During Wednesday’s Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough and his panel reacted with scorn to President Trump’s Oval Office address. All told, the panel engaged in hyperbole; describing the Trump administration as a “Seinfeld presidency” and declaring the President himself a national emergency.
After arguing that Trump is “holding the government hostage,” Scarborough claimed: “Last night, it was the TV networks that were held hostage for 8, 9, 10 minutes for a speech that broke no new ground.”
Wife Mika Brzezinski did not have kind words for the President’s speech either. She called it “a speech that denigrated and desecrated yet another kind of important facet of the presidency, which is that communication from the Oval Office between the President and the American people.”
Scarborough then read aloud a tweet from CNN's Bill Carter, who posed a “serious question”: “What justification was there for an Oval Office address?” Carter argued that “networks should feel totally burned” before asking “shouldn’t they come out and tell the White House that was a fraudulent request; forget asking for platform for your political posturing ever again?”
Co-host Willie Geist opined that Trump's speech was a “colossal waste of time so he can deliver on a chant he began three years ago at some of his rallies, the government is tied up because of it, we’re tied up because of it…the American people are tied up because of it and it’s all about nothing.”
Scarborough then dropped the line about the “Seinfeld shutdown” and Mika Brzezinski interrupted to describe the Trump presidency as “a Seinfeld Presidency.” Brzezinski had compared President Trump to a fictional character last year, saying that he was like “Fred Flintstone running the country.” Scarborough then tried to argue that “his heart wasn't really in it last night,” adding that “he’s not really good in that medium.”
Later, Barnicle tried to argue that the networks would not “give him the airwaves” if a “real crisis” develops; effectively making a “boy who cried wolf” argument. Barnicle said that Trump “gets right up to the edge of this as a national emergency,” with the stipulation being that the President himself was the “national emergency.”
A transcript of the relevant portion of Wednesday’s edition of Morning Joe is below. Click “expand” to read more.
MSNBC's Morning Joe
January 9, 2019
06:01 a.m. Eastern
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Well, no, actually, we wouldn’t be here tonight, but for the fact that Donald Trump’s obsessing on a wall that’s nothing more than a fantasy and of course, as you know, and as you’ve heard, and as his own statistics show you from his own government, that his justification for that wall just is based on lies. And so Mika, what we need to be looking at today is what’s the impact of the speech, what’s it mean as we move forward? But I think also, what’s it mean about a White House in disarray that you have a President who announced to people yesterday afternoon he didn’t want to do the speech? He didn’t want to go down to the border but he went ahead and did it anyway. And in effect, holding a lot of people hung up…I’m holding the government hostage, holding this hostage, holding that hostage. Well, last night, it was the TV networks that were held hostage for 8, 9, 10 minutes for a speech that broke no new ground, said absolutely nothing and that is going to make every network have to reexamine…
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Exactly.
SCARBOROUGH: …whether they are going to carry his next speech.
BRZEZINSKI: A speech that denigrated and desecrated yet another kind of important facet of the presidency, which is that communication from the Oval Office between the President and the American people. Another thing bites the dust under the Trump administration because there was no import, there was no national emergency, there was no credibility to what he was bringing to the table. It was rough. Along with Joe, Willie and me, we had MSNBC Contributor Mike Barnicle, NBC News National Political Reporter Heidi Przybyla, MSNBC Legal Analyst, Danny Cevallos. A lot happened yesterday before the President even…
BRZEZINSKI: ...sat down.
SCARBOROUGH: It really did. Willie, I want to read you a Bill Carter tweet after and Clyde Haberman said about the same thing. Bill Carter: “serious question, what justification was there for an Oval Office address? Not one thing had not been said before. Networks should feel totally burned. Shouldn’t they come out and tell the White House that was a fraudulent request; forget asking for platform for your political posturing ever again?” Does Bill Carter make a good point?
WILLIE GEIST: Yeah, I think he does. I mean, you have to review now, and think about the next time the President requests that all the networks shut down their hour or give him ten minutes to speak and obviously the pregame that comes with it and the discussion afterward, why? What is he doing? What is exactly the objective here? And from his point of view, Joe, I think, we can talk about the rhetoric, we can talk about the substance of what he said. But strategically, why? He gave a speech he could have…
GEIST: …given three years ago. He was speaking, he was preaching to the converted, he was giving a speech to a Fox News audience that was already with him on this. Why a national address on this? And as you point out, an address that he said, the New York Times reported, he didn’t even want to make yesterday. So…
GEIST: You look at it and you say, okay, from the point of view of the networks, let’s take a hard look at whether or not we give over our time to this President again and from the point of view of the President, what was the point of that exercise? It felt, and this entire process by the way, it feels like a colossal waste of time so he can deliver on a chant he began three years ago at some of his rallies. The government is tied up because of it, we’re tied up because of it…
GEIST: …the American people are tied up because of it and it’s all about nothing.
SCARBOROUGH: It is, it remains a Seinfeld shutdown…
BRZEZINSKI: A Seinfeld Presidency.
SCARBOROUGH: All about…all about nothing. Mike Barnicle, again, his heart wasn’t even in it last night. He’s not really good in that medium. He’s, as we’ve all said before, he can do things in front of a crowd that very few politicians can ever do. But, you know, again, most of the people that looked at this were asking the same thing. Why was he there and why did his White House staff allow him to waste one of the most powerful tools in any President’s political arsenal? Here’s Jonathan Martin, asking last night, why does the strategy behind asking for ten minutes from the networks just to do a Stephen Miller jag with no bigger plan? I guess those final words is what everybody, when they start to lose their head, for good reason, about the Trump presidency, need to understand about this man, need to understand about this presidency, there is no bigger plan. It is day trading personified in politics.
MIKE BARNICLE: Joe, I mean, that was so clear last night. This is a speech that he has given multiple times in the past, as Willie just alluded to, from his primary campaigns to the Republican Convention in Cleveland to nearly everyday, the wall, the wall, the wall. But it raises the question, an important one, for the presidency and for the citizens of this country, the television coverage of that speech last night, what happens when there is a real crisis, when there is a real emergency? Does he take to the air waves? Do we give him the air waves? Do we believe him? That’s a real question that’s going to have to be answered. The President continually refers to, he gets right up to the edge of this as a national emergency. Well, there is a national emergency, I would submit. And we saw it last night. It’s him.