Scarborough Admits: No 'Objective Evidence' That Trump Mentally Unfit

January 9th, 2018 4:27 PM

On Tuesday’s Morning Joe, co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski once again tried to peddle the notion that President Trump is mentally ill and thus unfit to be President of the United States.

However, in contrast to previous broadcasts, after running a prepared segment calling for mandatory mental health evaluations for presidents and presidential candidates, Joe and Mika got pushback from guest panelist Jeff Greenfield, who argued that “attempting to assess an emotional or mental state of a president” is potentially “very dicey” because “the psychologists who might be doing that study” could be “bringing their own political values into it.”

In a stunning admission that contradicted Scarborough’s numerous past attempts to paint Trump as sociopathic, homicidally insane, and suffering from predementia, Joe responded to Greenfield’s arguments by conceding that in regards to these sorts of claims about Trump’s mental instability: “You have to have [...] objective evidence, the sort of objective evidence that we do not have and most likely will not have.”

The prepared segment calling for a new presidential mental health evaluation law that led to Scarborough’s frank confession used past examples of presidents concealing physical and mental health conditions from the American public to suggest that Trump might be doing the same thing today:



[clip from Morning Joe’s January 8, 2018 broadcast]

JON MEACHAM: President Eisenhower, uh, remember, had a heart attack in 1955 and a stroke in 1957. And Eisenhower, who tended to always put the, uh, national interest ahead of his own, sat down and wrote a letter to Richard Nixon, his vice president, saying: Here's what we're gonna do. Uh, if I'm incapacitated for a period of time, you step in. Uh, but when–and this, this was the rub–but when I decide I am back in form, I'll take it back. That's the question. What if a president shouldn't be the judge of that case?

[end clip]

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Right. That was historian Jon Meacham on our show yesterday speaking about the foundations of the 25th Amendment, which formalized the process of presidential succession during a health crisis. The discussion left us wondering: Is it time to ask more of our potential commanders-in-chiefs [sic] to put into law what they tell us about their health?

[playing prepared segment]

[Trump speech from October 1, 2016]

DONALD TRUMP: We need stamina.


BRZEZINSKI: After fitness to serve became a closing argument in his campaign.

[Trump speech from October 1, 2016]

TRUMP: She can't make it fifteen feet to her car.


BRZEZINSKI: Donald Trump will go to Walter Reed for a physical evaluation on Friday.

[Trump speech from October 1, 2016]

TRUMP: Give me a break.


BRZEZINSKI: Amid new concern over the President's stability.

[Trump speech from October 1, 2016]

TRUMP: She could be crazy. She could actually be crazy.


BRZEZINSKI: After a shocking week with tweets about nuclear war.

[clip from Morning Joe’s January 3, 2018 broadcast]

KATTY KAY: Comparing the size of his nuclear button with the dictator of North Korea.


BRZEZINSKI: His mental abilities.

[clip from Morning Joe’s January 8, 2018 broadcast]

BRZEZINSKI: Genius, a very stable genius at that.


BRZEZINSKI: And devastating claims denied by the White House.

[clip from Morning Joe’s January 4, 2018 broadcast]

KASIE HUNT: Trump failed to recognize a succession of old friends.


BRZEZINSKI: President Trump's age.

[clip from Dr. Oz Show’s September 15, 2016 broadcast]

MEHMET OZ: At age 70, you will be the oldest person to ever enter the Oval Office.


BRZEZINSKI: And diet of fast food were raised during the campaign.

[clip from CNN, February 2016]

TRUMP: Kentucky Fried Chicken–not the worst thing in the world.


BRZEZINSKI: And besides some additional details, the candidate only provided a letter with his doctor's bizarre claims.

[clip from Morning Joe’s December 15, 2015 broadcast]

BRZEZINSKI: [...] unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected [...]


BRZEZINSKI: Which even the doctor would distance himself from.

[clip from NBC News August 26, 2016 report]

NBC: Is that the way that you write most of your medical letters?

DR. HAROLD BORNSTEIN: No, but for Mr. Trump, I wrote that letter that one [...]


BRZEZINSKI: Recent presidents and candidates have released certain health records, but, like tax returns, there is no law formally mandating disclosure. Presidents from FDR to JFK to Reagan have told the public only what they wanted them to know about their health. And with Democrats who will be in their early to late 70s if they run in three years...

