On Tuesday’s Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski once again publicly attacked the #MeToo movement and its core demand for absolute belief of women who make sexual misconduct allegations. In the context of discussing Al Franken’s announced resignation from the Senate, Brzezinski lamented about how “right now, any woman can say anything and a man’s career is ruined.” She also explicitly doubted the evidence pointing to Franken as a sexual harasser, stating that “the evidence is – just hang on there, calm down – is debatable.” Apparently, Brzezinski does not believe that the photographic evidence (on the right) is enough to prove that Franken groped Leeann Tweeden on their flight home from a 2006 USO Tour to entertain American troops in the Middle East.
Co-host Joe Scarborough agreed with his fiancé, expressing worry that the “very dangerous” climate of listening to and believing female accusers of sexual misconduct will lead to “many more Republicans and Democrats” going down “in the coming weeks and months.”
Tuesday’s segment on Franken’s resignation began with Brzezinski presenting the highlights of a recent report by Politico that looked at how Democratic senators are now both publicly and privately urging Senator Franken to reverse his decision and stay in Congress. Morning Joe’s panelists agreed with the substance of what Senators Joe Manchin and Patrick Leahy said and echoed their calls for due process and more fact-finding in the Franken case:
SCARBOROUGH: But I ask a question to everybody at this table and everybody watching that can hear me. Does anybody believe that Kirsten Gillibrand’s position on the Clintons would be what it is today if Hillary Clinton had been elected President of the United States?
BRZEZINSKI: [emphatically] No.
SCARBOROUGH: We’ll just leave that hanging out there.
BRZEZINSKI: [interrupting] Would Al Franken still be working?
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Al Franken would still be senator if Hillary Clinton had been elected President of the United States and Kirsten Gillibrand, who rode in the Clintons’ wake for decades, would still be riding on that wake right now. But let's just move that to the side, because everybody knows that's true. It, I mean, it’s-.
BRZEZINSKI: Well, actually, I'd like to address that, but go ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: But, but, but Mike, what's wrong with Al Franken getting due process and actually going through the hearings that everybody said they were going to go through until there was sort of a political stampede?
MIKE BARNICLE: We all know the bitter truth surrounding what happened to Al. Truth. I think we all know it. And it has, it has less to do with due process and more to do with Alabama.
BRZEZINSKI: [agreeing] Mmm.
GEIST: There you go.
BARNICLE: That's it. I mean, they had to get him off the scene. They had to get him to resign in order to continue to assault, legitimately so, the complete nutcase running for the United States senate as a Republican in Alabama.
BRZEZINSKI: I think that the -- Alabama could have been won without Al Franken resigning. I'm not sure if Al Franken should have resigned. I would have liked to have found out. I think there was a lot of debate. I got a lot of reaction, really hateful reaction, on Twitter about: Well, there is evidence with Franken. I think the evidence is – just hang on there, calm down – is debatable.
SAM STEIN: Well let’s-.
BRZEZINSKI: I think we have to look at all the facts and I think we have to look at the accusations. And yes, at times, you have to look at the accusers. And you have to try and fig- -- oh, wait a minute, that's what happens when you have due process.
BRZEZINSKI: That's what happens when you have something that's investigated and, uh, researched and -- oh, wait a minute, are we the judge and the jury and the cops? Are women the judge, the jury, and the cops? Is that where we wanna go? ‘Cause I don't see us getting hired if that's the case.
RICHARD HAASS: So-.
BRZEZINSKI: So we need to figure out a better way to get rid of harassers, real harassers. And we need to think of a better way to deal with people who need to be educated, because the rules are changing, and that's great. But let's be fair in this process. And as far as Kirsten Gillibrand is concerned, I think that she's an incredible talent. I think that there’s a chance she'll run for president some day-
BRZEZINSKI: -and I think I might support her.
BRZEZINSKI: But she has to deal with her Clinton issue.
SCARBOROUGH: Right, an-.
BRZEZINSKI: She has to address the cameras and answer the question as to what had -- what was the motivation behind her change of opinion about the Clintons? Because for me, for the ten years that I have been on this show, I have been extremely critical and concerned about the Clintons because of their abuse of women. I don't know how your position could change on this, and I'd like to know about that process. And I’m sure there is a fair process.
SCARBOROUGH: [cutting in over Mika] When did it, when did it change? And was there -- what else was out there that changed other than Hillary Clinton losing and the Clintons, for the first time in 25 years, being out of power of some sort? So-.
BRZEZINSKI: [cutting in over Joe] And I love what you said about the Clintons. I just wanna understand how you got there.
SCARBOROUGH: So, again -- and we go back to what Bari Weiss said, New York Times, she wants to be on the side of due process instead of mob rule.
SCARBOROUGH: So, what is the problem with actually having due process and, and, and having a hearing for, not just Al Franken, but for many more Republicans and Democrats whose names are surely to come up in the coming weeks and months?
It was strange to hear Brzezinski so zealously committing to the idea of due process for Franken and tacitly supporting him staying in the Senate given how frequently she refers to President Trump as a sexual harasser without qualification both in print and on Morning Joe. Mika has even accused Trump of “sexually harassing on Twitter” for his tweet claiming that Gillibrand was “someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them).” However, Brzezinski was not just mad at Trump for his tweet – she was equally infuriated by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s denials that Trump’s attack on Gillibrand had sexual undertones. However, when it came to Franken this morning, Brzezinski was more than willing to defend the Democrats’ “giant of the Senate” by flat-out denying photographic evidence of his conduct and just assuming his complete innocence in relation to all the charges against him.
A few minutes after Scarborough made his comments warning about more imminent #MeToo scalps, Brzezinski tried to put a rhetorical nail in the coffin of the now “dangerous” movement:
BRZEZINSKI: I think the process itself is what we need to be talking about before we talk about the men because the process needs to be, um -- it's gonna be complicated. But I think women feel that they are maligned and mistreated through the process, and therefore, they’re afraid to step forward.
BRZEZINSKI: So we need to look at the process. But right now, any woman can say anything and a man's career is ruined. Now, a lot of women can say things that are true and their careers should be ruined.
SCARBOROUGH: By the, by the way-.
BRZEZINSKI: But the problem is-
SCARBOROUGH: By the way -- hold on.
BRZEZINSKI: -that any women can say anything, and that's it. It's over.
SCARBOROUGH: There is a-.
BRZEZINSKI: Is that how we’re running businesses now?
SCARBOROUGH: There is a reporter, whose name I will not mention, a very good reporter, who was called in, was not told what he was accused of by an anonymous person, and he was immediately dismissed. So, not only do you not get to face your accuser, in this case, you don't even get to know what the charges are against you. So when you hire a lawyer, you can't defend yourself. And again, if this is where this movement takes us, this is very dangerous, and not just dangerous for men. This is dangerous for everybody.
Now that so many Democrats have been dethroned by sexual misconduct allegations (including past frequent Morning Joe guests Harold Ford Jr. and Mark Halperin), perhaps the simpler explanation for Scarborough and Brzezinski’s repudiation of #MeToo has more to do with self-preservation than liberal bias.
I guess we just have to wait and see what comes in the future.
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