The panelists of MSNBC's Morning Joe blasted CNN Thursday for putting on a Republican debate that was too focused in questioning and camerawork on celebrity frontrunner Donald Trump, with host Joe Scarborough calling it a "full-on obsession."
The show opened with a montage of Jake Tapper asking various questions about Trump to various candidates, and Scarborough snapped, "And so the night went."
"It was the Trump debate," co-host Mika Brzezinski said.
"Last night was three hours of asking Donald Trump questions," Scarborough said. "Asking other candidates what they thought about Donald Trump, and then when other candidates answered what they thought about Donald Trump, showing a split-screen with Donald Trump … It was just non-stop Donald Trump, and I'm sorry, I'm a member of a party that has 15, 16, 17 candidates. I would like to have actually seen the other candidates instead of people throwing quotes around trying to start a schoolyard brawl. It was not a serious debate."
Scarborough said Govs. John Kasich, Mike Huckabee and Scott Walker hardly got a chance to talk.
"There were at least five of those candidates who might has well have boarded Air Force One in the background and taken off," panelist Mike Barnicle said.
"And just eaten peanuts and then come out," Scarborough said. "I swear to God, I would have, after about 45 minutes, I would have come out and said, ‘Hey, when you guys are finished obsessing over Trump, I'll be in the plane' … It was a full-on obsession with Donald Trump. They did a disservice to anybody that was watching that."
Fellow co-host Willie Geist said he admired Tapper, but he said it was clear that CNN was more focused on putting on a television program than a substantive debate.
"I'm an unapologetic fan of Jake Tapper," Geist said. "I think he's one of the best in the business. I think CNN, though, was trying to put on a TV show and the star of that TV show was Donald Trump, and they were going to make sure he was involved directly or indirectly in almost every question."