Joe Scarborough Owes the President - and the Country - an Apology

Joe Scarborough Owes the President - and the Country - an Apology
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Joe Scarborough Owes the President - and the Country - an Apology
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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September 11 should not be about politics, nor about Donald Trump, and surely not about Joe Scarborough.  Only 17 years separated from that incredibly painful day, the solemnity of our national remembrance should remain particularly poignant and reservedly reverent.  After all, there are many thousands of still-school-aged young Americans who lost parents on that fateful day or in the global military struggle that followed. 

But MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” callously used the calamity of 9/11 to take cheap political shots at President Trump, writing in a Washington Post op-ed that he “is harming America more than any foreign adversary every could” and declaring on-air that Trump presents a “graver threat” to America than the 2001 attacks did.  Such hyperbole would be ridiculous and disqualifying coming from some anonymous troll on Twitter, but is jaw-dropping from a former congressman and prominent cable news morning host. 

Imagine, for comparison, a major television host in the 1950s, like Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Murrow, declaring that President Eisenhower presented a “graver” threat to America than Tojo and the Imperial Japanese Army did at Pearl Harbor? 

Scarborough’s comments revealed not just a hardness of heart and total lack of decorum but also an abject hypocrisy that has marked his media career. In point of fact, Scarborough provided glowing coverage to candidate Trump in 2015 and 2016.  In the early, contentious days of the GOP primary, Scarborough compared him favorably to Ronald Reagan, regularly citing his instincts and political courage.  Scarborough eviscerated critics, declaring “the level of rage among Trump’s political enemies from inside the Republican establishment … [was] astonishing” and that the MSNBC host’s “conservative friends are sounding … arrogant and unmoored.”  Candidate Trump was so appreciative that he thanked Scarborough publicly after winning the New Hampshire primary, prompting CNN to report on internal NBC angst about cozy coverage.

But, as if someone flipped a switch, once it became clear that Trump would win the nomination and that media opportunities abounded in Never-Trumpism, Joe and Mika reversed themselves almost entirely to brazen Trump skepticism.  That opposition posture then hardened after the inauguration.  Scarborough saw his Trump access removed and discerned ratings opportunities unfolding on the “resistance” side.  So, he leapt into constant Trump outrage, everywhere assailing a president for simply steadily implementing precisely the policy reforms he promised as a candidate, from tax cuts to the travel ban.   

The insults, incidentally, are not confined to the president himself, as Scarborough stands now perfectly willing to also viciously attack the 63 million Americans who voted for Trump.  He said in June that “in 20 or 30 or 40 years, this country is not going to be a majority white country.  There are people that are terrified of that.”  He also claimed the “central defining nature of [Trump’s] presidency now has to do with attacking people who are not white.”

Scarborough does not let the facts, such as record minority employment as well as steadily rising Trump approval among voters of color, interfere with his narratives, including Trump as a racist who’s somehow worse than the 9/11 jihadis.  Such provocative hysterics may paradoxically help Trump politically, just as deranged media antagonism did among voters in 2016.  Nonetheless, Scarborough should apologize for denigrating our national day of remembrance with his shameful clickbait. 

Steve Cortes is a contributor to RealClearPolitics and a CNN  political commentator. His Twitter handle is @CortesSteve.

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