Rock musician Ben Folds was performing on the roof of New York City’s Pier 17 Thursday when he asked the audience to help him out with a new song. “What I want to do is put a little cool stutter in it, like, you know, 'My-my-my-my-my-my Sharona,’ " the former Ben Folds Five frontman said. “So what we’ll do is, we’ll go: Mah-mah-mah-Moscow Mitch.”

The song is mostly instrumental, as heard in YouTube clips of Folds’s performance, and borrows a nickname that reportedly angers Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

McConnell, who has been criticized for blocking an election security bill, alluded to the moniker (and an opinion column by The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank) in a speech Monday on the Senate floor.

"Over the last several days, I was called unpatriotic, un-American and, essentially, treasonous by a couple of left-wing pundits on the basis of boldfaced lies,” McConnell said. “I was accused of ‘aiding and abetting’ the very man I’ve singled out as our adversary and opposed for nearly 20 years: Vladimir Putin.”

Kentucky Democrats have been selling merchandise carrying the “Moscow Mitch” label — including buttons, stickers and red T-shirts that depict the Senate majority leader in a Cossack hat and include the phrase “Just say Nyet to Moscow Mitch.” As the Associated Press noted, Democrats from McConnell’s home state credit a retired teacher with coining the term.

But as Folds’s McConnell-inspired tune made the rounds Friday morning, MSNBC tweeted that the nickname was started by one of its hosts: former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough. In an accompanying clip from Friday’s episode of “Morning Joe,” Folds asks Scarborough if he coined the term. “You know, I actually did, yes, I did,” Scarborough says with a smile.

Scarborough’s co-host Mika Brzezinski noted that Scarborough had interviewed Folds on Thursday, prompting their “Moscow Mitch” exchange. She said the show would air the rest of the “music and politics”-focused interview “in the coming days.”

Scarborough called McConnell “Moscow Mitch” last week in a heated moment on the MSNBC show. “He is aiding and abetting Vladimir Putin’s ongoing attempts to subvert American democracy,” Scarborough said, noting that several Republican-led agencies — including the FBI and CIA — “are all saying Russia is subverting American democracy.”

After the “Morning Joe” segment, #MoscowMitch began trending on Twitter, where McConnell’s campaign later used the term while lashing out at the MSNBC host. “The Democrats’ Russian conspiracy theories against President Trump hit a dead end during the Mueller hearing,” McConnell’s team wrote. “So now, like a failed doomsday cult that predicted the end of the world, the liberal grifters need a fresh target: Mitch.”

The Washington Post Magazine asked Ben Folds to write a song about anything. He chose Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. (Erin Patrick O'Connor/The Washington Post)

“It started with MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough calling me #MoscowMitch,” the thread continued. “Then the Resistance piled on.”

“Moscow Mitch” isn’t the first politics-inspired song from Folds. Last year the rocker penned “Mister Peepers,” a song inspired by then-Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, for a Washington Post Magazine project.

Read more: