Longtime readers of Spoiler Alerts might be growing fatigued at the hardworking staff’s increased focus on Donald Trump as we approach Election Day. And, in the spirit of full disclosure, the staff is right there with you. I was all set to take a break from Trump and intervene in the brutal Cargo Shorts Wars that are occupying certain parts of the Internet.
But as I was drinking my morning coffee, this passed over the transom:
So, nothing to see here, just a story confirming that Donald Trump does not comprehend the basics of nuclear deterrence and the importance of the taboo against the use of those weapons. Move along.
More seriously, at the risk of stepping on the toes of my colleagues Erik Wemple and Margaret Sullivan, that particular exchange prompts a whole bunch of questions that I would like to ask MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. In order:
1) Exactly when did you find out about this information? You say in the clip that it happened several months ago — were you sitting on it for all this time? Did you just learn about it? This matters because this is the kind of anecdote that I would be screaming from the rooftops. We’re deciding the leader of the free world in November, and this kind of appalling ignorance is worth highlighting. Just dropping this bomb casually during a televised conversation seems odd.
2) Was this conversation with your source off the record? Your hesitancy in even discussing this information, and your statement that you need to be “careful,” suggest that something prevented you from just blurting out this super-scary anecdote. Was it because the conversation with the expert was off the record? Were you concerned about outing your source? I get it, like me, you’re not really a journalist. The thing is, you are doing and saying things in a journalistic capacity, so the rules do matter. Still, if you learned about this, did you do everything in your power to get your source to go on the record?
3) Who was the expert?! As Spoiler Alerts has frequently noted, Trump’s foreign policy team runs the gamut from incompetent to nonexistent. At the beginning of the clip, former CIA director Michael Hayden confirms that none of his peers is talking to Trump. So just who was the foreign policy expert who talked to him? Logically, the set of foreign policy experts who talk to both Trump and Scarborough can’t be that large, so I suspect that this information will be puzzled out pretty soon.
4) How do you feel about your show’s take on Trump in 2015? I know that you and The Donald have had a falling out as of late, but a case can be made that you were one of the chief enablers of Trump’s campaign in the fall of 2015 — to the point where you had to deny any official relationship with him on air. In the cold light of the 2016 general election, do you regret any of that at all?
Given Spoiler Alert’s past kerfuffles with “Morning Joe,” the hard-working staff here is not expecting an answer. But I do hope the press corps asks Scarborough some tough follow-up questions. Anecdotes like this are pertinent information as Election Day approaches.