Joe Scarborough, the host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, said that he regrets hosting Donald Trump so often ahead of the 2016 election, during an episode The Realignment podcast released on Tuesday.
Trump made frequent appearances on Morning Joe before the election, including an interview two days after announcing his candidacy in June 2015, but the show’s hosts took to attacking the president harshly on an almost daily basis once he won the Republican primary and continued that treatment during his time in office. The abrupt change in tone invited speculation that MSNBC was happy to use Trump for ratings when they didn’t perceive him as a serious political contender.
While Scarborough stressed that he frequently pushed back on Trump in the run-up to the election, the Morning Joe host said he wished the candidate had appeared fewer times on the show.
“Do I wish we didn’t have him on 30, 40 times? You know what, if I were running Germany today from 1932 to 1934, yeah, I wouldn’t want Hitler to be on 35 times,” Scarborough told hosts Saagar Enjeti and Marshall Kosloff. “Looking back…I wish it hadn’t happened.”
The relationship between Trump and Scarborough subsequently soured after the candidate’s calls to register Muslims in a database and his favorable comments toward Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Trump mocked the appearance of Scarborough’s co-host Mika Brzezinski, writing on Twitter in 2017 that “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” during a previous New Year’s Eve gathering at Mar-a-Lago. The attack drew condemnation from Senate Republicans and was held up by commentators as an example of the kind of rhetoric that so repelled suburban women.
In summer of 2020, the president resurrected a baseless conspiracy theory alleging that Scarborough murdered a former intern.
“The guy was attacking me. Throughout 2016, I was attacking him,” Scarborough said. “There’s no doubt we had him on a lot.” However, according to Scarborough the show’s policy towards candidates was, “if you’re running for office and you want to call in, call in, we’ll take your call anytime. Jeb wouldn’t do it. Hillary wouldn’t do it. We couldn’t get Hillary on the show ever.”