MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” shook the media world on Tuesday with a tense and never-ending interview with Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump. The session came after Trump’s call for a “shutdown” barring Muslims from entering into the United States. Name partner Joe Scarborough grew so frustrated with Trump’s filibustering ways that he cut to a commercial break rather than continue listening to the real-estate mogul.
Yesterday the Erik Wemple Blog spent hours watching and re-watching all the very many interviews that the “Morning Joe” crew has done with Trump. There are some themes to this ouevre: Trump is often on the phone; some decent, journalistic questions get lobbed at Trump, often by Willie Geist; Trump makes more claims than the crew can possibly fact-check; and there’s a great deal of talk about polls. But the central theme is bonhomie.
Ever since mid-June, “Morning Joe” has had a blast yukking it up with Donald Trump. The laughs, giggles and chuckles come when Trump tells a joke; they come when he makes an outlandish claim; they come when he introduces himself to the program over the phone, “Good morning, darling”; they come when the topic is one of his competitors or when the topic is a man in Trump’s company who is making a valiant attempt to learn English but hasn’t yet reached the level of “Ernest Hemingway” or when the topic is Trump’s “vision.”
They come a bit too frequently. Certainly any proper TV news show encourages moments of levity. That’s fine. Yet “Morning Joe” approach to Trump — too much fun, too much exposure — has steered what could journalism into the friendly confines of a morning social club.