"Morning Joe" is a chauvinist "civility" crusader with a badly inflated ego
Nothing sums up everything hatable about cable news and politics and possibly America itself better than “Morning Joe,” MSNBC’s daily extended advertisement for Starbucks products and Joe Scarborough’s odd belief that he is funny and charming.
The former Florida congressman and possibly attorney of some kind followed up his unremarkable political career by becoming a wildly successful moderate TV talker. (“Wildly successful” in terms of monetary compensation and publicity — his show is watched by less than half the number of people who watch Fox’s daily televised morning train wreck “Fox & Friends.”) Joe’s supposed to be some sort of maverick because he’s not a doctrinaire Republican (anymore), but what he is is a totally doctrinaire member of the moderate Beltway political establishment.
So every morning he and Mika Brzezinski — who either pretends to be a weak-willed flighty moron because she thinks it’s necessary for her continued professional success as Joe’s oft-belittled second banana/screwball love interest or who is actually tragically stupid — perform the world’s most self-satisfied kaffeeklatsch (along with Willie Geist, the former Tucker Carlson sidekick and a man born to play the guy who dies first in a war movie). Their rotating cast of regular guests includes some of the biggest superstars in political hackery, from Jon Meacham to Mark Halperin to Whitey Bulger-defender/plagiarist Mike Barnicle, but what people who are far too easily entertained love most is the “banter,” that nonstop juvenile japery that I guess passes for wit when it’s 6:30 a.m. and you’re a tragically dull Washington, D.C., lifer. Joe can’t stop cracking up at the word “sodomized” during a discussion of … rape charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn! Hysterical stuff.
(Let’s pause here to remember Scarborough’s long history of being a sanctimonious “decency” crusader, demanding tough FCC penalties for fleeting obscenities on television, which seems to have ended after he said “fuck you” on air one morning, at which point his show instituted a somewhat glitchy seven-second delay.)
It’s Mr. Scarborough’s jocular chauvinism that is the most immediately repellent thing about him and his program, but what may be even hackier is his utterly unself-aware devotion to the “civility” myth. The civility crowd consists of a bunch of rich elites who’ve convinced themselves that all of America’s problems (their list of America’s problems basically consists of the federal deficit and “incivility”) would be solved if Republicans and Democrats sat down in a room and all agreed to basically become Rockefeller Republicans. This weird fantasy animates most of Scarborough’s political analysis, which is especially rich coming from an actual former Republican congressman who rode into Congress not based on a nationwide yearning for civility but rather run-of-the-mill right-wing anger, and who eventually voted to impeach a president for nakedly partisan reasons.
As an official political media elite professional, Joe rails against the “media elite” in columns written for Politico, the D.C. newspaper and website that used to publish Scarborough alongside a liberal counterpart until the liberal counterpart left and wasn’t replaced. These columns, amateurishly written and barely edited, show just how easy it is to become an important political power player if you have the requisite Bloombergian opinions and the correctly sized head for television.
HACKIEST 2011 MOMENT:
His unconscionably bad 9/11 “tribute song,” an ill-conceived celebrity vanity project that becomes more offensive the more you think of it.
- – - – - – - – - -
More Related Stories
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Guantánamo prisoner on hunger strike cries for help on Twitter
- 3 possible solutions to international tax avoidance
- “I just want the U.S. to send my father home”
- Army weapons engineer tied to white nationalist organizations
- Ted Cruz against the world
- David Vitter's hypocritical, punitive, horrible new amendment
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- Could hackers destroy the U.S. power grid?
- Democrats may be even worse than Republicans at regulating Wall Street
- Eric Holder versus journalism
- A progressive defense of drones
- There's no substitute for government disaster relief
- Holder signed off on search warrant for reporter
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- Closing Gitmo is not enough
- Murkowski: Palin too disengaged to run for Senate
- In IRS scandal, new GOP tactic is ignorance
- Code Pink activist berates Obama at national security speech
- Cuomo: "Shame on us" if New York City elects Weiner
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11
The Salon Hack List is our annual countdown of our least favorite media personalities, ranked (very roughly) in order of awfulness. This is our 2011 list. 2010's Hack Thirty is here.