Donald Trump's failure to explicitly disavow the Ku Klux Klan and former Grand Wizard David Duke is "disqualifying," Joe Scarborough declared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday.Scarborough also published op-ed in The Washington Post today on the same subject:
"It’s breathtaking. That is disqualifying right there. To say you don’t know about the Ku Klux Klan? You don’t know about David Duke?" the co-host said during the opening segment of the show after remarking upon Trump's feigned ignorance of the group and Duke during an interview with CNN on Sunday, two days after he explicitly disavowed the group in a news conference.
They weren’t hard questions to answer.In the op-ed Scarborough sounds high-minded in his denunciation of bigotry:
“Do you condemn David Duke? And the Ku Klux Klan?”
A simple “yes” would have worked. But on Sunday, Donald Trump swatted away the easy answers and instead feigned ignorance about the KKK and its most infamous Grand Wizard. The Republican frontrunner’s failure to provide what should have been a simple answer has raised even more disturbing questions about the man who is on course to lock down the GOP’s nomination for president.
The first question is why would Trump pretend to be so ignorant of American history that he refused to pass judgment on the Ku Klux Klan before receiving additional information? What kind of facts could possibly mitigate a century of sins committed by a violent hate group whose racist crimes terrorized Americans and placed a shameful blot on this nation’s history?But, for Scarborough, it's also about victory for his party:
These are questions that have no good answers for a Republican Party on the verge of nominating a man who sounds more like a Dixiecrat from the 1950s than the kind of nominee the GOP needs four years after losing Hispanics by 44 percent, Asian-Americans by 47 percent, and black Americans by 87 percent.And, ultimately, this is more about rescuing Scarborough's own reputation than it is about condemning Trump. Scarborough was widely criticized after Harry Shearer posted a tape of excessively chummy off-the-air chat during a town hall forum Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski hosted for Trump. Scarborough's credibility took a hit, and he's trying to rescue it.
But he's not doing that in an honest way. In the op-ed, Scarborough writes:
Sunday’s distressing performance is just the latest in a string of incidents that suggest to critics that Donald Trump is using bigotry to fuel his controversial campaign. The most explicit of all examples was his December proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Mika Brzezinski, my “Morning Joe” co-host, called that political promise “frightening” and our debate with Trump got so heated that I eventually hung up on the candidate during the interview.Scarborough links to a New York Times post about the March 8 broadcast -- but the Times post says Scarborough didn't hang up on Trump. Nor did Scarborough specifically refer to the Trump's racism when he became angry with Trump:
After Mr. Trump repeatedly interrupted questions about his plan to ban Muslim immigration from the co-host Mika Brzezinski, Mr. Scarborough scolded Mr. Trump for not allowing the hosts to ask the candidate questions and, finally, threatened to send the program into a commercial break if Mr. Trump did not stop speaking.(Emphasis added.)
“Go to break, go to break right now,” Mr. Scarbourough eventually demanded.
When Mr. Trump kept talking, Mr. Scarborough interrupted him: “Hold on, Donald. You got to let us ask questions. You can’t just talk.”
Mr. Trump kept talking anyway. “I’m not just talking,” he said.
As the exchange intensified, a clearly displeased Mr. Scarborough repeatedly tried to stop Mr. Trump from speaking over him.
“Go to break, then, Joe,” Mr. Trump said, tauntingly.
So Mr. Scarborough did. The segment abruptly ended.
After the commercial, the program returned with Mr. Trump still on the phone, tamer this time, answering questions from the hosts of “Morning Joe.”
Also see this CNN story:
MSNBC then cut to commercial and returned, with Trump, who took questions from the "Morning Joe" panel.So Scarborough never "hung up on" Trump in response to Trump's bigotry.
And Scarborough's claim in the op-ed that "our debate with Trump got so heated" raises a question: What do you mean "our debate," Joe? The clip doesn't show what happened after Scarborough cut to commercial, but it shows the conversation leading up to that moment -- and in that conversation, Scarborough says nothing to Trump until he complains about Trump's rudeness, not about his bigotry. Brzezinski conducts the interview solo. She asks about bigotry, but Scarborough remains silent, then complains that Trump is talking too much, not that he's preaching hate. Watch:
In the op-ed, Scarborough writes:
The day I hung up on Donald Trump, I asked on air, “Is this what Germany looked like in 1933?”To his credit, Scarborough did say that -- though he didn't have the guts to say it to Trump while Trump was on the air. He let Brzezinski do all the talking.
Yes, Scarborough denounced Trump's bigotry. However, this doesn't put Scarborough's relationship with Trump in a better light. I'd say it puts it in a worse light -- Scarborough has acknowledged that Trump is a hatemonger, based on statements Trump has never walked back, yet Scarborough and his co-host are still cozy with Trump, as that off-air town hall audio made clear.
And Scarborough still can't really condemn Trump. Look at the headline for today's Trump segment on the Morning Joe website:
Joe to Trump: Clean this up before Super TuesdayYou really have to stop this, Donald. You have one more chance. I'm serious this time.
No, that's not how you respond to a hatemonger -- with yet another mulligan. But this is Joe Scarborough we're talking about, so we should expect no less.