MSNBC Morning Joe co-hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, have reported numerous scoops and exclusives on the Donald Trump's White House transition and cabinet nominations, and have generally given the president-elect friendly coverage. But the pair have also admitted to advising Trump — which calls much of their on-air work into question.
MSNBC's Morning Joe has generally been a place of friendly, even fawning, coverage for President-elect Donald Trump and his White House transition. Co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski have repeatedly defended their treatment of Trump in the face of criticism from other media figures, and Scarborough has lashed out angrily at critics, at one point vehemently stating, "God, you people. You need to do your job and be journalists. You're really disgusting."
But in a disturbing twist, Scarborough and Brzezinski have also confirmed that they are playing a much bigger role for this administration than simply cheerleading reporters:
The exclusives come as the pair, who often give Trump friendly coverage, have confirmed that they regularly speak directly to Trump and have reportedly been advising him, including on his cabinet selections. These reports raise questions about the journalistic ethics surrounding Morning Joe’s Trump coverage, as well as the extent of the hosts’ relationship with the president-elect.
Media Matters for America cites a New York Times article from November 19, wherein Ashley Parker and Maggie Haberman report that Trump "often seeks out" Scarborough for advice, despite having "once publicly savaged" him.
And Scarborough recently told Hadas Gold of Politico that, notwithstanding past animosity that included Scarborough comparing Trump's policies to Nazi-era Germany and Trump calling Brzezinski "crazy and very dumb," the two hosts are now in "regular communication" with Trump and that they talk to him "a few times a week." Scarborough insists that there is no difference between what is said in private conversations and what is reported on the show.
Gold notes that, in the wake of falling ratings for Morning Joe, "Trump, who had known Scarborough and Brzezinski for more than a decade, gave them an instant connection to the biggest political phenomenon of the year." At the same time, Gold reports, "An NBC source close to the show says the Trump campaign appreciated that 'Morning Joe' never wrote off their candidate, as other media did."
Taken together, all of these reports raise serious and troubling issues about the factual validity of Scarborough and Brzezinski's reporting, as well as even graver concerns about the journalistic ethics involved in such a clearly reciprocal relationship.
As MMFA notes, "These reports raise the question of whether the hosts are reporting scoops on Trump’s cabinet that they themselves have advised on."
It is a logical question to ask, and an imperative one that needs a true and full answer.
If the people reporting the news also have a hand in crafting the information within, it is difficult to know just how much a viewer can trust that what they are hearing is factual — and whether it is serving a more sinister agenda of distracting the public from things the Trump team would prefer they did not know.