Morning Joe

Morning Joe Information

Morning Joe is a weekday morning talk show on MSNBC, with Joe Scarborough discussing the news of the day in a panel format with co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist. It was created as the replacement for Imus in the Morning, which was canceled in April 2007 after simulcasting on MSNBC since 1996. It airs from 6AM to 9AM Eastern Time.


Morning Joe began as a fill-in program after Don Imus' Imus in the Morning was canceled. Former Florida Congressman Joe Scarborough, then-host of the nighttime MSNBC program Scarborough Country, suggested the idea of doing a morning show instead. He put together what would become Morning Joe with Scarborough Country executive producer Chris Licht and screenwriter John Ridley. On May 9, 2007, the show debuted as one of a series of rotating programs auditioning for Imus's former slot, with Scarborough joined by co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Ridley. Scarborough had personally asked Brzezinski to co-host with him the night before the first audition, while she was a 'cut-in' presenter during MSNBC's primetime schedule on a freelance basis.

Ridley quickly dropped out as main co-host but continued as a regular guest, while Willie Geist was tapped as co-host. The program permanently took over the slot in July 2007, though the decision was not officially announced until that October.

During the first quarter of 2009, Morning Joe earned higher ratings in the age 25-54 demo category than CNN's competing program, American Morning. It still had fewer viewers overall. Both programs regularly finish behind Fox News's Fox and Friends during the same time period.

As of March 2010, the show's ratings remained behind those of Fox and Friends, while it earned higher ratings overall than its other cable competitors American Morning, Morning Express with Robin Meade, and Squawk Box.

On June 29, 2009, along with the rest of the network, the show launched in 1080i high definition.

On April 29, 2013, the show began using new on its standard definition channel. While presented in 16:9, though, most graphical elements remain inside the 4:3 safe area.

As of April 2013, Morning Joe is the lowest rated of the big three cable news morning shows in both total viewers and the younger demographic.

Coverage of the 2008 presidential race

The show broadcasted live from Des Moines, Iowa, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Columbia, South Carolina during the 2008 Republican and Democratic primaries and caucuses. Presidential candidates such as Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Barack Obama, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney participated as guests.


Since June 1, 2009, Morning Joe has been presented as "brewed by Starbucks," and the sponsor's logo is now part of the show's logo. Although the hosts have previously consumed Starbucks coffee on air "for free," in the words of MSNBC president Phil Griffin, it was not paid placement at that time. The move was met with mixed reactions from rival news organizations, viewed as both a clever partnership in an economic downturn and a compromise of journalistic standards. Target Corporation now also offers a "Morning Joe" brand of coffee exclusively in its stores, many of which also incorporate Starbucks shops.


WABC radio edition

A radio version debuted in December 2008, carried on WABC in New York City and other Citadel Media owned and operated stations. Scarborough and Brzezinski host this version, which also replays highlights from the day's television show. For legal reasons, this version is called The Joe Scarborough Show. Scarborough claims that, at least on WABC, the show beat the Glenn Beck Program in the New York City radio market's Arbitron ratings. However, despite acceptable ratings, the radio version was put on hiatus in April 2010. Scarborough intends to bring back the show in a revised three-hour version at an undisclosed time in the future.

Way Too Early

On July 27, 2009, Willie Geist began hosting a new show, Way Too Early with Willie Geist. It airs at 5:30 AM U.S. Eastern Time, 30 minutes prior to Morning Joe.

Daily segments and regular anchors

  • Morning Papers - daily headline and Must read Op-Ed stories from Newspapers nationwide, at the 6:20 and lower third ().
  • Morning Grind - daily news roundup, read by Mika Brzezinski at the beginning and thirty-minute mark of each hour.
  • News You Can't Use - Willie Geist's daily roundup of offbeat news stories.
  • Politico Playbook - at the 6:20 and 8:20 marks, a Politico staff member (most frequently Mike Allen) provides the day's political news from the website's editorial offices in Arlington, VA.
  • The Sideline - in a segment during the second half of the 6:00 hour, Willie Geist presents the previous day's sports news. The segment was previously called the Morning Sports Shot.
  • Business Before the Bell - at the 8:30 mark, a CNBC correspondent reports on the morning's business news from CNBC's NYSE booth.
  • Political Roundtable - this segment is featured during the show's last half-hour. It is devoted to discussion between the hosts and guests of a political issue of the day.
  • What Have We Learned Today? - the show's closing segment, in which the hosts and on-set guests joke about what they learned on that day's broadcast.

