Dan Kennedy has a thoughtful piece, Holding A President To Account In An Age Of Extreme Polarization, on the shift toward a public not only skeptical of the traditional media but one malnourished by Breitbart and Fox News. Consumers of those outlets are virtually impervious to facts. But on a day when it might otherwise be lost in the fake-news-except-it-was-leaked-by-the-president Russia story let me turn to some evidence of why the public should be skeptical: those lovebirds of deception, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.
Here is a report in the New York Times of the hosts recounting Kellyanne Conway’s reaction after defending candidate Donald Trump during the campaign, titled ‘Morning Joe’ Hosts: Conway Said She Needed a Shower After Speaking for Trump:
“She would get off the air, the camera would be turned off, the microphone would be taken off, and she would say ‘Blech, I need to take a shower,’ because she disliked her candidate so much,” Ms. Brzezinski said of Ms. Conway.
Joe Scarborough, Ms. Brzezinski’s co-host and fiancé, echoed the statements, saying that Ms. Conway said after being interviewed that she had only taken the job for money and that she would soon be done defending Mr. Trump.
“ ‘But first I have to take a shower, because it feels so dirty to be saying what I’m saying,’ ” Ms. Brzezinski added, mocking what the hosts said was Ms. Conway’s attitude at the time. “I guess she’s just used to it now.”
I don’t know all the rules of engagement of such appearances but I suppose Ms. Conway’s comments weren’t confidential since they were revealed on Monday. Or was there a time limit on the confidentiality?
Because if the remarks weren’t confidential, it would seem to me that back during the campaign, a journalist might return to the air and say something to viewers like “Folks, what you just heard from Mr. Trump’s spokesperson was a bunch of hooey. Just now in front of Mika and me she said "‘But first I have to take a shower, because it feels so dirty to be saying what I’m saying.’ ”
That would seem like a relevant journalistic fact to me. Maybe I’m wrong. It would certainly be of interest to the public.
My suspicion is that the Conway episode discussed by Mr. Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on Monday reflects the entertainment nature of television programming. Maybe it would be impolite or out of bounds to report the actual truth of Ms. Conway’s regard for Trump. That Mr. Scarborough and Ms. Ms. Brzezinski freely discussed this on Monday seems an acknowledgement that it wasn’t confidential and we should all be in on the joke.
Writing about our present circumstances in which the Breitbart-reading and Fox-watching population rejects basic facts and the rest of us are wary, Professor Kennedy wrote this:
The last time we found ourselves in this position, the press was, for the most part, a trusted voice, even if it did not always earn that trust. This time we are regarded with skepticism by one side and with loathing and contempt by the other.
Small wonder for the skepticism. Joe and Mika, back to you.