During Monday’s broadcast of Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough had to be corrected by co-host Mika Brzezinski after Scarborough had claimed former President Ronald Reagan immediately canceled a vacation and flew back to Washington after a Korean airliner was shot down by the Soviet Union in 1983. The claim by Scarborough came during a discussion about President Obama and his administration’s adherence to a daily schedule in the face of crises. Mika brought up a New York Times article by Michael Shear as a discussion point. She also added to the conversation by bringing up the recent comparisons that conservatives have made between Obama and their idol Reagan.
Below is video of the segment, courtesy of MSNBC:
After Mika had brought up the comparisons being made between Obama and Reagan, she pointed out that President Reagan waited four days to go back to Washington and address the nation on the Korean airliner incident. He was on a 25-day vacation at his ranch in California and did not want to leave. After allowing an aide of his to respond the day of the incident, the President did make a short statement later on. However, he did not make his “strong statements” regarding the Soviets until four days after the plane was shot down. Conservatives have tried to make it appear that Reagan dropped everything and made addressing the nation his first priority.
Below is the relevant exchange between Mika and Joe where Joe refutes Mika’s statements regarding the timeline for Reagan.
BRZEZINSKI: At the same time there’s these parallels being made to Ronald Reagan and how he responded to the Korean airliner. It took him four days to go back and make the strong statements that he made, just for some perspective.
SCARBOROUGH: He immediately canceled his vacation.
BRZEZINSKI: No, he didn’t, actually.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, he actually did.
BRZEZINSKI: No, he didn’t immediately cancel it.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, he did. He immediately canceled it. He immediately went back to the White House. He immediately canceled fund-raising events and campaign events. Yes, he did. You can go back and look. Ronald Reagan didn’t keep campaigning. He stopped when the Korean airliner went down.
Eventually, Mika just gave up as she could tell Joe wasn’t going to be swayed from his wrongly-held notion that St. Ronnie hopped on Air Force One as soon as he heard the news about the plane being shot down and went into full-on crisis management mode. After tossing out a little more Reagan-worship, Scarborough proceeded to rip the Obama Administration for engaging in “bad theater,” suggesting that President Obama is more interested in drinking beer, shooting pool and eating cheeseburgers than dealing with issues like the border crisis or the situation in Gaza.
After the segment was over, Scarborough had to feast on a good helping of crow. On Twitter, Scarborough sent the following tweet admitting he was wrong over his statements on Reagan.
And thanks to all the kind souls on Twitter who pointed out my boneheaded error as well. You are great ombudsmen! I was wrong. @morningmika
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) July 21, 2014
It is possible that a producer told Scarborough right after the segment that he was dead wrong and he should really recant. Or perhaps Joe was truthful when he said it was the reaction he saw on Twitter to his comments that caused him to apologize. Either way, while he did make a correction via Twitter, it doesn’t stop the fact that he spewed terrible disinformation on the air in an effort to portray the current president in a terrible light. The worst part is that almost immediately after conservatives started their little meme about Reagan’s reaction to the Korean airliner, fact-checkers pointed out that Reagan waited four days before addressing the nation. Scarborough should have known that and quite possibly did.
The fact is, the President first mentioned the Malaysian plane crash the day it happened. The following day, after US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power spoke to the United Nations Security Council, President Obama then addressed the nation about the incident and provided the facts as they were known at the time. Therefore, the President made comments about the airliner the day of the incident and then made a full address to the nation the following day. However, this isn’t as good of a response as Reagan’s was to a similar incident, where he insisted on staying on vacation and only addressed the nation four days later.
According to conservative logic, a Republican president’s response to an incident is deemed ‘immediate’ and ‘strong’ if he stays on vacation and then waits a few days before doing anything. However, a Democratic president’s response is ‘weak’ and ‘delayed’ and ‘insufficient’ if he mentions the event right away and then makes a full address the next day. Got it.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).