It’s certainly no surprise that MSNBC's Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough and Sean Hannity, host of his eponymous weeknight show on the Fox News Channel, have been feuding over President Donald Trump and the Republican Party in general.
That conflict escalated on Monday, July 17, when Scarborough hammered the Hannity program as nothing more than “state-run television” that has defended Donald Trump, Jr. -- the president’s oldest son -- who has been criticized for meeting a Russian lawyer who promised to provide damaging information on former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Scarborough’s first target was Jay Sekulow, the president’s lawyer and chief counsel for the conservative American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ).
The segment began with clips of Sekulow struggling to defend the Trumps during appearances on the Sunday news shows that aired a week earlier on MSNBC, Fox News and the Cable News Network.
First up was Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, who asked: “Do you know for sure everyone who was at that meeting with Donald Trump, Jr.?”
“No, I don’t represent Donald Trump, Jr.,” Sekulow replied, “and I do not know everyone for sure that was at that meeting. I can tell you who was not there. The president wasn’t aware of the meeting and did not attend it.”
Next came Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday, who asked the president’s lawyer:
Doesn’t it show intent and willingness of the part of Don, Jr., and Jared [Kushner, senior advisor to the president] and Paul Manafort [manager of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign] to collude with the Russians?
And let me just point out Natalia [Veselnitskaya] was not just some Russian off the street. She had close ties to people in the Kremlin.
“Well,” Sekulow responded, “if the discussion was going to be about Russian opposition research that a Russian lawyer had, you know that goes on in campaigns all the time. Opposition research is a big part of campaigning.”
Wallace then stated: “It doesn’t go on with the Russians all the time, Jay.”
The lawyer stumbled when he noted: “Here’s what happened. First, nothing happened.”
Finally, Jack Tapper, host of The Lead program on CNN, asserted: “Isn’t it also important whether or not it’s legal, whether or not it’s wrong, whether or not it’s ethical?”
“You’re conflating three perspectives here,” Sekulow noted. One was “the legality of the meeting and what took place, legal or not. We of course and almost every legal expert says it’s not illegal.”
“And then you’re trying to put a moral, ethical aspect to it, and it’s easy to do that in 20/20 hindsight, but not when you’re in the middle of a campaign,” the lawyer stated.
At that point, Scarborough noted: “That’s just not true. It’s hard [because] I’ve known Jay for a long time, and I’ve liked Jay for a long time, but there are so many false statements there, talk about conflating things. It’s staggering.”
The MSNBC co-host continued:
If you look at what Jay Sekulow was forced to go out and say last weekend on the Sunday shows. If you look at the statement that the president of the United States signed off on, with all the president’s men around him on Air Force One coming back from Europe lying, lying to the New York Times, lying to the American people, saying this meeting was just about adoption.
And then the next day, lying about the people that were in it, then going on a TV show that basically is state-run television, and being asked at the end of that TV show: “Is there anything else we don’t know about?” and Don, Jr. saying: “That’s it.”
“Then the next day,” he added, “we find out another person attended the meeting, and then the next day, we find out that someone connected with the KGB that basically was an intel officer was at the meeting, and then the next day, finding out that there were two other people at the meeting.”
“These people keep getting caught in their lies day after day after day,” Scarborough asserted, “and Jay Sekulow and the president of the United States saying: ‘Nothing to see here. Move along, move along.’”
“And it’s actually like a character out of The Simpsons [the long-running animated series on the Fox television channel},” he noted. “There’s something to see here, and even their own base knows that.”
It’s interesting that Scarborough considers a cable channel that does not follow the same philosophy he and other liberal “news” makers produce as “state-run television.” Apparently, he’s forgotten the fawning coverage they gave former President Barack Obama for the previous eight years.
Further, Scarborough's fawning over Trump for much of the last two years hasn't been forgotten. Any Twitter search will bear fruit showing Scarborough's repeated contradictions and hand-wringing.