[clip from MTP Daily’s December 27, 2016 broadcast]

PETER ALEXANDER: Harry Reid referred to [...] the potential Democratic 2020 presidential field as an old folk's home.


BRZEZINSKI: Now may be the time to formally establish what we should know about the health of our president and presidential candidates.

[repeating Trump speech from October 1, 2016]

TRUMP: She could be crazy. She could actually be crazy.

[end of prepared segment]

Scarborough then introduced Greenfield and USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page onto the show, and Greenfield made his argument for being more judicious about applying mental illness labels to the President. Scarborough appeared to concede most of Greenfield’s points as the segment progressed:

SCARBOROUGH: So, we didn't know so much about John Kennedy's health when Kennedy was president. We didn't know Ronald Reagan's battles, uh, in the later, latter part of his presidency. Should we? Should we have a, a, a yearly checkup,-

BRZEZINSKI: [sarcasm] That’s very tough.

SCARBOROUGH: -medical checkup?

JEFF GREENFIELD: You get into a real problem when you distinguish between physical and mental problems.

BRZEZINSKI: [softly] Yeah.

GREENFIELD: When -- most of the in-, most of the Democratic party insiders knew in 1944 that FDR was not gonna live out a fourth term. That's why the Vice President's deal was so hard. And you go back to Grover Cleveland, who had emergency, uh, cancer surgery. Public was kept in the dark. Woodrow Wilson’s stroke. My concern is–when you move from that area to an attempting to assess an emotional or mental state of a president, you get into very dicey areas. You worry about whether or not the, the psychologists who might be doing that study are bringing their own political values into it.



GREENFIELD: I mean, is it crazy to believe certain political views? They still are in the shadow of the 1964 magazine when Barry Goldwater-


GREENFIELD: -was deemed mentally unfit by a group of psychiatrists who never saw him.

SCARBOROUGH: I was just gonna, I was-.

GREENFIELD: [Goldwater] Sued for libel and won.


SCARBOROUGH: I was just going to bring up the Goldwater rule. There is a reason why the Goldrod-, water rule still stays with us, because when you go from physical to mental, as you say,-


SCARBOROUGH: -and as you go to mental with Donald Trump,-


SCARBOROUGH: -this is something, as somebody said yesterday: You better have national consensus,-


SCARBOROUGH: -an overwhelming majority of Americans.

GREENFIELD: And at some -- one psychologist wrote that he's perfectly prepared, from a distance, to look at Trump and say: This guy is a narcissist times a hundred. That doesn't necessarily mean mental illness. Uh, and I'm, I’m one of those people who’s very reluctant as a, you know, non-practi-, liberal arts major-


GREENFIELD: -to assess psychologically. I think -- I'm perfectly prepared as a journalist to look at what he says and say: He's a fabulist. He makes stuff up.


GREENFIELD: He doesn't know much. Narcissism, you know -- my 8 year-old grandson can figure that one out. I, I just worry about how this is supposed to happen.

Seemingly submitting to Greenfield’s arguments, Scarborough finally made his admission: “You have to have–Susan Page, it seems to me–objective evidence, the sort of objective evidence that we do not have and most likely will not have.”



The morning co-host then shifted the conversation to Page, who ended up making her own case that, in the end, “the ultimate check on a president is the one with voters. Voters get to look at a candidate, uh, in stressful circumstances, in debates, giving, doing events during the campaign, and make a judgment about whether this is someone they trust mentally, physically, politically, to be their leader. That's really been the ultimate check in American politics.”

On Friday, Scarborough used his show to promote Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury as one where “every page really rings true.” Yesterday, Joe and Mika interviewed Wolff and once again promoted his book as one whose “spirit” was “completely true.” During their interview, Wolff said that the “big picture” of his book was the notion that “[e]verybody in this White House, and I keep saying this, 100% [...] of the people closest [...] to Donald Trump, believe that there is [...] something fundamentally wrong [with him], something that scares them.”

Last November, in a widely reported episode, Scarborough claimed that he had sources “close to” the President who said that candidate Trump showed symptoms of the “early stages of dementia.” The next day, Scarborough used his claim of Trump having predementia to promote military insubordination towards the President among the leadership of U.S. nuclear defense forces.

If Scarborough does not believe that he has objective evidence to back up these kinds of assertions, why have he and his show’s other co-hosts and guests repeatedly called Trump’s sanity into question?