October 3, 2013
Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough (Vicky Pombo)
Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough at the the Kuwait-America Foundation dinner in March 2011. (Vicky Pombo)

First in a multi-part series.

Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” was pleased. A crowd had filed into the Grand Ballroom of the Mayflower Hotel on May 9 to hear her speak about her new book, “Obsessed: America’s Food Addiction — and My Own.” The event, sponsored by Bank of America, was an offshoot of “Playbook,” Politico’s agenda-setting morning newsletter written by the newspaper’s energetic Chief White House Correspondent Mike Allen.

Gazing at the people, Brzezinski marveled, “I can’t believe we’re having a Politico event and we’re talking about body image and food and fat, but, actually, it’s an important issue and epidemic on both sides of the political spectrum,” she said, in a moment captured by Politico’s video team. “I kinda can’t believe this crowd. . . . I can’t believe it. There’s people in the rafters.”

Sure there were! “Playbook” impresario Mike Allen, after all, had plugged the event aggressively in his well-circulated newsletter, with the customary all-caps treatment. One of the pitches started this way: “YOU’RE INVITED — PLAYBOOK COCKTAILS with JOE and MIKA.” Allen’s assistance did not end with encouraging folks to attend. In front of the Mayflower crowd, he said of Brzezinski’s opus: “There are at least two things in this book that’ll change your life.”

Props of that sort come from the deepest of reservoirs. In September, Allen reprised his role as literary booster for “Morning Joe.” This time the blurb helped out the show’s other co-host:

EXCLUSIVE – JOE SCARBOROUGH ON HOW THE GOP CAN WIN IN 2016: The “Morning Joe” host’s new book, “The Right Path: From Ike to Reagan, How Republicans Once Mastered Politics–and Can Again,” will be published Nov. 12 by Random House, and is edited by JON MEACHAM. The buzz among GOP insiders is that “The Right Path” has the potential to galvanize conservatives in the way Barry Goldwater’s “Conscience of a Conservative” did half a century ago — especially conservatives ready to return to the winning ways of Ronald Reagan, who is on the cover, shown striding down the White House colonnade.

Mike Allen, already “one of Washington’s top journalists,” is vying for honors as one of Washington’s top PR operatives. The log-rolling here breaks down into thirds:

• How much talk/gossip/Twitter traffic counts as “buzz”?

•  Who are these GOP insiders, and why can they not be quoted on this great upcoming book?

• The book’s release date is Nov. 12; the publisher told the Erik Wemple Blog that finished books would be ready on Oct. 12; the “Playbook” item came out on Sept. 13. On what basis could these “GOP insiders” decide that it was a history-pivoting work of literature?

Allen didn’t respond to a question about his sourcing, but his contention has raised eyebrows elsewhere:

Two books, two “Morning Joe” co-hosts, two acts of flackdom from Allen. No surprise whatsoever.

Next: Why “Morning Joe” is so important for Politico.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.