‘Morning Joe’ and me …

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Joe Scarborough’s absence from “Morning Joe” Wednesday highlighted just how important he really is (as I’ve noted before, he is underrated by conservatives). Without Scarborough on the set, the show skewed so far to the left — both philosophically and culturally — that it reminded me of Pauline Kael’s supposed line about not knowing anyone who voted for Richard Nixon.

Frustrated — and yelling back at the TV — I did something Wednesday morning which is usually a very stupid move: Before downing my requisite Starbucks coffee, I voiced my displeasure on Twitter in a series of tweets.

Much to my surprise, it caught the attention of co-host Willie Geist, who read some of the tweets on the show, conceding that my criticism was, in fact, “not an unfair critique.”

Something you should know: Geist is a great guy — as funny and as kind in person as he is on TV. I would actually say the same thing about everyone on the show — they have always been gracious and welcoming.

Still, I was surprised by the positive reaction.

Big TV people tend to have big egos. Most do not tolerate — let alone encourage — even constructive criticism. Most shows would have simply banished me to Siberia, vowing that I would never darken the doors of their studios again (trust me, it happens). It is a testament to “Morning Joe” that they welcomed such dissent. You should respect that — even if you disagree with their politics.

And so, I was on this morning to discuss Newt Gingrich’s having consulted for Freddie Mac. You can watch it here. (The interview was a bit contentious — but that’s par for the course):

My comments seemed to drive the debate for a bit, even prompting “Meet The Press” host David Gregory to say he disagreed with me, “politically, tactically, and substantively.”

Note: Though I respect the former Speaker, I’m certainly not a Gingrich apologist. I broke the story about half of his campaign debt coming from chartering private planes. And I criticized him for his apparent flip-flop on a Libyan “no-fly” zone. Clearly, I’m not opposed to criticizing or vetting any of the candidates — including Gingrich.

Having said that, as I’ve written, the recent stories about Gingrich’s consulting fees have been overblown. What is more, the notion (being propagated by some in the mainstream media) that this current field of GOP primary candidates is somehow more gaffe-prone or “embarrassing” than previous primary fields is simply inaccurate.

Time will tell if I’m right that this story is just a “blip,” or not. I’ve been wrong before and will be again. Either way, kudos to “Morning Joe” for having me on. And yes, I do think the viewing public benefited from hearing my side of things this morning. I’m happy to come back on any time they will have me.

Matt K. Lewis