Morning Joe Criticizes Fox News For Mocking Donald Trump And Defends Trump's Debate Boycott
Guests Mark Halperin And Eugene Robinson Call Fox's Statement "A Big Mistake Journalistically And Tactically" And "Ill-Advised"
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From the January 27 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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JOE SCARBOROUGH (HOST): So Mark Halperin, let me ask you. You sat patiently for three and a half hours listening to us talk about Donald Trump. I know you have to go on your show in about five minutes, but what's your take on Trump and Fox?
MARK HALPERIN: Look, like you guys and Willie said, I'm a student of the Fox provocative statements over the years. I can't imagine a news organization hosting a debate gratuitously insulting one of the people they want to have participate. They should let their work speak for themselves. They get to pick who the moderators are. The candidates can decide whether they want to come, but I think they made a big mistake journalistically and tactically putting out that statement. I think Donald Trump is totally entitled to say, "I'm not going to come be in a debate where people are going to fight with me." I think he'll dominate the news for three days. I think he's ahead probably in Iowa right now and Ted Cruz is going to have to figure out if the negative television ads and the taunting of Trump are enough to win this caucuses because Trump is on precipice of winning Iowa and winning New Hampshire unless something changes. And I think he's showing -- I think he's showing strength doing this and that's his brand.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI (HOST): That's the deal right there. He's on the precipice of potentially, Joe, using this to raise just as much money as the network would have made having him for Wounded Warriors, which would make a huge story.
SCARBOROUGH: Raise it for Wounded Warriors. And really, the provocation here, and, you know, I'll just say it, so Ron Fournier and other people saying that Donald was a coward for not wanting to confront Megyn Kelly. There's no way any news organization that Ron Fournier worked for would ever taunt a candidate and troll a candidate and then expect that candidate to show up. Now, Gene Robinson, The Washington Post would never do that. And as I said, if I were running in a race, and a news organization put out a -- I would turn to people telling me to go to that debate and say, "I would rather lose, I would rather set myself on fire, I would rather jump off a cliff than give them" --
BRZEZINSKI: Or in Trump's case, raise money for Wounded Warriors.
SCARBOROUGH: And I will tell you, Trump feels the same way. He would rather lose this election than be taunted by a news organization that's claiming they're going to be fair, which is just ridiculous on its face.
EUGENE ROBINSON: Well look I don't know of another news organization that would put out a statement like that and I think Trump -- there's genuine -- he was genuinely affronted by it, perhaps, but he also saw an opportunity. He is dominating the news cycle. The story is all about Donald Trump. He -- by not going to the debate, denies Ted Cruz the opportunity for a mano-a-mano with him on the debate stage, which is kind of the way I think people would have looked at it a few days before Iowa. So I see no downside in this for Donald Trump and we'll see what Fox's ratings are and how its reputation comes out. I think Roger Ailes is in kind of an awkward position of feeling he has to defend his anchor, but at the same time, that was an ill-advised statement.
SCARBOROUGH: Mike, like ten years from now there will be truthers here that actually believe that Roger Ailes and Donald Trump planned this. Because -- I mean this. Donald Trump could not have planned anything that played to his favor more than what has happened over the past 12 hours.
MIKE BARNICLE: Probably not 10 years, probably 10 minutes from now, because if you go to a Donald Trump rally and you talk to his core constituency, you get three things. Why do you like him? "He's strong, he's independent, he doesn't need anybody."
SCARBOROUGH: He doesn't put up with BS.
BARNICLE: Fox just played right into each one of those issues.
WILLIE GEIST (HOST): Yeah. Again, I don't think there's any way to look at this as a bad thing for Donald Trump in terms of this race, as Mark Halperin said. He becomes the story now for a couple more days and whatever he does on Thursday night will completely swamp what's happening on that stage in terms of media coverage. I still say though, I'm just going to leave one little opening here -- I grew up in the '80s as a student of professional wrestling and I know how you build up to a big fight and there's trash talk and I'm not going to show up and I'm not going to do that and --
BRZEZINSKI: Oh yeah, and then they show up. And there's rapprochement.
GEIST: And then somebody shows up in the end and more people watch.