MSNBC gave Donald Trump a campaign commercial that was disguised as a town hall, and the critics noticed Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski’s fawning treatment of Trump.
Video of MSNBC’s Trump town hall:
It was clear that viewers were not going to be treated to a real town hall event when Scarborough and Brzezinski spent the first twelve minutes of the program lobbying softballs to Trump. At nearly the midway point of the show, Trump finally took a question from the audience, but those questions were very few and far between as most of the program was dedicated to Scarborough fawning over Trump and wishing that the program was three hours long instead of an hour.
Media critics also noticed that MSNBC allowed Scarborough and Brzezinski to hold a Trump lovefest that was a disgrace to journalism.
Lloyd Grove of The Daily Beast was kinder to Scarborough and MSNBC, “It’s hard to see how Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the interrogators in Wednesday night’s “MSNBC Exclusive”—namely, a hastily scheduled town hall in Charleston, South Carolina, featuring the Republican frontrunner and counterprogrammed against CNN’s non-Trump town hall—could have contained the sheer relentlessness of Hurricane Trump as it spouted slogans and sentence fragments from the tape loop whirling wildly inside its fevered eye.”
For starters, Joe and Mika could have challenged Trump’s talking points by pinning him down and forcing him to answer. Other journalists have not been afraid to make Trump answer by making him stay on topic, but Joe and Mika are Trump approved media friends, so there was no chance of that happening at the MSNBC town hall.
Slate’s Isaac Chotiner zeroed in on the softballs that were sent Trump’s way, “Scarborough and Brzezinski hosted what appeared to be a rehearsed and “safe” town hall, in which American voters asked the candidate such hard-hitting questions as “Why did you decide to run for president?” and “how will you set yourself apart” from other Republicans? It was completely worthless television, except in one sense: The program highlighted the many ways in which the media’s coverage of Trump has been soft, insufficient, and without substance.”
Erik Wemple of The Washington Post also pointed out how the MSNBC morning hosts let Trump off the hook, “Any hourlong session with Donald Trump that doesn’t ask him about those obscenities (racism and bigotry) is a puff session. Allowing this fellow to pronounce on entitlement reform, strategies on ISIS, campaign tactics, Iraq, Jeb Bush, healthcare reform, gun rights, Supreme Court nominations and other such topics without grinding through an extensive accounting of his racism and bigotry is an outrage only sightly less egregious than the candidate’s own.”
It was obvious for all to see that Donald Trump got his buddies Joe and Mika to give a free hour of advertising disguised as a town hall days before the South Carolina Republican primary. MSNBC has not offered to give Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders their own individual town halls. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, and Ben Carson would also like an hour of free advertising. MSNBC is putting Clinton and Sanders on the same bill for a town hall, but Donald Trump was given his own special event with his friends.
What MSNBC televised wasn’t journalism. It was a Trump informercial. The network and their morning hosts deserve to be savaged for such an obvious ratings grab.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association