Regular guests and contributors

Regular guests and contributors include:

  • Mike Barnicle, freelance columnist.
  • Maria Bartiromo, host of CNBC's Closing Bell, & Wall Street Journal Report.
  • Tom Brokaw, NBC News Special Correspondent.
  • Tina Brown, publisher of The Daily Beast.
  • Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor during the administration of U.S. President Jimmy Carter and the father of co-host Mika Brzezinski.
  • Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post editorial page writer.
  • Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey.
  • Jim Cramer, host of CNBC's Mad Money.
  • Donny Deutsch, CEO of the advertising/marketing firm Deutsch, Inc. and CNBC/MSNBC contributor.
  • Harold Ford, Jr., Democratic Leadership Council chairman and former Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Tennessee's 9th district.
  • Chrystia Freeland, global editor-at-large for Reuters.
  • David Gregory, current host of Meet the Press.
  • Savannah Guthrie, Co-Anchor of "Today Show".
  • Richard N. Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations.
  • Mark Halperin, MSNBC senior political analyst, editor-at-large at Time Magazine and co-author of the 2008 presidential-campaign history, Game Change.
  • John Heilemann, writer for New York magazine and co-author of the 2008 presidential-campaign history, Game Change.
  • Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post.
  • Bill Karins, New York bureau Weather Channel meteorologist.
  • Katty Kay, anchor of BBC World News America.
  • Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews.
  • Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, co-host of PBS television newsmagazine Need to Know, and former editor of Newsweek.
  • Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent, NBC News and host of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports.
  • Wes Moore, Speaker and Author.
  • Mike Murphy, political analyst and Republican party strategist.
  • Peggy Noonan, op-ed columnist for the Wall Street Journal.
  • Lawrence O'Donnell, host of MSNBC's The Last Word and Emmy-winning writer and producer for the TV series The West Wing.
  • Steve Rattner, Morning Joe economic analyst.
  • John Ridley, screenwriter and Huffington Post contributor.
  • Eugene Robinson, Washington Post editorial columnist
  • Jeffrey Sachs, economist and Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University
  • Dan Senor, fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and former deputy press secretary for U.S. President George W. Bush.
  • Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee.
  • Sam Stein, Huffington Post correspondent
  • Richard Stengel, managing editor of Time. Stengel reveals the cover of the coming week's magazine every Thursday.
  • Chuck Todd, NBC News political director and NBC News Chief White House correspondent.
  • Mort Zuckerman, owner and publisher of the New York Daily News and editor-in-chief of U.S. News & World Report.

Former contributors and segments

  • Pat Buchanan, former co-host of CNN's Crossfire and MSNBC's Buchanan and Press. A former presidential candidate and an MSNBC on-air personality since 2002, Buchanan was suspended by the network in October 2011, following the publication of his book "Suicide of a Superpower". Four months later, MSNBC severed its relationship with Buchanan.
  • Erin Burnett, CNN and former CNBC anchor. In her role as anchor on CNBC's Squawk on the Street, Burnett regularly contributed as the correspondent during the daily 8:30 "Business Before the Bell" segment. She left CNBC for an anchor position at CNN in May 2011. Scarborough habitually introduced Burnett with the nickname "International Superstar."
  • Tucker Carlson, political commentator. Carlson left MSNBC to work as a commentator for the Fox News Channel in May 2009.
  • Mark Haines, the late co-anchor of CNBC's Squawk on the Street. Haines filled in for his co-anchor Erin Burnett on several occasions for the "Business Before the Bell" segment. He briefly took it over after her departure from CNBC until his death on May 24, 2011.
  • Courtney Hazlett, MSNBC entertainment correspondent and author of "The Scoop" column and blog featured on From October 2007 through July 2009, the show's next-to-last segment regularly featured Hazlett and co-host Willie Geist discussing her latest column. The segment, titled Morning Scoop, was sponsored by L'Oréal, whose ad spots continued for several weeks after it had been effectively discontinued. No official announcement or explanation was given regarding the decision to drop Hazlett from the show. She remains a contributor to the website and other MSNBC programs.
  • Nicole Lapin, CNN & former her guest anchor on CNBC's Worldwide Exchange.
  • Jackie Meretsky, NBC Weather Plus meteorologist. NBC shut down NBC Weather Plus in December 2008, thus eliminating her position. She was on maternity leave at the time. Meretsky joined Good Morning America as a meteorologist in 2011.
  • Norah O'Donnell, former MSNBC Chief Washington Correspondent. O'Donnell frequently appeared as a commentator and often guest-hosted the program with Willie Geist in Scarborough and Brzezinski's absence. She left MSNBC and NBC News to become Chief White House Correspondent for CBS News in June 2011.
  • Fred Roggin, KNBC-TV sports anchor. Between 2007 and 2010, Roggin contributed a taped sports scores and highlight recap for "The Sideline" and "Morning Sports Shot" segments during the 6:00 hour. Co-host Willie Geist gradually took over the segment in 2010.
  • Tim Russert, the late host of NBC's Meet the Press.
  • Sam Tanenhaus, senior editor of the New York Times Book Review. Between April 2009 and March 2010, Tanenhaus would appear on either the Thursday or Friday show to preview the New York Times Book Review's forthcoming issue.
  • Morning Joe Moment - during August 2009, this was briefly the replacement for Courtney Hazlett and the Morning Scoop. It featured a host replaying his or her favorite moment from the day's show.

