Morning Joe has traditonally been a reliable toer of the liberal line, an echo chamber championing the Democrat causes o' the day, and denouncing virtually all things Republican. The guests are a liberal lineup stretching, as Macbeth would say, to the crack of doom.
But ever since October 7th, there's been a significant change. Unlike many in the liberal media, Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, and Willie Geist have been resolute in denouncing the Hamas terror attacks of October 7th, and the threats to Jews in the United States, on campuses and elsewhere.
And so it was that on Thursday's show, we were treated to the phenomenon of Morning Joe:
- Heartily agreeing with a member of Bibi Netanyahu's cabinet on the need to eliminate Hamas, and the cabinet member expressing his thanks to the panel for its support.
- Denouncing antisemitism on campus, and mocking the hypocrisy of so-called social justice warriors who celebrate Hamas's wanton killing of children and the elderly.
- And reacting, after a segment on Jewish women in South Florida buying and learning to use guns in response to the threats of antisemitism, calling their decisions as "necessary."
Before those segments, the show conducted a lengthy interview with Ron DeSantis. A wide range of issues, foreign and domestic, were discussed, with DeSantis displaying an impressive breadth and depth of knowledge.
While there was none of the warm embrace that would be reserved for a Democrat candidate, neither did Scarborough or others display any antagonism. And though DeSantis was pressed on the matter of a controversial remark he made on the campaign trail, the overall tone was respectful, with Scarborough even praising DeSantis for being forthright about his views.
Scarborough began by teeing up DeSantis to criticize Trump's failure to participate in GOP primary debates.
An abortion, Scarborough did say that he considered DeSantis' support of a six-week ban to be "extreme." But Scarborough then expressed his own support for a 15-16 week ban. Yes, Scarborough taking a position on abortion that would be anathema to the standard Democrat position of no limits on abortion up to the time of birth!
And Scarborough actually praised DeSantis' clarity on the issue, saying, "but, again, be that as it may, I know where you stand. You will tell Iowa voters and South Carolina voters where you stand." He contrasted that with Donald Trump's stand on the issue, which he depicted as varying over time and with the audience.
The most challenging questioning came from Willie Geist, over DeSantis having said that, as president, he would "slit the throats" of federal bureaucrats. DeSantis declined to retract his statement, saying he believed people would understand that as a figure of speech. But while Geist pressed DeSantis on it, he did preface his questions by acknowledging that DeSantis "didn't meant that literally." Nor did Geist display any of the antagonistic grandstanding that might be expected from liberal-media hosts in such circumstances.
Next up was Ron Dermer, Israel's Minister of Strategic Affairs, and a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party. Dermer began by thanking the panel members for their "moral clarity" on the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Willie Geist began the questioning by teeing up Dermer to condemn the notion of a cease fire that some have proposed. Geist noted that "the spokesman for Hamas said in no uncertain terms that October 7th, on effect, is the beginning, and we'll do it again and again and again, and just saying explicitly that the goal is the annihilation of Israel."
Next was a segment on the wave of anti-Semitic attacks in the US. True, the show had on Morning Joe regular Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, which has been described as "a tax-exempt cadre of the national Democratic Party."
But Greenblatt was more than balanced by the presence of William Jacobson, a Cornell law professor and founder of Legal Insurrection [where I have blogged,] an organization that has championed the conservative cause on numerous issues, including that of Gibson's Bakery v. Oberlin College, and the attack on conservatives in academia.
Once again, Willie Geist opened the question with this sympathetic take:
"You are a law professor at Cornell, a prestigious Ivy League university. How is it that so many schools over the last decade or so that have taken such great care for the safety, in many cases just protecting them from words or arguments they don't like to hear, cannot take care with the physical safety of Jewish students?"
When Jacobson said that that anti-Jewish, anti-Israel attitudes in academia didn't begin on October 7th, but have been in the making for 20 years, Scarborough responded:
"Professor, I'm so glad you said that, because it's something I know I've been talking about on this network forb 20 years. Jewish students, sometimes at Ivy League schools, sometimes at USC, sometimes at state-run schools in the middle of America, Jewish students have been targeted for decades."
