The Morning Joe Formula: Fawn Over a Guest, Then Shank Them


Morning Joe invited renowned mudslinger Michael Wolff on the show Thursday, in light of his surreptitious efforts to suggest an affair between U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley and President Donald Trump — and the show continued its long-running tradition of shanking the garbage people it has legitimized once it becomes fashionable.

Wolff’s interview started off well enough, with the author commenting on the latest revelations in the Russia investigation, which corroborate some of the reporting in his controversial and fact-challenged expose of the Trump White House, Fire and Fury.

Things derailed — almost perfectly, as if the whole spectacle were choreographed — when the discussion turned to Wolff’s insinuations about Haley, as well as his comments that the U.N. ambassador “embraced” the rumors about her affair with Trump — rumors she called “disgusting.”

MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski expressed her own disgust with her guest, calling the slur against Haley “disgraceful.” Wolff feigned ignorance, arguing that it was strange that Haley had denied the rumors despite never having been accused of anything.

“I found it puzzling that she would deny something that she was not accused of,” Wolff said. Though Wolff never explicitly claimed Haley and Trump were sleeping together, the slimy breadcrumbs he left sufficed to lead those curious enough to Haley.

“She has decided to deny what she was not accused of,” Wolff added, doubling down on his absurd defense.

“Come on, are you kidding?” Brzezinski shot back. “You’re on the set of Morning Joe, we don’t BS here.”

“If you don’t get what we’re talking about, I’m sorry, this is awkward, you’re here on the set with us, but we’re done,” Brzezinski said next, ending the interview and throwing to commercial. She was praised on social media for her on-air flogging of Wolff, who added fuel to the fire engulfing his reputation in a bizarre tweetstorm after the interview.

The tide has certainly turned on Michael Wolff. When his explosive book first started trickling out in excerpts, the media was transfixed by its contents. Even skeptics heralded its stunning revelations about the inner-politics of the Trump White House as “ringing true,” despite being riddled with inaccuracies and questionable reporting.

The promotion of Fire and Fury was widespread, but Morning Joe was perhaps chief amongst its author’s enablers. In a remarkable demonstration of their tolerance for BS, Wolff appeared on the breakfast show for an extensive interview with Mika and Joe Scarborough last month.

Over the course of two segments interrupted by one commercial break, Joe & Mika fawned over Wolff’s reporting, bringing up the inaccuracies in his book only to illustrate what his “critics” could use to undermine his conclusions.

“The criticism of Michael’s book is that he doesn’t get everything exactly right,” Scarborough explained. “That’s what happens when you interview a thousand different people.”

“But the spirit of it is completely true,” Mika added emphatically. The rest of the interview would be spent speculating about whether Trump had lost his mind.

But since Wolff’s smear of Haley, arriving after the media came down from the high his book’s juicy revelations inspired, the moral arbiters at Morning Joe have apparently turned their backs on Wolff.

MSNBC commentator Susan Del Percio grilled Wolff on Thursday, claiming his affair comments were made with “no proof.”

“Don’t you find that absolutely irresponsible, at this point in time where we are as a society?” she asked (a criticism that should have been made when Joe & Mika first interviewed Wolff in January.)

The lionization of Wolff on the set of Morning Joe, followed by his awfully contrived shanking on Thursday, is reminiscent of another figure whose once gushing coverage on the show has now soured: Donald Trump.

As critics of the MSNBC program never tire of pointing out, before Joe & Mika became experts on Trump’s deteriorating mental health, they were unbearably chummy with him. They covered his election campaign like he was their preferred child running for class president, and invited him on the show for fact-check-free interviews chock full of playful repartee.

It’s not hard to find the last time Mika became so enraged with a guest she ended an interview abruptly. It was back in 2015, when she cut off the Daily Beast’s Tim Mak for reporting on a marital rape claim made against Trump by his first wife Ivana in the 1990s.

“Okay, you guys all let me know when you are going uncover something new,” Brzezinski told Mak dismissively, cutting off the interview early.

[image via screengrab]

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This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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Aidan McLaughlin is the Editor of Mediaite. Send tips via email: Ask for Signal. Follow him on Twitter: @aidnmclaughlin