"Morning Joe's" Nazi freakout: Joe Scarborough is a bullying egomaniac (pt. 134)

If you saw the MSNBC host's latest temper tantrum, you saw a good example of everything wrong with political media

By Jack Mirkinson
Published May 22, 2015 9:59AM (EDT)
Joe Scarborough                (NBC/Today)
Joe Scarborough (NBC/Today)

Whether we like it or not—and, if you have a soul and a conscience, you know which of those is the right emotion to have—the 2016 presidential campaign is happening. It is a thing. It is real, and we have to deal with it, just like other fun things everyone is looking forward to living with for a while longer. (ISIS, for one, springs to mind.)

Of course, this task, while inherently depressing, would be a hell of a lot easier if it didn't come with a heaping dose of media horribleness. But if history is anything to go by, we are in for a long, protracted descent into madness and hell, with the press corps as our cheerful hosts.

We don't have to look hard to find a prime example of the self-aggrandizing pointlessness of what's in store for us. Let me take you all the way back to Wednesday, when two people named Joe spent five minutes sniping at each other about whether or not one Joe called the other Joe a Nazi.

The first Joe was "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough. The second one was non-"Morning Joe"-host-but-still-human-named-Joe (and former Salon writer) Joe Conason.

Before we continue, let me pause for a moment to say a few things. First, it remains an empirical fact that the only really good thing to ever happen on "Morning Joe" was the week-long feud the show had with "The View" about Barbara Walters' vibrator humor. That was in 2009. Basically everything else has been a lot like this Wednesday segment, where Joe Scarborough, Noted Insider, flaunts his high-powered connections; hectors, interrupts and shouts at people (including, very often, his co-host Mika Brzezinski); and generally revels in the fact that he's part of an elite crew that only ever talks to each other.

Second, the two worst things about "Morning Joe" are the people it brings on—think of the worst Tom Friedman column you've ever thrown across a room made flesh and you get a rough idea of the kinds of panels we're talking about—and its wholly unearned status as a bastion of smart television. In reality, of course, it is a nearly fact-free echo chamber of horror and doom where the same 15 centrist pundits trade banal judgments about whether Chris Christie will ever come back or why whichever CEO who happens to be on is the newest Jesus.

(Apologies for the above rant, but nobody who has been forced to watch as much "Morning Joe" as I have can be neutral on the subject.)

OK, back to Wednesday. Sometimes the show brings on a guest who's not on every other day to mix things up. On Wednesday, Joe Conason was fulfilling this role. The subject was Hillary Clinton's emails. This is a subject that, no matter what happens between now and November 2016, "Morning Joe" will likely talk about every single day, and Wednesday was no different. Conason did himself no favors by quoting something Winston Churchill said about "the Hun," which allowed Scarborough to move swiftly onto his favorite topic: himself. Sample dialogue (courtesy of Newsbusters):

SCARBOROUGH: No, no, Let me finish.  You compared me to a Nazi. You compared me to a Nazi.

CONASON: No, I didn't.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes, you did. You brought up a Churchill quote when he was talking about the Nazis.

CONASON: He wasn't talking about the Nazis. He wasn't talking about the Nazis.  This was after World War I.

SCARBOROUGH: The Huns. Whatever.

CONASON: They were not Nazis. They were Huns.

I will spare you the rest of this thrilling encounter. (Conason explains the episode himself over at the National Memo.) Rest assured, anyone tuning in expecting to actually, y'know, find anything out about Hillary Clinton, or the Nazis, or World War I even (did you know they also called it the "Great War"?) would be singularly disappointed.

And anyone expecting that we'll get more real information and less hollow bloviating from "Morning Joe" or any of its brethren as the months grind on will likewise find themselves singularly disappointed. Information, or "news" as it may once have been described, is not the objective of these shows, or of campaign coverage as a whole. None of these people actually care about you, or what you want to know about.

But there's a silver lining: if you're looking for a bright, shining symbol of the absolute drivel that is our mainstream campaign coverage, all you have to do is remember this "Morning Joe" segment. So if, at some point in the next year, you find yourself throwing your television out the window or softly weeping as you put your Washington Post through the shredder, and you're praying that it will stop, you can just recall what you've seen and heard today and remember that this stuff never, ever stops, and that Joe Scarborough will probably be on television for the next 95 years. I'm so, so sorry.

Jack Mirkinson

Jack Mirkinson is a writer living in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @jackmirkinson.

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