Notable incidents

Chris Matthews "messed around" comments

On January 9, 2008, the morning after Hillary Clinton's surprise victory in the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary, Matthews appeared on the show and said of Clinton,
I'll be brutal, the reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around. That's how she got to be senator from New York. We keep forgetting it. She didn't win there on her merit.
The comments, widely seen as grossly sexist and unfair, were criticized by such diverse media figures as Bill O'Reilly, Joy Behar, and Gloria Steinem. They also resulted in protests outside NBC's Washington, D.C. studios, as well as a joint letter of complaint to NBC from the National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority, and the National Women's Political Caucus. Matthews apologized for the comments on the January 17, 2008 edition of his own MSNBC program, Hardball.

Expletive incident

On November 10, 2008 Scarborough used the word "fuck" on air while quoting a story about then-President-elect Obama's incoming Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. Once he realized his mistake, Scarborough repeatedly apologized for his slip of the tongue and explained that he'd meant to say "the F word" instead. The next day, MSNBC instituted a seven second delay for Morning Joe.

Mark Halperin's "dick" Comment

In reference to a press conference President Barack Obama had the previous day, June 29, 2011, Time editor-at-large Mark Halperin said the president came off as "kind of a dick" during the previous day's press conference. The word aired uncensored, despite the seven second delay, when a producer failed to press the button that would have "bleeped" the word. Halperin issued an on air apology immediately following a commercial break The White House subsequently complained to MSNBC about Halperin's remarks. On June 30, 2011, Halperin was temporarily suspended from his duties at MSNBC for "slurring" the President. He returned as a guest a couple of weeks later.

Mika Brzezinski mugged

On December 18, 2008, the show's cohost, Mika Brzezinski, got mugged before coming in to do Morning Joe. Joe Scarborough was visibly and verbally outraged that the hotel they were staying at did not have security outside the door. The show was being taped from Washington D.C. She said on the show, "He wanted $20," and since she only had $6, she was "very scared" since she felt that "I did not have enough."

"Stunningly superficial"

On December 30, 2008, Zbigniew Brzezinski (Mika's father and former National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter) came as a guest to discuss the unfolding Israel-Palestine crisis. Scarborough claimed that Yasser Arafat was offered everything he wanted at the 2000 Camp David Summit. This statement provoked Zbigniew to reply, "You know, you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it's almost embarrassing to listen to you". Subsequently, the phrase "stunningly superficial" has become somewhat of a running gag on the show.

Feud with Jon Stewart

On June 3, 2009, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart mocked the Starbucks sponsorship of the program, showing several clips of the Morning Joe cast prominently displaying and complimenting Starbucks products as well as an interview with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Scarborough responded that his intent in discussing the sponsorship was sarcastic, and he suggested that Stewart and his "90 writers" did not understand the joke. On June 8, Stewart feigned embarrassment over missing their alleged sarcasm, claiming, "At the time, I thought your jokey manner was just a way of supplementing your shame over the discomfort you feel deep in your soul after extinguishing the last smoldering embers of any of your program's journalistic bona fides. But now, I realize that that wasn't the case!" On June 9, Scarborough fired back, referring to Stewart as "a very, very angry guy with a Napoleonic complex." The next day, Stewart and correspondent John Oliver again responded with a skit, involving Stewart impersonating Napoleon and Oliver impersonating an even shorter Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington. After the routine, Jon Stewart joked that he hoped that this would be the end of the feud, since continuing it was becoming expensive for the show.

Clash with Rush Limbaugh

During the Obama administration, Joe Scarborough has sought to distance himself from certain elements in the Republican Party. He has criticized Republicans such as Rush Limbaugh who have celebrated President Obama's failed bid to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago saying that "Republicans have gone off the deep end." On the October 8, 2009 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh fired back by saying that Scarborough was "doing his best impression of [...] a neutered chickified moderate." Scarborough responded the next day on Morning Joe, faulting Limbaugh for uncritical loyalty to George W. Bush during the president's tenure in office. Scarborough specifically said that Limbaugh had put his "testicles in a blind trust for George W. Bush for eight years."

Campaign-donation suspension

MSNBC suspended show host Joe Scarborough without pay from the November 22 and November 23, 2010 broadcasts. It had been discovered that Scarborough had made eight campaign donations to political candidates without management approval during his employment at the channel. This is in violation of NBC News policy, which stipulates that employees must receive permission from the network's president before making campaign contributions. In a written statement, Scarborough said that he agreed with the suspension, apologizing to MSNBC and "to anyone who has been negatively affected by my actions." The suspension followed a similar disciplinary action taken against Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, who had also made unauthorized political contributions.

Russell Brand Interview

The Morning Joe episode which aired on June 17, 2013 went viral on the internet hit shortly after actor and comedian Russell Brand was interviewed on the show. He was there, ostensibly, to promote his forthcoming stand-up comedy tour "The Messiah Complex". After being repeatedly referred to in the third person, referred to as "Willy" Brand and talked about "as if he wasn't" there and (as if he was) an extraterrestrial", he took the floor with a scathing commentary on what he perceived as a lack of professionalism and manners demonstrated by the interviewers. He appeared to confuse the other guests with his direct, plain speaking dialogue. In a final apparent attempt to offer an olive branch of humor to the show's host Mika Brzezinski, Brand quipped "this woman is a shaft grasper" after she appeared to nervously, and suggestively, stroke her water bottle.

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