For that matter, while Greenblatt might normally have been expected to dispute Jacobson's take on the issues, to the contrary, he could be seen nodding his head in agreement as Jacobson spoke, and then lauded Jacobson for getting "so much right."
And finally, there was that segment described above, hosted by Sam Brock of NBC News. It featured Jewish women in South Florida, who in response to the outbreak of attacks on Jews are buying guns and learning to use them.
Brock's take was understanding and supportive, and included an interview of a gun shop owner and firearms instructor wearing a yarmulke! When's the last time a liberal outlet offered a sympathetic interview of a gun shop owner?
And when Brock threw it back to the show, Scarborough said, of the decision of the women to buy guns and learn to use them: "they need to do that."
NewsBusters has been a consistent critic of Morning Joe in general, and Joe Scarborough in particular, for their slavishly pro-liberal-Democrat slant. But when it comes to the issues of Israel v. Hamas, and anti-Jewish/Israel bias in academia, Morning Joe has come down firmly on the side of the angels. Sure, the show will promptly return to its regularly-scheduled programming of Republican bashing. But for now, credit where credit is due.
Morning Joe giving respectful treatment to Ron DeSantis, agreeing with an Israeli government official, the head of the ADL and a law professor, about the need to eliminate Hamas and the threats to Jews on campus, and expressing support for the need of Jewish Americans to buy guns and learn to use them was sponsored in part by Sling, Consumer Cellular, 4Imprint, GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Arexvy, Liberty Mutual, and Go Daddy.
Here's the transcript.
7:40 am EDT
JOE SCARBOROUGH: So, we've been hearing, Governor, since you started your campaign, that you were going to collapse, and that things were like falling, and falling from the sky.
And, and yet, it's Donald Trump who seems to be afraid to go to debates. This is the third debate, I guess, coming up next week in Miami that he is going to skip. Do you think any candidate that's afraid to debate his opponents in a primary should be President of the United States?
RON DESANTIS: We are not going to win as Republicans, Joe, by adopting the strategy that Biden did, being in the basement during the 2020 campaign. That's effectively what Donald Trump's doing.
. . .
SCARBOROUGH: I've been very clear: I think your six-week ban is, is extreme. I personally think that. I think it should be around 15, 16 weeks or so.
But, again, be that as it may, I know where you stand. And you will tell Iowa voters and South Carolina voters where you stand. Donald Trump goes out and sometimes, weirdly enough, he starts attacking pro-life voters!
. . .
WILLIE GEIST: The FBI warns of domestic political violence again right now around the next election. So, when you say something like in Rye, New Hampshire at you want to, quote, slit the throats of federal bureaucrats, I know you didn't mean that literally, but do you have any pause or any regret about using that rhetoric given our political climate?
DESANTIS: No, because I think people knew it was a figure of speech. I think people want to see big change to how Washington --
GEIST: Why not just say you're going to fire them?
DESANTIS: Well, because you're, you're being colorful with some of the stuff, but you basically -- you need to bring in serious accountability. I think back about some of the things with this government. The Afghanistan debacle—no one has been fired as a result of that.That was one of the biggest fiascos that we've ever had. You've had government fall on its face time and time again. And yet, there's no accountability. So, we need an era of accountability.
Obviously, we're going to do that within the context of the rule of law and the Constitution. But I want to make very clear to voters that I'm not just going to go up there and, and, and be, be nice about it. We are going to take very swift action to resize this government and reconstitutionalize that, but everyone should want to be very active in the process. But ultimately, you know, this is about making your voice heard at the ballot box and that's what we're going to do.
GEIST: And Governor, I take your point about accountability. I'm talking about the, the rhetoric. I mean, you know. You see it. We all watched January 6th. We've seen what's happened since. We've heard al the threats to federal officials and again, people who work on elections, volunteers. Don't you think we should as a country, and particularly political leaders, we should turn down the temperature on things like that?
