Joe Scarborough: Fox News is ‘Willfully Stupid’ Or ‘Deliberately Lying’ About Claim Hillary ‘Spied’ on Trump


The set of Morning Joe was particularly animated Tuesday morning, and not just because everyone was located in the same 30 Rock studio.

What raised the pique of co-host Joe Scarborough? Fox News and other “breathless” reports from conservative media about a recent John Durham motion filing that allegedly “found” the Hillary Clinton campaign had “infiltrated” Trump Tower” servers to develop a false narrative that the Trump campaign was tied to Russia.

Anyone who viewed a bit of Fox News on Monday saw a gusher of segments pegged to a report from Brooke Singman that focused on a John Durham filing about a potential conflict of interest. The Fox News article presents a “Trump was spied on” narrative, devoid of hard evidence, but shifted the blame for the alleged “spying” from former President Barack Obama (as former President Donald Trump has alleged) to Hillary Clinton.

Singman’s report focuses on additional details included in the Durham filing, in particular, about former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, who was indicted last year for making a false statement to the FBI. The report’s initial headline misleadingly put the word “infiltrated” in quotes, as though it came from the Durham filing when that word was nowhere to be found in the Durham filing. That “infiltrated” framing was added by Kash Patel, a former Trump administration staffer and political ally of Devin Nunes.

So again, the Fox News article turbocharged the “Hillary spied on Trump” narrative that dominated right-wing media on Monday and will likely continue to do so all week. Just Tuesday morning, for example, Fox & Friends led with the story, and Steve Doocy even held up a New York Post cover that blared “Hillary the Spy” with a sub-hed adding “Outrage over the revelation that Clinton ‘paid for’ access to Trump PCs.”

Scarborough also held up the very same tabloid on Tuesday morning but did so in mockery.

NBC News reporter Tom Winter then proceeded to dispassionately dismiss much of the Fox News reporting or at least drew a skeptical eye toward the so-called smoking gun Durham filing.

“It was a 27-page indictment covering one specific count,” Winter said. “I think when you look at the totality of this, you know, time will tell whether or not payments were made and what those payments were for and whether or not it had to do with research into alfa bank, which is something that most news organizations didn’t even touch.”

“You know why? Because it is so confounding and so hard to follow,” Scarborough replied. “This pleading, which is indecipherable unless you have an agenda and you want to shoot first and ask questions later, which is what they did legally. This is confusing as the initial story. I remember when the initial story came out and I read through it and I was like, what? Everybody did. That’s why nobody paid attention to it the first time because it was so convoluted looking about DNS lookups.”

John Heilemann then pivoted to Fox News’s endless coverage of this story, saying, “one of the things about this is there’s this willful or either incredibly stupid or willful misconstruing of what this is all about.”

“Can I just say, willfully stupid? A lot of people being willfully stupid,” Scarborough interjected.

“Or just willfully misconstrued,” Heilemann replied. “You see on Fox News have Tucker Carlson and other people saying, you know, ‘they’re intercepting internet traffic, they must be looking at email or text messages.”

Scarborough added, “Now I ask you, who could be that stupid? I ask you, who could be that stupid to actually say that on their television show?”

“Or else they know,” Scarborough replied. “They know that they’re lying to their audience, that they’re liars, and they’re deliberately lying about that.”

“Yes, lying liars who lie,” Heilemann replied.

For anyone who wants a different perspective on the breathless reporting of the “worst than Watergate” presentation from Fox News, Tom Winter thoughtfully explains why this isn’t getting the sort of media coverage on other outlets.

Watch above via MSNBC.

Additional reporting by Michael Luciano.

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Colby Hall is the Founding Editor of He is also a Peabody Award-winning television producer of non-fiction narrative programming as well as a terrific dancer and preparer of grilled meats.