the “dementia” content from Thursday’s show. The primary difference between Thursday’s and Friday’s broadcasts was that on Friday morning, the whole panel jumped in to diagnose Trump as literally suffering from some sort of breakdown of his mental faculties. Eventually, Morning Joe’s speculation about Trump being mentally ill transitioned into talking about why Trump’s cabinet members have not been doing more to actively and openly oppose the President given the fact that “his hand [is] near the nuclear button”:

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I also think he's never -- and it’s like a lot of people that we've seen in the past, that things have not ended well. He has never seen the consequences of any of his actions. Ever.

[murmurs of agreement from panel]

So he may be in kind of a weird unself-aware mode where the noose is tightening, but he also doesn’t believe -- so, I mean, I can't explain this crazy behavior, but I can call it crazy.

DONNY DEUTSCH: I have a question for you guys, ‘cause you know-

BRZEZINSKI: It’s crazy.

DEUTSCH: -the Gary Cohns of the world and all of these people around him, a lot of very, very decent people.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Right.

DEUTSCH: At what point do they stop the “well, I’m -- it's better me being here-

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] No.

SCARBOROUGH: [interjecting] So-.

DEUTSCH: -cause I’m protecting things” versus “I love this country. I love my children. I love my future grandchildren. There's a man with his hand near the nuclear button and somebody’s gotta stand up.”

At this point, Scarborough intervened and turned the conversation towards the American military, which he framed as being a check to Trump’s assumed desire to order the murders of hundreds of thousands or potentially even millions of people for no reason:

So, so here's the deal. I mean, if you're, if you’re a domestic adviser for the President, then I do think that you have to -- you can't stay. I don't know how Gary Cohn stays. If you are, you know, some of the generals that are around him, we're in the middle, and we have been hearing for some time that they fear a land war on the Korean peninsula is coming. For them to abandon their post right now because of a tweet, they cannot do that. And I do believe history will show a lot of these men and women that are standing shoulder to shoulder through this crisis to be people that put their country first.

Steve Rattner, who frequently appears on Morning Joe to do economic analysis, then chimed in to express his vague hope that people within Trump’s cabinet like John Kelly are “still willing to stand up to Trump when the moment comes.” Afterwards, Przybyla brought up the supposed results of the recent Military Times poll in an attempt to suggest that the American military will resist “crazy” orders from the President:

[I]f you look at where some of the rumblings are coming in terms of who's going to speak out, it is from the national security community, because you see Corker saying: This is the person controlling the nuclear arsenal essentially turning this into a reality show. And then you see this poll, for example, by the Military Times, I don't know if you saw it, out recently, where they say only 30% of commissioned officers think that he is fit.

There is only one Military Times poll conducted in late October that appears to be what Przybyla is referencing, but she completely misrepresented what the survey was about. The Military Times did not ask soldiers about what they thought of Trump’s fitness, mental or otherwise, for the Presidency. Instead, “[t]he questions focused on President Trump’s time in the White House and national security issues facing U.S. leaders.” As part of this, serving troops were polled on their broader favorability views of Trump, which the military paper reported thusly:

President Donald Trump enjoys far stronger support among members of the military than the American public at large, according to the latest scientific Military Times poll.

(...)

Overall, about 44 percent of all troops surveyed in the Military Times poll have a favorable view of Trump, while roughly 40 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him.

(...)

While almost 48 percent of enlisted troops approve of Trump, only about 30 percent of officers say the same, the poll shows.

Favorability and mental fitness are not the same thing, and Przybyla should have double-checked her sources before spreading misinformation that U.S. military officers think Trump is literally insane.

BBC World News America anchor Katty Kay followed Przybyla’s comments by holding up the example of Air Force General John Hyten, the top American nuclear commander at U.S. Strategic Command, who recently suggested in an open forum that Trump is likely to order an illegal nuclear attack:

And then you have the head of Strategic Command. Heeten saying, Hyten saying, that, you know, I, they -- questioning the legality of a proposed nuclear strike. And I think those people are thinking, right, how do we put ourselves in a position where if something were to happen that we believe is catastrophic for the country, we try to make sure that we can prevent it. And I think these rumblings about the legality of a nuclear strike, that's what you’re preparing for.

