Must-Watch TV: Morning Joe Hosts Squirm as McCaskill Chides Them for Hillary-Bashing

By Peter Daou and Tom Watson

UPDATE (10/13/15): What better evidence of Morning Joe's clear anti-Hillary agenda than the Republican National Committee prominently featuring Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough in an attack ad against Hillary?

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We’ve been monitoring the Morning Joe vendetta against Hillary Clinton for months, carefully tracking instances of gender bias, frat boy taunts, baseless innuendo and unwarranted personal attacks. Although their ratings are tanking, the show reflects the Beltway media's conventional wisdom and we believe it is important to call out their anti-Hillary agenda. On September 22nd we wrote

You can set your clock by this: turn on MSNBC any morning of the week and you’ll immediately be served a big, rancid dose of Hillary hate. Women will instantly recognize the bullying taunts, the condescending eye rolls, the seething sarcasm. It is the sound and sight of misogyny in action, the verbal bashing of a woman because she’s a woman. 

No male candidate is ever treated with the same disdain and disrespect. No self-respecting network would ever stand for it. Hillary Clinton is the sole exception; the rules of decency and dignity do not apply to her when it comes to Morning Joe.

It is an ugly and self-righteous spectacle, rife with misleading allegations, insinuations and false indignation. Searching for words to describe Morning Joe’s particular brand of anti-Hillary invective, we’ve described it as “an unhealthy and unhinged combination of envy, awe, muted rage and dripping disdain.”

Today, Claire McCaskill confronted the Morning Joe hosts for their double standard – and the ensuing discussion was riveting, if only to see Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski squirm and weasel, trying desperately to pretend they are fair to Hillary. See it for yourself:

In case anyone is wondering about the validity of Scarborough and Brzezinski’s excuses, here are just a few examples of their vicious attacks against Hillary in recent months:

After Hillary’s exhilarating speech rallying “Women for Hillary” in Wisconsin, Scarborough observed: “That was a horrific performance. That is horrific.” Yet, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had a very different take: “…a rousing 20-minute speech Thursday evening inside a packed room at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Union, Clinton framed issues such as equal pay for women, student loan debt and the Black Lives Matter movement as crucial for not just women, students and African-Americans, but the entire country.”

Smirking about the email issue and repeating the false story of a criminal investigation, Scarborough lamented his own party’s performance: “When Hillary Clinton has FBI helicopters swirling around her headquarters and is basically saying ‘Please, please, I’m obstructing justice, please take me away.’”

The host and panel ripped another Hillary appearance in Iowa: “Hillary Clinton’s performance there was dismal. She is reading notes every three words while she’s attacking Donald Trump—she can’t draw these crowds right now.” Chimed in Brzezinski: “It feels like the approach to the campaign is 90s-esque.” Then Republican strategist Steve Schmidt said it was hard to tell apart Clinton from Saturday Night Live’s impersonation of her. “The performance level is beyond abysmal. It’s horrendous, and it’s completely out of step with the mood of the country right now.”

It goes on. As we’ve highlighted previously, consider this exchange:

“You want me to indict and damn Hillary Clinton and I’m not going to do it.” This was an exasperated NYT reporter Jeremy Peters on the set of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” as Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski tried to chip away at him and push him to personally declare that Clinton did something horribly wrong. The topic was Clinton’s infamous email server, which, in recent weeks, has absolutely outraged Brzezinski.

Or this:

The panel of MSNBC’s Morning Joe mocked Hillary Clinton for her wardrobe choice during a press conference about her emails, saying it looked like a prison jumpsuit or Mao Zedong. 

Or this:

Joe Scarborough suggests Clinton planned questions about her server to coincide with Virginia shooting coverage.

Or this:

Falsely claiming that President Obama had signed regulations on email use while Clinton was still at the State Department, Scarborough asserted that her practices were not permitted and that it was inaccurate for Clinton to cite other former secretaries of state in her defense since the policies didn't exist while they were in office.

Or this:

Scarborough: "You have to be really stupid" to trust Hillary Clinton's "ridiculous" story.

Or this:

During an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius thoroughly debunked arguments that Hillary Clinton should be charged with a crime as a result of her use of a private email system while serving as secretary of state. When MSNBC re-aired the first hour of its program later in the morning, the bulk of Ignatius' debunking had been edited out.

Not content with months of anti-Hillary tirades, Morning Joe sank to a new low, with Scarborough falsely accusing Hillary of starting the “birther” movement and claiming that lies were “spread by the Clinton family” in 2008.

So much for Brzezinski trying to innocently justify the Morning Joe Hillary bash-fest as “questions.” As we’ve argued repeatedly, it is long past time for the national media, led by the NY Times and Morning Joe, to rethink their transparent attempts to undermine the candidacy of the first woman with a viable shot at the White House.

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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.