Morning Joe Hosts Fault Fox News For Donald Trump's Debate Boycott

Joe Scarborough: “Fox Has Walked Into A Trap That Actually Feeds Into Every One Of [Trump's] Strengths”

From the January 28 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

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JOE SCARBOROUGH (CO-HOST): So Willie, Donald Trump, look at, I mean, the guy looks like he's in the catbird seat. He's, again, I think Fox has walked into a trap that actually feeds into every one of his strengths. He now has the most powerful network for Republicans. I mean, it's an indispensable network for Republicans, now has their most powerful person begging them to be on a debate stage.


WILLIE GEIST: As I said yesterday, I think in that statement they were calling his bluff and I don't think it was meant to completely taunt Donald Trump. It was in the style of statements they put out in the past. I think they were trying to make about a joke about the whole situation where he put up the Twitter poll and asked whether he should do the debate. And it backfired. I think they just walked into a different kind of character, somebody who's not going to play the game, as he said. I think Roger Ailes probably thought this is the first salvo, Trump will fire back, we'll talk behind the scenes, and it will be good for everybody. And at this point it doesn't look like it's going to be good for Fox News and I think it might not have worked out the way they thought it would.

SCARBOROUGH: So Mike, Donald Trump has broken all the rules this campaign and he's always been three steps ahead of everybody else. I had somebody last night ask me, he said “you guys for six months, Joe, you guys have given him positive news coverage.” I said, “no, we just six months ago when everybody said he couldn't win, everybody around this table said he could and when everybody was saying he didn't have a chance to get above 20 percent, we were saying he could.” And we've been proven right every step of the way. Donald Trump has blown up every convention about politics and now he's doing it with Republican politics, which says you can only win by being obsequious to Fox News. I've got to tell you, if I ran for anything, I would be obsequious to Fox News. Nobody has the power, for whatever reason he can do it, for Donald Trump to do what he does. I don't get it.

MIKE BARNICLE: It's all beyond me. I can't figure anything out anymore when it comes to Donald Trump. I really can't. Fox News never should have issued that statement that they issued. A news organization shouldn't be issuing a statement that sounds as if it came from an opposite campaign. And I don't know that, you know, yesterday Megyn Kelly was going back at Donald Trump saying things. I like Megyn Kelly, but she shouldn't get herself involved in a back and forth with the candidate for president.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, especially if she's going to be a moderator.

BARNICLE: Correct.


SCARBOROUGH: At any network, I don't see how anybody, any candidate would allow themselves to go before somebody who he had been openly hostile to and she had been openly hostile back to. It's been a war of words.

JOHN HEILEMANN: Yeah, Joe, I think, well, that's clearly right and I can understand Trump's position here. Everyone's already said on the show, they walked into a trap. They set themselves up. And, I mean, one doesn't want to sound priggish about this, but it is the case that, you know, a lot of people say Fox News isn't really a news organization. Generally I like to, you know, try to defend Fox News to the extent it's possible and say, you know, they have ideological slant, but they are a real news organization or try to do real journalism. But in this instance they've behaved, I think, petulantly and not like any news organization of any stripes should ever behave. They've opened themselves up to criticism. They've made themselves vulnerable to Trump's strength. He's winning this battle entirely. There was no real backlash yesterday. He's paying no price for this and I think he's going to benefit from it if anything.


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