The Washington Post

Joe Biden goes into action for TV producer battling a brain hemorrhage

Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, right, visiting their hospitalized “Morning Joe” producer Chris Licht on their way to last year’s White House Correspondents' dinner. (Courtesy of MSNBC)

Newsflash: It helps to know the right people.

In a forthcoming book, “What I Learned When I Almost Died,” MSNBC producer Chris Licht tells the story of his near-fatal brain hemorrhage, which struck abruptly in April 2010 while on assignment in D.C. He recovered, and weeks later appeared on his MSNBC show “Morning Joe” to salute the staff at George Washington University Hospital for saving his life.

Now in the book, he describes some interesting behind-the-scenes machinations: As ER doctors puzzled over the source of his bleed, his worried “Morning Joe” star Mika Brzezinski started making phone calls — to hospital brass. . . and to Joe Biden.

The vice president — himself a survivor of an aneurysm — agreed to help. According to the book, Biden cold-called Dr. Vivek Deshmukh, a highly recommended neurosurgeon in town whom the veep had never met: “I have a good friend in your ER,” he asked (though Licht admits he’d never met Biden, either, at that point), “and could you make time to see him?” Within minutes, Deshmukh was examining Licht’s CAT scans.

So that’s how it works, huh? Licht (whose book is due out May 24 from Simon & Schuster; we peeked at an advance copy) writes that as he was wheeled in for an angiogram, he noticed a flurry of activity, and a staffer pointing at him and mouthing, “Biden.” But he acknowledges on a subsequent page that the hospital “probably would have reacted to my case in precisely the same way even if Biden had never gotten involved.” A GW rep told us that the hospital had “already reached out to Dr. Deshmukh,” separate from Biden’s call.

Brzezinski explained to us why she went to the top for help. “It wasn’t really that he was the vice president — it was that he had survived an aneurysm,” she said. “Can you think of many people who’ve survived a massive brain aneurysm?. . . I was calling him as Mika, he was helping me as Joe.” Now promoting her own book — a take-charge-and-make-things-happen-for-yourself manifesto, “Knowing Your Value” — the anchor said she just went into her natural mode that day. “Chris will tell you: I fix things.”


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