The MSNBC “Morning Joe” panel ate HuffPost‘s Sam Stein for breakfast Wednesday morning, ridiculing him for his site’s entertainment coverage of GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.
Before Stein could speak, each panelist blasted HuffPost’s decision a month ago to not cover Trump as a serious candidate. Instead, the site moved him to their entertainment pages, where he would be placed among the likes of Khloe, Kim and Kourtney Kardashian. Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim called Trump a “clownshow” in an interview with Business Insider.
The “Morning Joe” panel was astounded.
“With all due respect..I think it’s crazy,” said WaPo columnist Gene Robinson, his voice rising into a near-hysterical high pitch. “We can’t dictate what the news is….we have to cover that person. We just have to.”
Mika Brzezinski adamantly agreed. “This reminds me of the Fox debate…it’s like a news organization trying to like control something, and move it along in the direction that they believe is righteous,” she said.
Joe Scarborough chimed in. “You can’t call someone with those poll numbers a side show anymore,” he said.
Scarborough broke up the ridicule to give Stein a chance to speak.
“Sam Stein, you care to defend your institution?” he said, erupting into laughter.
Stein’s excuses were eloquent but flimsy. He insisted that calling someone an “entertainer” is not pejorative. So equating a presidential contender with Kim Kardashian — a woman who makes news with the size of her butt — isn’t pejorative?
What Stein said did not sound anything like the basic tenets of journalism.
“Let’s step back for a second [insert Scarborough guffaw here] and let’s look at this as meta commentary,” he began. “We are living in a world — I don’t think this is disputable at all — that is vastly different than it was awhile ago … Where party bosses don’t pick a presidential candidate but we have emergence of politics and entertainment. It’s just a fact … And Donald Trump is better at it than anyone we’ve ever had before. And that doesn’t mean it’s pejorative to call him an entertainer. .. He sees himself as an entertainer who’s in politics. …This is us acknowledging that we live in political system in which entertainment is very good.”
In a formal statement released in mid-July, HuffPost announced, “Our reason is simple: Trump’s campaign is a sideshow,” they wrote. “We won’t take the bait. If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you’ll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.”
Scarborough grew serious. “I love Arianna, but this is Arianna and Donald Trump fighting each other is what it is and it needs to change. It needs to change pretty soon because Donald Trump is not a sideshow. Donald Trump is in first place.”
To be sure, HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington has good reason to despise Trump.