Scoop about MSNBC's "Morning" Joe Scarborough! No, not confirmation that he's taking over the Don Imus slot — after five weeks, that's the most tightly-guarded open secret in town (the real question is, when is MSNBC going to switch the name of their 9pm show to "Abrams Country?"). ETP's scoop is a big one: Morning Joe isn't about 'morning joe' at all — his caffeinated morning swill of choice is none other than Diet Coke, nectar of Harvey Weinstein, supermodels, and certain highly-evolved bloggers. Scandal! Outrage! False advertising! Actually, we're kidding, though even inveterate Diet Coke drinkers like ourselves are vaguely impressed/revolted at the fact that he was drinking it at 6:00 am. Sturdy of stomach, our Joe is.
So far, "Morning Joe" is shaping up to have the same sort of freewheeling say-anything spirit of "Imus in the Morning" (well, say many things but not some things) and this morning was no exception. When frequent sidekick John Ridley asked Joe how he was doing, Joe enthused: "I've never been better! I love doing the show so early that I say things I would never say in prime time!" Like, say, admitting that he had been trying to nail down the NYT's Alessandra Stanley for lunch because he thought she was "hot." To the transcript, because framing is important:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: I've been trying to call Alessandra Stanley with the New York Times for some time just to have lunch with her, and she thinks it's because I'm trying to influence her — that's not the case at all, it's because, I was surprised, I saw a picture of her and I thought she was kinda hot!
JOHN RIDLEY: And you said, lemme make that phone call...
JOE: Well the thing is, I thought she was probably some angry, 70 year old lady that wrote really really nasty things about people on TV, and then O'Reilly was bashing her one night — not that I watch O'Reilly, but —
JOHN: Who does?
JOE: Who does — 2 million people a night, —
JOE (laughts): Shut-ins, exactly! But I'm not one of 'em — but for some reason I saw a replay of it and he was bashing Alessandra Stanley and they showed a picture of her and I was...jarred (mimes being jarred).
JOHN: When you say 'hot' you mean in an intelligent fashion — qualified —
JOE: When I say 'hot' I mean intellectually you can just look in her eyes...you can see those eyes...
JOHN: The Media Matter guys are like (makes double-take noise) "Oh, now you qualified it, I can't pull it out and put it in bold print."
Aw, sure you can, John! With context, anything is possible. After all, Joe clarified what he meant. He just liked her intellectual eyes! And also, he saw a picture of her and he thought she was kinda hot! But yes, we agree, Media Matters is totally sexist.
Actually, that came up a bit later in the show when an angry reader wrote in complaining that Joe and John were picking on the other regular guest host, Mika Brzezinski (funfact: Daughter of Zbigniew!), with whom they were kibitzing, as Brian Williams might say. The viewer, Alan from Las Vegas, took umbrage to "Two guys making fun of the blonde babe" and, in a touch of irony, advised Joe "Don't quit your day job." ETP's assessment: We can see how Alan might have thought so, because there was a fair amount of teasing going on, including running off-air footage of Mika eating a sandwich, but as a semi-regular viewer of the show, we can attest that it was fairly innocuous, and typical of the joshing relationship between Mika and Joe (NB: Mika has been a frequent guest on the show, and we have never tuned in and not seen a female guest, be it Mika or Contessa Brewer or Courtney Hazlett — and it's the sort of thing we keep an eye on). That said, the reaction was a bit vehement — understandable, considering — and for her part, Mika took offense to being called a "blonde babe" instead of, say, a journalist, and Joe made sure to clarify that they were "all very good friends here" and Mika said, "I appreciate your concern Joe — you never throw me anything I can't handle." Then she said that he deserved to be struck sometimes, and everyone was happy. Morning TV is crazy! John Ridley then took the opportunity to imply that someone from Las Vegas could not complain about sexism, which sort of missed the point — Alan invoking the paradigm of two guys making jokes at the expense of a "blonde babe" was not the same as him dismissing Mika himself as a blonde babe. Because hey, framing is everything.
That was way more than I meant to write about "Morning Joe," but that's the thing about a three-hour show: Things keep on happening. Other things that happened: Mort Zuckerman saying Mike Bloomberg had "a very real shot" at president; David Ignatius; the NYT's Sharon Waxman claiming she wasn't Heismanning Joe at some fancy lunch spot in LA; plus call-ins from Wesley Clark and WaPo's David Ignatius and NBC's Jim Miklaszewski, achieving the unlikely feat of having the most tongue-twisty name on the show.