By Ben Kamisar
Newly-leaked audio shows MSNBC hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough chatting with Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTexas becomes tossup, RealClearPolitics declares Clinton, Michelle Obama to hold first joint rally Thursday Donald Trump and the end of history — as we knew it MORE during commercial breaks of a town hall hosted by the morning show personalities.
Much of the recording, released by comedian Harry Shearer on his weekly radio show, seems typical of off-camera patter at television shows.
But it also comes amid criticism, some of it from CNN and other rivals to MSNBC, that the “Morning Joe” team is too supportive or close to Trump, the GOP presidential frontrunner.
In one exchange, Brzezinski calls Trump's decision to call two men onstage to a rally last week after they confronted a protester a “wow moment.”
“You had me almost as a legendary figure, I like that,” Trump responds.
The two hosts go onto say they were wrong for believing that Trump had done poorly during the most recent GOP debate earlier this month, noting polls suggested otherwise.
At one point, Brzezinski seems to ask Scarborough if they should ask Trump questions about deportation. Scarborough only replies that “we really do have to go to some questions.”
Trump then jokes to Brezinski, “Nothing too hard, Mika.”
Trump, whose presidential campaign has benefitted from media attention, notes that he has nothing to gain from participating in the town hall event.
“You, you get great ratings and a raise...Me, I get nothing,” he said. After Trump tells them to “make us all look good,” Scarborough says, “Exactly."
Media reporters with CNN and The Washington Post bashed the relationship between the hosts and Trump as too friendly, accusations that the pair refuted last week.
“We kept peppering him with questions — of course there are haters out there who will never be happy unless we get a knife and stab him in the side of the neck and watch him bleed while shouting profanities at him. Good luck finding another interview where he was interrupted more times than last night,” Scarborough said on the show Friday morning.
“There's a lot of bias out there, a lot of jealous people out there. That's fortunately their problem, not ours.”
The MSNBC town hall with Trump last week was direct competition for a town hall event on CNN with other GOP presidential candidates.
While CNN's town hall included all six GOP candidates spread out over two nights, MSNBC has not held another similar event with another Republican candidate besides Trump.