As you might have imagined, I didn’t watch the Trump town hall last night hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC. I thought it wasn’t worth an atom of my time because the duo were most likely going to spend the entire duration of the program asking the candidate senseless, adulatory questions. I spent the hour instead staring abstractedly at the weather channel until I drifted off to sleep.
Now I’d also said a couple of days earlier that I do not even watch the duo’s “Morning Joe” program these days, and that if I ever do, and briefly of course, it’s only for its nuisance value.
As I consulted my twitter feed this morning to see what was new in this 24-hour media ecosystem, I saw that Joe Klein, the famous Time magazine journalist, was trending. Curiosity instantly drove me to find out why. It turned out he’d appeared on Morning Joe just minutes earlier and lobbed a few grenades at Donald Trump, Scarborough’s buddy and interviewee only the previous night. Klein called Trump a “lizard brain ” and went on to compare him to Emperor Caligula, the infamous Roman ruler known for his vanity, profligacy and immoral acts. Those were wounding words indeed to any admirer of Trump, not least Scarborough whose attitude, following the Trump putdown, was the very simulacrum of pain and anguish as he struggled repeatedly to over talk Klein or embarrass him. Scarborough was painful to watch.
A word or two about Klein. Klein is a deeply knowledgeable journalist who speaks and writes with pith and depth at the same time. He’s the author of many widely acclaimed books, including Primary Colors, a novel about Bill Clinton. Klein is an extremely authoritative figure on the Clintons, and he was the first, I guess, who first called him a “natural politician”. But he can also be as brutal, although dispassionately so, in his assessment of the 42nd President of the United States. On such occasions, Scarborough is only too excited to bring him on the program to air such views. On Morning Joe, criticizing Trump is something of a forbidden territory for guests. Scarborough’s guests often walk a fine line doing so, but they are allowed to be so brazen in taking the Clintons down. A fair-minded journalist who doesn’t care whose ox is gored, Klein breached that golden rule this morning by his devastating assessment of Trump, and it is unlikely Scarborough will invite the columnist back soon.
Klein’s words, in addition to displeasing Scarborough, set off a twitter storm as well. Thrice as many people celebrated them, as compared to those who trolled Klein for what they saw as demeaning comments. However, the most significant remark Klein made during the program wasn’t about Trump, but about those fanatical faithful who are voting for the Republican candidate with everything they’ve got, the same faithful I have always believed are living in a hermetically sealed bubble. Klein’s comment about them is profoundly thought-provoking, and I agree totally with him. Please click on the video below and watch.