DESANTIS: Well, look. I stand by what I said. I don't think anyone could reasonably have taken that and acted like I'm somehow advocating anything other than robust political process and robust political accountability.
. . .
RON DERMER: First of all, I want to thank all of you there, I guess. I listened to the last five minute discussion, for the basic moral clarity. Because if you can't wholeheartedly condemn the attack that happened on October 7th, then you're not really, you're not for civilization, and you're standing for barbarism.
And so, I appreciate it. We have a lot of nuances in the Middle East, a lot of issues we can discuss. But there are some times when you have to draw a clear moral line. And I heard it around that table today, and I appreciate it very much.
. . .
GEIST: Mr. Dermer, let's talk about the idea of a cease-fire proposed by the U.N., for example, but also we're hearing it from groups across the United States, college campuses, things like that. We just discussed what the spokesman for Hamas said in no uncertain terms. That October 7th, in effect, is the beginning, and we want there to be many more. He says we'll do it again and again and again. And just saying explicitly that the goal is the annihilation of Israel.
So, what is your view of the idea of a ceasefire?
DERMER: Well, I think one of you said it right. It's like having a cease-fire with ISIS or a cease-fire with the Japanese after Pearl Harbor, or a cease-fire with the Nazis.
You have to defeat this enemy. We're going to have to eliminate Hamas' military capability in Gaza. We're going to have to end it political rule of Gaza. And we're going to have to ensure that Gaza no longer represents a threat to the people of Israel, and frankly, a threat to Palestinians!
. . .
MIKA: A recent report by the Anti-Defamation League shows antisemitic cases have climbed 388% since the Hamas terror attacks. From October 7th to 23rd, the ADL recorded 312 antisemitic incidents were recorded, more than half of which, it said, were linked to the war.
Joining us now, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, and Cornell law school Professo William Jacobson.
. . .
SCARBOROUGH: Again, it's my opinion. I think it's the opinion of a lot of people around the table right now, that there's a war, a world-wide war against Jews; the 15 million Jews that are still living. And there's a war against them, and unfortunately, we see a line from, from, from Russians shouting, where are the Jews in the airport?, to, to Jewish students in Germany being chased across the campus to the shouts of, of "send them to the gas chambers," to cemeteries in Austria being burned, being burned! Jewish cemeteries in 2023. To what's happening on campuses in the United States.
Which, there are some videos that are absolutely disgusting. Students at elite universities saying they feel empowered by the raping and the killing and the torturing of Jews on October 7th.
. . .
GEIST: So professor, let's pick that up with you. You ar a law professor, we said, at Cornell, a prestigious Ivy League university.
How is it that schools, so many schools over the last decade or so that have taken such great care for the safety—in many cases just protecting them from words, or protecting them from arguments they don't like to hear—cannot take care with the physical safety of Jewish students? How can it be that that young student can walk across Harvard's campus, and as Jonathan said, not just be yelled at, but be physically assaulted, and those students not be expelled on the
spot? What is happening with the leadership at these schools?
WILLIAM JACOBSON: Well, you know, there's a phrase that collapse happens slowly, then suddenly. For Jewish students on campuses at Cornell and elswhere, we're in the suddenly phase of things.
This has been building for 20 years. This is not something that started on campuses on October 7th. You have a combination of 20 years of gross demonization of Israel by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, by groups like Students for Justice in Palestine, and by a lot of professors. Multiple academic associations have endorsed that, holding Israel out as uniquely evil.
You have another thing that's squeezing Jewish students, which is the racialization of the conflict, where it's portrayed as a racial justice issue to be against Israel, which we all know is not true.
So, you have Jewish students being squeezed, and unfortunately, the administrations don't seem to recognize what's happening. And in some ways, they have aided and abetted it, maybe unknowingly, by perpetuating these racial stereotypes on campuses through diversity, equity and inclusion and other racial doctrines.
So, Jewish students feel squeezed, but this did not start on October 7th. This has been 20 years in the making on campuses.
