'Morning Joe' hosts jump to a defense (their own)

There's no need for any corporate team-building exercises at MSNBC's "Morning Joe" juggernaut. At least not after a mutual admiration society broke out Friday.

Co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski were in a decidedly upbeat, if navel-gazing mode as they defended themselves against suggestions that they've been unfair to either of the main presidential candidates.

This justification of their 2016 campaign analyses was prompted by an inartful attack on the press by Donald Trump Jr. during a Philadelphia radio appearance.

"Without the media, this wouldn't even be a contest, but the media has built her up, they've let her slide on every discrepancy, on every lie, on every DNC game, trying to get Bernie Sanders out of the thing," he said. "If Republicans were doing that, they'd be warming up the gas chamber right now."

And while later insisting he wasn't alluding to Nazi Germany, but referring instead to capital punishment, the son's chagrin with press coverage remains in the face of his dad's daily obfuscations and outright deceits. And it's pretty much the same with Hillary Clinton, whose relationship with the media has been prickly and defensive (for about four decades).

"First of all," said Scarborough, "You can look at the statement and it's obviously 'gas chamber,' a reference you want to stay away from. We've all made a rule: stay away from all Nazi references."

"And it's not true the media has given Hillary a free ride," he said. "The New York Times has torn her to shreds on the emails." There are reasons her ratings for being honest and trustworthy are so low, in some cases worse than Trump's, he said.

"But the media's not supposed to be giving rides, anyway," responded Brzezinski. "Ah, on our show it's very clear you're a Republican, I'm a Democrat and all that. People are pretty clear as to what our sort of political reality, backgrounds and worldviews are. I have been tougher on Hillary Clinton than…"

"You've been brutal," Scarborough talked over her. "You’ve been very brutal on Hillary Clinton. The Clinton campaign has thought for over a year that you've been unfair, you've been too harsh on them. Just like the Trump campaign has thought that about both of us for the past three or four months."

So the dumb remark by Trump's son about "gas chambers," is "probably good politics as far as ginning up the base," according to a TV host who's very much an expert on core GOP constituencies.

Though the weekend beckoned, more evidence of the media as self-regarding piñata might be found when "Morning Joe" returns to action Monday.

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    James Warren

    New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S. News & World Report. Former managing editor and Washington Bureau Chief, Chicago Tribune.


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