It’s been 10 days since The Daily Caller‘s Mirror blog broke the story of MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough‘s lucrative sideline as a speech giver to corporate America and the potential conflicts of interest that might entail, and still no comment from either Joe or the network he works for.
It’s not like they’re unaware of it. A well-placed source at the network says it’s commonly believed at MSNBC, as well as at parent company Comcast, that Joe pockets the money from his many speeches to for-profit businesses, something he’s expressly forbidden to do. That rule has been in place at the network since 1996 to prevent obvious conflicts of interest.
Network executives reportedly are deeply concerned — bordering on panicked — about how to explain Joe’s speeches. So far the plan seems to be: let’s ignore the whole thing and hope it goes away. But it’s clear the controversy is taking a toll on Joe.
You could tell on his show this morning, when Joe explained, apparently with dead seriousness, that after being criticized on the internet, he now understands what it’s like to be president of the United States. Here’s a selection from the transcript, in case you missed the Nixonian meltdown live:
“I used to hear about George Bush about watching baseball and watching Sports Center at night and roll my eyes, going, ‘boy, do we really need a president that does that?’ And now you hear Barack does the same thing, and he golfs. The answer is, I think, yes. Because with the red hot glare of the media today, and with the incoming 24 hours a day, online, on radio, on TV, you’ve gotta have somebody that can get away from it. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve gotta say, 20 years into being a public figure..20 years in (laugh), I’ve gotten to the point on my small, small, small level [that I] totally disconnect. If somebody thinks they’re going to upset me by something they write online or on Twitter or something like that [HERE THE TRANSCRIPT NOTES THAT JOE CLICKED HIS TONGUE] they’ve got another thing coming. You’ve got to disconnect. When you’re president, you really, really have to be able to disconnect or not listen to the voices. …Certainly made me a lot more sympathetic, not only to President Barack Obama but to anybody that sits in there.”
Sounds like Joe has been listening to the voices. On the other hand, a guy who, according to his divorce records, makes $99,000 a week ought to be able to find something to distract him. Good luck, Joe.