Billionaire Boys Club: Morning Joe Kisses the Koch Brothers Ring

By Peter Daou and Tom Watson

UPDATE (11/4/15): Sen. Harry Reid mocks Morning Joe:

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday slammed the hosts of "Morning Joe" for their interview with Charles and David Koch, arguing that the media "rolls over" for the conservative billionaires.
Reid mocked the MSNBC hosts for asking questions about whether the Kochs play rugby or if they think they got their interest in philanthropy from their mother. 
"That's very good. Wow. Those were some really tough questions asked by the host of 'Morning Joe.' That's sufficient journalism," Reid said from the Senate floor. "Those questions are so easy, they may even qualify them to moderate the next Republican presidential debate."


MSNBC’s Morning Joe has become the 2016 election’s self-styled Hillary-bashing central, a boy’s club gabfest whose primary audience is the media chattering class.

Day after day, former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough and his co-host Mika Brzezinski preside over cliquish male-dominated panels that faithfully recite Beltway conventional wisdom. And without fail, they always return to the same theme: attacking Hillary Clinton.

As we’ve documented at #HillaryMen, the narratives and frames that permeate the daily Morning Joe sliming of Hillary come from shadowy conservative oppo groups bankrolled by Republican billionaires.

Today, in a much-touted interview, Joe and Mika met their intellectual paymasters, Charles and David Koch.

Obsequiousness quickly followed.

Media Matters compiled some of the more sycophantic questions (the first is our favorite):

  • Scarborough to David Koch: Hard to find anyone in New York who hasn't been "touched by your graciousness," did you get that "from your mom?"
  • Scarborough to Charles Koch: "How surprised" are you about "the level of vitriol leveled against you?"
  • Scarborough to Charles Koch: "How did you feel" when "you guys won?"
  • Scarborough to Charles Koch: How did you become "one of the most influential people in the world?"
  • Brzezinski to the Kochs: "Which one was the good brother" growing up?
  • Scarborough to the Koch Brothers: "Talk about ... how you guys are just different."
  • Brzezinski comments on Koch Industries' revenues: "It's pretty good, I would say those are good numbers."

This from two media personalities who conduct furious interrogations of anyone saying anything positive about Hillary Clinton. There’s a reason for this brown-nosing, as IBT explains:

Both Brzezinski and Scarborough earlier this year attended a weekend in Palm Springs, California, for the American Recovery Policy Forum, put on by the Kochs' organization, the tax-exempt Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce. The weekend was closed to the public and the media but nevertheless contained many members of the press—including ABC News' Jonathan Karl—who networked with donors, business leaders and other denizens of the Koch kingdom. Also in attendance were presidential candidates Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio, who headlined the event with an informal debate around "free markets and the role of government."

Neither MSNBC nor the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce would answer questions about whether the Koch organization paid the travel or other expenses for the MSNBC hosts. Once the MSNBC duo returned to New York to tape their show, they treated viewers to several days of glowing reports from their trip to Kochland. Brzezinski, the resident liberal to Scarborough's cranky-but-lovable conservative persona, raved for two days about the unappreciated passions of the "awesome" oil magnates as her male co-host nodded beside her.

At Esquire, Charles Pierce comments on the IBT revelation:

Remember back a few years when NBC got all righteous and suspended Keith Olbermann because he'd contributed some money to a couple of candidates, and MSNBC couldn't have that because integrity?

We’re not surprised that the Morning Joe crew are sucking up to the Kochs – after all, they have to do the bidding of those who fund the attacks against Hillary.

In a recent article, the NY Times described Morning Joe as a "low-rated basic cable talk show." We’ll expand on that: it's a low-rated basic cable talk show caught on the wrong side of history and doubling down on their mistake.


Peter Daou and Tom Watson founded #HillaryMen to provide actionable analysis of the 2016 campaign focusing on the gender barrier in U.S. politics. Peter is a former senior digital adviser to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative. He is a veteran of two presidential campaigns (Kerry '04 and Clinton '08). Tom is an author and Columbia University lecturer who advises companies and non-profits on social activism.