Kay’s point echoes Scarborough’s more explicit call in early October for Republicans in the Senate to act immediately to cripple the President’s nuclear defense capabilities, which would seriously hinder America’s ability to respond to nuclear threats.

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This is the problem with loose talk about Trump being mentally ill. In order to prevent a nuclear war in the first place, our nuclear defense forces need both: A) the ability to respond quickly to any existential threats to America; and B) the moral confidence in the President to believe that he and his advisors have made the right decision in ordering any nuclear attack. Undermining that moral confidence should not be done lightly, let alone to make a partisan political point.

The following is a partial transcript of today's segment:

7:12 AM EST

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I also think he's never -- and it’s like a lot of people that we've seen in the past, that things have not ended well. He has never seen the consequences of any of his actions. Ever.

[murmurs of agreement from panel]

So he may be in kind of a weird unself-aware mode where the noose is tightening, but he also doesn’t believe -- so, I mean, I can't explain this crazy behavior, but I can call it crazy.

DONNY DEUTSCH: I have a question for you guys, ‘cause you know-

BRZEZINSKI: It’s crazy.

DEUTSCH: -the Gary Cohns of the world and all of these people around him, a lot of very, very decent people.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Right.

DEUTSCH: At what point do they stop the “well, I’m -- it's better me being here-

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] No.

SCARBOROUGH: [interjecting] So-.

DEUTSCH: -cause I’m protecting things” versus “I love this country. I love my children. I love my future grandchildren. There's a man with his hand near the nuclear button and somebody’s gotta stand up.”

SCARBOROUGH: So, so here's the deal. I mean, if you're, if you’re a domestic adviser for the President, then I do think that you have to -- you can't stay. I don't know how Gary Cohn stays. If you are, you know, some of the generals that are around him,-

DEUTSCH: [interjecting] Got it, got it.

SCARBOROUGH: -we're in the middle,-

EUGENE ROBINSON: [interjecting] Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: -and we have been hearing for some time-

DEUTSCH: [interjecting] Got that, got that.

SCARBOROUGH: -that they fear a land war on the Korean peninsula is coming. For them to abandon-

DEUTSCH: [interjecting] Agree.

SCARBOROUGH: -their post right now-

ROBINSON: [interjecting] Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: -because of a tweet,-

ROBINSON: [interjecting] Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: -they cannot do that.

DEUTSCH: I didn't bring them up. Right.

SCARBOROUGH: And I do believe history will show a lot of these men and women that are standing shoulder to shoulder through this crisis to be people that put their country first.

DEUTSCH: But the domestic people are in a different position.

ROBINSON: Much different, yeah.

[some inaudible crosstalk]

STEVE RATTNER: But what's also a little bit scary is that John Kelly, who I don't know, but seems to be -- have been-

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] I know!

RATTNER: -a distinguished career, great guy.

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] I agree with you.

RATTNER: He seems to become a bit of an enabler. When you look at what he said after that poor kid was killed in Niger and some of the other stuff, I hope he's still willing to stand up to Trump when the moment comes.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA: They're not gonna bail, but if you look at where some of the rumblings are coming in terms of who's going to speak out, it is from the national security community,-

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

PRZYBYLA: -because you see Corker saying: This is the person controlling the nuclear arsenal essentially turning this into a reality show. And then you see this poll, for example, by the Military Times, I don't know if you saw it, out recently, where they say only 30% of commissioned officers think that he is fit. So I think if there is a community that's not going to bail, but then also speak out,-

KATTY KAY: [trying to cut in] And then you have-

PRZYBYLA: -it's the same thing you saw during the campaign.

SCARBOROUGH: It’s the military.

KAY: [continuing her point] -the head of Strategic Command. Heeten saying, Hyten saying, that, you know, I, they -- questioning the legality of a proposed nuclear strike. And I think those people are thinking, right, how do we put ourselves in a position where if something were to happen that we believe is catastrophic for the country, we try to make sure that we can prevent it. And I think these rumblings about the legality of a nuclear strike, that's what you’re preparing for.

(...)


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