SCARBOROUGH: Professor, I'm so glad you said that. Because it's something, I know, I've been talking about on this network for 20 years. Jewish students, sometimes at Ivy League schools, sometimes at USC, sometimes at, at state-run schools in the middle of America. Jewish students have been targeted for decades. And I've just got to ask, why? I've never really understood this. Why is it that college professors, university presidents, sit back and do nothing?
. . .
JACOBSON: There's a social-justice movement, and an activist component of campus, which is not the majority, but Cornell and other universities seem afraid of them. They seem afraid of students turning up at the president's office, picketing them.
And so, I think we need leadership at Cornell and elsewhere that recognizes the underlying problem.
SCARBOROUGH: I've just got to say. How Orwellian the term "social justice." These same people who proclaim themselves to be champions of "social justice," Jonathan Greenblatt, cheer on young women being raped and kidnapped, babies being burned to death in their cribs, being shot up at point-blank range, elderly people being burned to death, and that being celebrated by the terrorists who are doing it, who are wearing GoPros so everybody can see this and celebrate the slaughter of Jews. Social justice warriors support this?
MIKA: So, the sharp rise in antisemitism has prompted some in the Jewish community to rethink how best to protect themselves, because, in many cases, they don't feel like anyone else is going to do it.
NBC News correspondent Sam Brock is live in South Florida with that part of the story. Sam, what did you find out?
SAM BROCK: Yeah, Mika and Joe, good morning. What I found out is that almost every person I spoke to, every parent and grandparent, told me they had no intention of owning a firearm or using a gun. But in light of the circumstances that have developed since October 7th, what you've just been talking about, the antisemitism and death threats, the burning of Israeli flags, slashing of posters, they feel, guys, that they have no choice, and they are fearful for their families' safety.
FIREARMS INSTRUCTOR [to student]: Let it go [i.e., fire.] Go ahead, whenever you're ready.
BROCK: Between the sounds of gunfire, and the gasps of what they produce [woman flinches at sound of shot], you'll find Jewish Americans and Israelis living here arming themselves and at record rates following Hamas' brutal October 7th attack and the antisemitic threats that followed.
JEWISH WOMAN: Inside of the neighborhood, it says: Free Gaza, Kill All The Jews. And I'm Jewish, and I have two little kids, and I just want to defend myself.
BROCK: [Names the woman,] one of many Jewish mothers we met, now trying out firearms after seeing violent rhetoric explode on college campuses. And here in Miami Beach, a man just slashed an Israeli banner in the middle of the night. One of many reasons moms like Michelle worry about her kids walking home from school.
MICHELLE: Who isn't upset over everything that's happening, and any innocent life that's being destroyed is horrific. But screaming for the death, my death, because I'm a Jew? No.
BROCK: At a firearm instruction class in South Florida, led by David Kowalski.
DAVID KOWALSKI: It's one of those things you don't want to need and not have.
BROCK: It's a profile of people you might not expect to find.
WOMAN IN CLASS: I'm having an out-of-body experience sitting here.
BROCK: Grandmothers and guns, not necessarily an obvious pairing.
WOMAN #2 IN CLASS: I just don't want to be a sitting duck if somebody comes to hurt me or my family.
BROCK: Kowalski sells firearms and offers classes, and says his phone is ringing off the hook.
After the Hamas invasion, did you see an immediate change in your business?
KOWALSKI: Yes. Absolutely. There was definitely an uptick in Jewish Americans wanting to learn how to protect themselves and their families.
BROCK: [with Kowalski in the background speaking to his students]: His classes went from one or two a week, to one or two a day. And as for the current reality --
How many of you never thought you would ever personally own or use a gun? [Many hands go up.]
. . .
SCARBOROUGH: And they need to do that. There's no doubt they need to do that. And it is important to remember what [FBI] Director Wray said, Willie. That Jews make up 2%, 2.4% of the population, and yet account for over 60% of hate crimes.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, exponentially more than any other group.