Fox News is the network that Morning Joe loves to hate. Similar to the way the show will often refuse to even mention Donald Trump by name, referring to him only as "the former president," Morning Joe will often make a sneering reference to "certain networks," while obviously targeting Fox.
So it was what we could call a Sudden Respect moment when today's Morning Joe praised Fox News in general, and Brit Hume in particular, for their defense of President Biden's trip to Ukraine before making a possible visit to East Palestine, Ohio in the wake of the train derailment there.
Morning Joe played a clip of Bret Baier mentioning that it has not been historically common for Transportation Secretaries to visit the site of train derailments, especially when there are no fatalities. Baier pointed out that during the Trump administration, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao didn't visit train-disaster sites, including ones involving loss of life, whereas there was no loss of life in East Palestine.
Morning Joe then played an extended clip of Hume opining that a president's key duty is to the security of the United States, and in that context, Biden's visit to Ukraine took precedence over a visit to East Palestine.
Scarborough and Willie Geist praised Hume's comments, with Scarborough saying that Hume had made a "very good point," and Geist saying that Hume understood the importance of Biden's visit to Ukraine and Eastern Europe since "he's been around for more than five minutes."
The panel did acknowledge that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg should have visited East Palestine sooner, with Mika making a very pointed comment to that effect.
Morning Joe praising Fox News in general and Brit Hume in particular for their defense of President Biden visiting Ukraine before East Palestine was sponsored in part by Flonase, E*Trade, UnitedHealthCare, Liberty Mutual, and Consumer Cellular.
Here's the transcript.
6:38 am ET
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: While Trump was criticizing President Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for not visiting East Palestine yet, Fox News had this fact check last night. Take a look.
BRET BAIER: There is this political moment, and there's been a lot of criticism of the Transportation Secretary. Politico pointing out that Buttigieg, Secretary Buttigieg, will visit there, Ohio crash, tomorrow. Quote, he's also expected to meet with DOT officials who arrived on the ground within hours of the derailment.
They point out, it's exceedingly rare for a Transportation Secretary to visit the site of a train derailment, especially one that resulted in no fatalities. And the reason they're pointing that out, it's fair, that's accurate. And there were train derailments in the Trump administration that actually IIhad fatalities that didn't have a visit by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
BRIT HUME: The key thing always is, what, if anything, is the administration obliged to do when something like this happens? And visits by officials are nice, but they're essentially political gestures. I mean, I don't think the administration's policy and actions toward East Palestine would be any different if more officials had gone there.
The president's overseas. I, I completely reject the parallel that's been drawn between his going to Ukraine and not going, so far at least, to East Palestine.
Let's remember this, Bret, about these issues. The federal government preeminently has a responsibility for our national defense. Now, he may ultimately go to East Palestine, and Pete Buttigieg probably would have done himself some good by going out there, and might have made people feel better. But substantively, it doesn't make much difference.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You know, it's a very good point. Willie. The President of the United States, the Commander-in-chief, his preeminent responsibility, constitutionally, you know, is to protect this country. Protect the country as Commander-in-chief. And, you can do two things at once.
As Brit Hume also said, just because officials show up to get their pictures taken doesn't really mean anything. The question is, what policies are being put in place?
. . .
WILLIE GEIST: This is where reactionary partisanship lands you. Whatever the president is doing, I have to find some way to criticize it, even if I know it's an objectively good thing for the president to have shown his face inside of Kyiv and to make that speech this week. I've got to find some way to criticize him.
So I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that Donald Trump and some of the members of the Republican party are conducting themselves this way. But Brit Hume, for example, who's been around for more than five minutes, and understands the importance of Donald -- excuse me, of Joe Biden's visit, Jen Psaki, to eastern Europe and to Ukraine. And I suspect, and you'd understand the inner workings better than anyone on the panel, that the president may make a visit, but, in a case like this, to East Palestine, he would send a cabinet official first. And perhaps Buttigieg should have been there sooner. But the president may well go there to Ohio, as well.
. . .
MIKA: Obviously, Willie, there's a lot of work to do in East Palestine. And I think Trump's gesturing with his branding and his water aside, the Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, did make it clear that he should have gone there sooner.
And let's just put, put a pin on that. He should have gone there sooner, and the White House should have done a better job, even though they were in major transatlantic moment dealing with the future of the safety of the world.
The people of East Palestine need to feel safe, and seen, and heard. And I think Pete Buttigieg is taking it on board that he needs to go there and do that.