During a promotional stop on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” for his new movie, Rob Reiner got into a heated debate with hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski about the media’s role and responsibility in covering Donald Trump’s run for office and the role of journalists in holding the GOP presumptive nominee accountable for his policies.
“Since the late 60s, when ’60 Minutes’ became a hit, all of sudden networks realized there was a profit center in news,” Reiner said, telling the hosts that their morning politics show was exactly that, more show for the ratings than news. Reiner castigated reporters for not holding Trump responsible for his stance on abortion, his plan to deport undocumented immigrants and his blanket ban on Muslims from entering the country.
“The words that have been flung out from his mouth are insane. If Donald Trump was not a celebrity, the words that come out of his mouth… you’d see a lunatic on a soap box in a park and you’d walk right by him,” Reiner exclaimed.
Taking a defensive tone, Scarborough and Brzezinski retorted that they have, in fact asked Trump the tough questions, but he refused to answer. “You act like you have some special sauce that you think we’re not adding to this equation,” Brzezinski responded, raising her voice in indignation, adding, “maybe I should stick my heel down his throat and tell him he’s not answering the question, would that make you feel good?”
The rest of the clip gets uncomfortable to watch as the hosts mock and gang up on Reiner when he points out how many of Trump’s supporters are members of racist organizations. “Did you just say that?” an incredulous Scarborough exclaimed.
Scarborough and Brzezinski were probably sensitive to Reiner’s accusations because they have been criticized for going easy on Trump during interviews. In February, a hot mic caught Trump suggesting the two not ask tough questions during a commercial break at a town hall interview in South Carolina. “Just make us all look good,” Trump said, to which Scarborough responds, “Exactly.” At another point in the recording Trump says, “Nothing too hard, Mika,” to which Brzezinski replies, “Okay.”
Just last weekend, comedian Larry Wilmore joked at the hosts’ expense during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, saying “‘Morning Joe’ has their head so far up Trump’s ass they bump into Chris Christie.”