If you want to see a former Republican and his wife plumb the depths of political respectability, I suppose you could do worse than on MSNBC between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. on weekdays.
That’s when you can see Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski — former fans of the current president, now mortal enemies — discourse on the perfidies of one Donald J. Trump.
Some days they’re serious, quaking with the kind of perfectly toned indignation not seen on MSNBC since the heady days of Keith Olbermann’s Bush-era “how dare you, sir?” rants.
Some days they’re less serious, cracking wise on the president’s deficiencies. See, Orange Man make gaffe! That’s never happened to any other politician ever. Let’s spend a few minutes on that.
Friday was probably an attempt at the latter. I say attempt because, well, they questioned Barron Trump’s paternity. And here I thought Maury Povich was on another channel.
So, you’ve probably seen the clip of President Trump speaking at the White House as he announced his intention to instruct the Food and Drug Administration to ban certain flavors of e-cigarette “juice.”
He referred to the child he has with his wife Melania in a, well, unusual way:
President Trump referred to his son Barron in an unusual way during a press conference about vaping. https://t.co/bXCJ49h42d
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) September 11, 2019
“Vaping has become a very big business, as I understand it,” Trump said.
“But we can’t allow people to get sick, and we can’t have our youth be so affected. And I’m hearing it. And that’s how the first lady got involved. I mean, she’s got a son — together — that is a beautiful, young man, and she feels very, very strongly about it.”
All right, so kind of funny to say “she’s got a son” when it’s obviously their child. There are quips that can be made about this in reasonable taste. Plenty were.
One of them wasn’t made Friday on MSNBC:
While discussing former Vice President Joe Biden’s performance in Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate, Scarborough announced that “we’re going to have a new segment on ‘Morning Joe’ and it’s going to be called ‘Adventures in Syntax,’” referring to Biden’s gaffes during the debate.
He said they were going to compare that performance with “Donald Trump yesterday … talking about ‘Melania’s son’ and mumbling the word ‘together.’”
“Maybe it is Melania’s son,” Brzezinski responded.
“It is Melania’s son,” Scarborough said.
“Well that’s what he was saying, he was saying it was just her son. That’s not, that’s just what he said,” Brzezinski shot back, smiling.
“Let me get back to Biden, because I don’t — I don’t know exactly what you’re saying,” Scarborough said, missing a beat.
“Well, it seems like he didn’t remember Barron’s name, or–” Brzezinski responded.
“Just stop,” Scarborough said, interrupting his worse half. “We’ll let the tape play itself, OK?”
After you see the clip for the first time, I implore you to go back and carefully watch each of the “Brady Bunch” windows on screen that doesn’t contain either Joe or Mika.
Each of the participants wears a rictus that seems to indicate they know they’ve walked into a cringeworthy viral moment they’re never going to be able to erase from YouTube.
I know that the president and the principals of “Morning Joe” have gone back and forth over the air and social media for quite some time now. Some of it has made the president’s relationship with Jim Acosta look chummy in comparison.
Perhaps both sides ought to remember that old maxim, “Tackle the ball, not the player.”
However, if they want to tackle the player, go for it. That’s what cable news shows are for, after all.
Here’s a pro tip, though: Don’t tackle the player’s son. Questioning Barron Trump’s paternity isn’t about Donald or Melania Trump. It’s about a 13-year-old kid.
This is absolute shamelessness. If we don’t see a Monday morning apology from MSNBC, we can tell a lot about their standards nowadays — or rather, the absolute lack thereof.