Ok, look, there’ve been a lot of fainting couches brought into newsrooms over what the president may or may not have said about certain countries being less than wonderful in his estimation. And I’ll reiterate, his choice of words — if they were what Sens. Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham say they were — were thoughtless, crass and less than productive (although outright “racist” seems a bit of a stretch for a lot of reasons). And we can debate whether the president has a lot to learn about holding his tongue when there’s a Dick Durbin in the room, and whether running to the press with what the president said was also less than productive.
But this clip from “Morning Joe”, in which Mika and Joe condescendingly go after Department of Homeland Security head Kirstjen (“Kirstjen with a silent ‘j’,” says Mika, inexplicably) Nielsen for saying she didn’t hear Trump use the language he reportedly used is an exercise in watching two people express discomfort with the behavior they engage in almost daily.
Mika’s need for smelling salts is almost too funny to watch. I would suspect she knows a little bit about dancing around information to protect a powerful man because promises may have been made. Ahem.
BRZEZINSKI: “I mean, what was she –”
SCARBOROUGH: “Well –”
BRZEZINSKI: “– what was the careful little dance there? Was that — was Trump promising her something? Did Trump make her take an oath? Did he scare her?”
SCARBOROUGH: “Well, what this is about Mika —”
BRZEZINSKI: “And where does –”
SCARBOROUGH: “Mika –”
BRZEZINSKI: “– her responsibility to this country stand with her testifying under oath yesterday, dancing around the truth for Trump? What did you just do, madam secretary, with your reputation and the trust that we’re supposed to have in you as the secretary of homeland security? Because I think she did immeasurable damage.”
This is not suggest that Nielsen is doing the same dance, mind you. It’s perfectly legitimate to not have heard exactly what was said and offer testimony to that extent. People can decide on their own if Nielsen is believable based on her testimony.
But Mika and Joe — who, remember, haven’t had quite as much disdain for the president in the past — are determined to convince the world that Nielsen is a liar and will do anything to cover for her powerful boss.
It’s easy to infer that this media power/real-life couple might be experts on what that behavior looks like given the — um — trajectory of their relationship and their own “willing[ness] to compromise to be close to power.” But I think it does a disservice to Nielsen to infer that. Instead, my guess is Mika and Joe need people to be as power hungry, obsequious, cynical, and as willing to fudge the truth as they have been in their own personal lives and careers. And so they see it even if it might not be there.
Misery loves company, I guess.