Several off-air moments were caught on a hot mic during Donald Trump’s town hall with Morning Joe co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough last week. What was heard is adding to the perception, by some critics, that the media personalities are too friendly with the candidate.
Early in the leaked recording, Brzezinski refers to a Trump rally in South Carolina last week when the candidate called an Iraq War veteran and another supporter to the stage. The latter spoke of how he went from being a disbeliever to a full-on Trump backer in the race. The former reality TV star wanted to thank both for getting a protester, who was shouting profanities, out of the room.
“You know what I thought was kind of a ‘wow’ moment, was the guy you brought up on stage,” Brzezinski tells Trump.
“We played it several times this morning,” Scarborough told the candidate.
“I watched your show this morning,” Trump responded. “You have me almost as a legendary figure, I like that.”
After that, Brzezinski thanked Trump for agreeing to the interview. “You, you get great ratings and a raise,” he told her. “Me, I get nothing.”
“This will make us all look good,” Trump said, to which Scarborough replied, “Exactly.”
Listen to the leaked audio here starting at 21:25:
The candidate then asked Scarborough what he thought of his performance during the CBS debate, the day before. “The next morning when I saw the CBS poll, I knew that the people who mattered didn’t think you lost it,” Scarborough said. “I mean, you came in a strong second. And I’ll tell you what was the most revealing thing was [Jeb Bush] came in last, the guy you attacked.”
Between one of the commercial breaks, Brzezinski tried to ask Scarborough discreetly, “Do you not want me to do, the um, the ones with, um, deportation?”
“We really do have to go to some questions,” Scarborough responded.
“That’s right. Nothing too hard, Mika,” Trump joked.
“Okay,” Brzezinski can be heard saying to someone.
Callum Borchers of The Washington Post does not believe the MSNBC pair was doing anything that made them appear to be getting too cozy with Trump. “[T]hese exchanges sound more like slightly awkward small talk than a conspiracy to lob softballs. Should Scarborough and Brzezinski really have said, ‘No, Donald, we’re going to ask super-hard questions and make you look awful?’”
“It’s worth remembering that the Morning Joe co-hosts are analysts, not straight-news reporters; they shouldn’t be held to the same standard of total neutrality. Scarborough is a former Republican congressman from Florida; he’s on TV for his insight and also as a counterweight to MSNBC’s often left-leaning roster of commentators,” the Post added.