The hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” did the usual day-after Thanksgiving kibitzing on the air on Friday morning, telling viewers about their turkey dinners and mentioning the big football game the night before.
One problem: None of those things had actually happened at the time Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Co. started talking about them. The program that aired Friday morning was taped Wednesday, but made to look and sound as if it was airing live.
“Morning Joe” airs live on MSNBC five days a week. It features discussions of breaking or very recent news events.
Friday’s program had all the earmarks of a typical “Morning Joe” and few viewers seemed to notice that it wasn’t happening in real time. MSNBC offered no announcement or statement to viewers that it was a taped program. The only indirect clue was at the bottom of the screen: The “Live” graphic that normally appears was removed.
The rest was cooked up to appear as if it was happening in real time.
Brzezinski opened the program by saying, “Day after Thanksgiving! Hoo! I’m stuffed.”
The second segment picked up the after-holiday theme.
“I always cook the turkey with the guts in it!” Brzezinski said.
“Joe didn’t notice. He ate the bag,” quipped co-host Willie Geist, pretending Scarborough had consumed Brzezinski’s theoretical turkey.
“It was good!” Scarborough said. He added, “Well, you know, the game made up for it . . .”
Scarborough then turned to Rick Tyler, an MSNBC contributor who was Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign spokesman. “How was your Thanksgiving?” he asked.
“Very successful,” responded Tyler. “Although the conversations were interesting.”
“I bet!” said Brzezinski.
The panel then swung into a discussion of the pedophile controversy surrounding Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
The illusion that the discussion was live was fostered by the news crawl at the bottom of the screen, which was added over the taped discussion, and a clock showing the time in various time zones.
The hosts never got around to talking about Friday morning’s biggest story, the deadly terrorist attack on a mosque in Egypt — because it hadn’t happened yet when they taped. The crawl mentioned it.
An MSNBC spokeswoman declined to comment. But an executive confirmed that the program wasn’t live. “There was no intention to trick viewers,” she said. “Would it have helped if there was a disclaimer” referencing it as a delayed broadcast? “Maybe. But that’s not typically done.”
As is, she said, “They’re having fun” with the pretense that it’s live.
A longtime viewer of the program noticed that Friday’s edition had none of the usual discussion of breaking news and contacted The Washington Post to inquire if “Morning Joe” was presenting “fake news.” He said he was surprised to see Scarborough and Brzezinski appearing in a New York studio on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
“I was quite flabbergasted by the way they were so deceptive about this . . . especially when they are always so quick to castigate lying [or] deception they attribute to others,” said the viewer, who asked not to be identified.
Scarborough and Brzezinski have engaged in a long-running feud with President Trump over many issues, including the president’s veracity. The hostilities seemed to crest in June when Trump attacked the couple in an early-morning tweet in which he criticized Brzezinski’s appearance.