Tortured Joe

June 27, 2016

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough is a torn and tortured man.

From months of Donald Trump boosting to the now self-assigned position as No. 1 critic of the presumptive nominee, the last year has been a roller coaster ride for the host of cable news' most-watched morning show not named Fox & Friends.

As Scarborough is fond of reminding viewers over and over and over again, he and co-host Mika Brzezinski had a sense Trump's candidacy wouldn't be something to take lightly when it began last June. They have often boasted about having "called it," as in Trump's nomination.

And it certainly seemed that some confirmation bias was in the making, as Scarborough and Brzezinski were strangely soft on a candidate so ripe for critiques.

As Trump began his romp through the Republican primary, he enjoyed long, wide-ranging phone-ins to Morning Joe, in addition to a friendly MSNBC town hall and free debate advice from Scarborough. Scarborough touted his "laser" ability to tackle opponents, said he had confidence in Trump's smarts to fix the economy, and gushed that his plane landing in Iowa was akin to the Pope arriving with a Middle East peace treaty.

"We all love you and we all want to ask you questions," Scarborough said to Trump during one phone interview.

Scarborough also wrote on Facebook about his brother, a strong Trump supporter, getting to climb aboard the Republican candidate's private plane.

Trump even referred to Scarborough and Brzezinski as "supporters" the morning after his New Hampshire victory in February, a rout that had Scarborough crowing Trump "often talks about being a winner, but last night he proved it in the biggest way possible."

A hot mic at the town hall caught the trio chatting amiably, casting more suspicion on what was already making network insiders uncomfortable: Scarborough and Trump were too close.

In response to the mounting criticism, Scarborough became angry on several occasions, snapping that critics were envious of his prescience and mistaking his astute analysis for pro-Trump bias.

However, a switch has been flipped now that Trump has locked up the nomination. The billionaire's racially charged remarks about the judge in the Trump University case sent Scarborough over the edge. He raged that Trump was acting like a bush-league bigot and loser, called him "completely racist," and said his campaign was a "complete embarrassment."

While he's insisted, and the tape does back him up, that he said even back in friendlier times he would not endorse Trump because of his proposed Muslim ban, the change in the tone of his coverage is unmistakable.

It would appear he's pressing hard to make folks forget that his Beltway favorite MSNBC show provided a legitimate media launching pad for a candidate he now accuses of destroying the Republican Party.

Of course, Scarborough is in great shape either way. Hillary Clinton, who he reminds viewers constantly he's very fond of, will surely be the president if his former friend Trump won't be.