Morning Joe reported that Saddam allegedly financed three Dems' Iraq trip, but not that DOJ reportedly said they didn't know

››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

On Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough discussed "[a] trip made by three U.S. lawmakers to Iraq before the war [that] was secretly financed by -- Saddam Hussein." Brzezinski stated, "The dates of the tour match one taken by Democratic representatives Jim McDermott, David Bonior, and Mike Thompson." But neither Brzezinski nor Scarborough mentioned that, as reported on the Morning Joe on-screen news ticker, "The Justice Department [told] NBC News it is satisfied the lawmakers believed in good faith the trip was funded by a legitimate charity."

On the March 27 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski reported that "[a] trip made by three U.S. lawmakers to Iraq before the war was secretly financed by -- Saddam Hussein." Brzezinski then said, "[T]hey didn't do that, did they?" to which co-host Joe Scarborough replied, "Yeah, they did." Scarborough added: "I remember the people said things over there that made people roll their eyes and say, 'What, was their trip financed by Saddam Hussein?' " Brzezinski then commented, "Oh, well, yeah, it was." She then stated: "Federal prosecutors say that an Iraqi-American man from a Michigan charity secretly set up the visit in exchange for Iraqi oil. He has been charged with working for Iraq's ousted government. The dates of the tour match one taken by Democratic representatives Jim McDermott [WA], [then-Rep.] David Bonior [MI], and Mike Thompson [CA]." However, as reported on the Morning Joe on-screen news ticker, "The Justice Department [told] NBC News it is satisfied the lawmakers believed in good faith the trip was funded by a legitimate charity." During the discussion, which included Brzezinski, Scarborough, and co-host Willie Geist, no one mentioned this reported statement by the Justice Department.

Brzezinski and Scarborough discussed the story again at the beginning of the second and third hours of Morning Joe, but in neither case did they mention the Justice Department's reported statement to NBC News.

At various times during Morning Joe -- including during the third-hour discussion of the story -- the news ticker at the bottom of the screen displayed the following text: "Federal prosecutors say a pre-war trip to Iraq by three Democratic lawmakers was secretly financed by Saddam Hussein's intelligence service * The Justice Department tells NBC News it is satisfied the lawmakers believed in good faith the trip was funded by a legitimate charity."

In contrast to Brzezinski's and Scarborough's comments, a March 27, 1:15 a.m. Associated Press report stated that "Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said investigators 'have no information whatsoever' any of them [McDermott, Bonior, and Thompson] knew the trip was underwritten by Saddam." The AP reported that "[t]he three anti-war Democrats made the trip in October 2002, while the Bush administration was trying to persuade Congress to authorize military action against Iraq. While traveling, they called for a diplomatic solution." The report also stated that "[d]uring the trip, the lawmakers expressed skepticism about the Bush administration's claims that Saddam was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. Though such weapons ultimately were never found, the lawmakers drew criticism for their trip at the time."

From the March 27 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

BRZEZINSKI: A trip made by three U.S. lawmakers to Iraq before the war was secretly financed by -- Saddam Hussein.

SCARBOROUGH: Ouch.

GEIST: Whoops.

BRZEZINSKI: Is that a --

SCARBOROUGH: Ouch. That is bad.

GEIST: That is bad.

BRZEZINSKI: Can you -- they didn't do that, did they?

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, they did. I remember that trip, and I remember --

BRZEZINSKI: You weren't on that, were you?

SCARBOROUGH: No, it wasn't me --

BRZEZINSKI: OK.

SCARBOROUGH: -- but I remember the people said things over there that made people roll their eyes and say, "What, was their trip financed by Saddam Hussein?"

BRZEZINSKI: Oh, well, yeah, it was. So anyhow --

SCARBOROUGH: Now we find out it was.

BRZEZINSKI: Federal prosecutors say an Iraqi-American man from a Michigan charity secretly set up the visit in exchange for Iraqi oil. He has been charged with working for Iraq's ousted government. The dates of the tour match one taken by Democratic Representatives Jim McDermott, David Bonior and Mike Thompson. All righty.

[...]

BRZEZINSKI: A trip made by three U.S. lawmakers to Iraq before the war was apparently secretly financed by Saddam Hussein. OK.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah.

GEIST: That's amazing.

BRZEZINSKI: The dates of the tour match one taken by Democratic representatives Jim McDermott, David Bonior, and Mike Thompson.

SCARBOROUGH: And I remember some people saying when those guys were over there --

BRZEZINSKI: Hmm. Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: -- it sounded like they had been funded by Saddam Hussein. And now we find out actually, it had.

BRZEZINSKI: I think it was an exchange for oil. I -- OK.

[...]

BRZEZINSKI: A trip made by three -- this is interesting -- U.S. lawmakers to Iraq, now, before the war, this trip was taken. Apparently, it was secretly financed by -- Saddam Hussein.

SCARBOROUGH: And I remember that trip, thinking, and a lot of people saying, "Boy, they're talking like this trip was financed by" --

BRZEZINSKI: Saddam Hussein.

SCARBOROUGH: -- "Saddam Hussein."

BRZEZINSKI: Well, apparently it was.

SCARBOROUGH: Wow.

BRZEZINSKI: The dates of the tour match one -- this is what they're looking into -- taken by Democratic representatives Jim McDermott, David Bonior -- we know him -- and Mike Thompson. We'll follow that story.

SCARBOROUGH: Wow.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Person
Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski
Show/Publication
Morning Joe
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