Image Credit: ROB KIM VIA GETTY IMAGES
UNITED STATES — One of the big stories this weekend was that involving Joe Scarborough, who hosts a television show on MSNBC and recently had two off-the-record private meetings with President-Elect Trump. One of these meetings was on New Year’s Eve and occurred during a party hosted by the president-elect at his Florida resort.
Despite the fact that Scarborough was at the party itself for a very short time, he has been vilified throughout the country for supposedly partying with the incoming president, when in reality, he did no such thing.
His first meeting with the President-Elect came early in the week when they had an off-the-record conversation over dinner. There, they discussed numerous topics, including Mexico, Cabinet picks, and NAFTA. According to an opinion piece Scarborough wrote for the Washington Post, this was a fairly similar discussion to one that he had with President Obama, with the only difference being that his conversation with Obama was on deep background, meaning that what was said could be used in his work, just without direct attribution to the source.
According to an opinion piece Scarborough wrote for the Washington Post, this was a fairly similar discussion to one that he had with President Obama, with the only difference being that his conversation with Obama was on deep background, meaning that what was said could be used in his work, just without direct attribution to the source.
His second meeting occurred on New Year’s Eve and happened because his co-host, Mika Brzezinski, was unable to attend the first meeting. According to Scarborough, “We walked through the metal detectors and straight into the start of a black-tie function where we were dramatically underdressed. At 7:30 p.m., Mika and I were guided by security through a sea of tuxedos and evening gowns, were introduced to a 10-year-old boy by PEOTUS, and quickly made our way upstairs. The topic for Sunday night’s discussion was intended to involve an interview we wanted to conduct before the inauguration, but personal topics came up, as they do in many such meetings we have with public officials. Mika and I have known Trump for more than a decade, so we caught up on each other’s families and we asked how his son was adapting to the big changes happening all around him.”
This conversation in itself is fair game, as it isn’t uncommon for media members to have social relationships with subjects. They knew each other well before Trump announced his candidacy for President, and it isn’t journalistic malpractice for them to continue to have casual conversations about each other’s personal lives, especially when it comes at a regularly scheduled meeting.
For these reasons, the personal attacks on Mr. Scarborough are warrantless. There wasn’t this backlash when he did a similar meeting with President Obama, which sets a standard that should be enforced for future presidents. A lot of times, an off-the-record conversation, or even one on deep background, is the only way for a journalist to gain information from a source, information that then needs to be corroborated by other sources in order to be able to be used in their work.