Morning Joe co-anchor Mika Brzezinski on Monday — the day before President Donald Trump is set to make his first address to a joint session of Congress — suggested he is acting like a dictator by banning media from an informal briefing.
On Friday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer barred reporters from newspapers including the New York Times and CNN — but not conservative outlets — from covering a non-televised briefing known as a “gaggle”.
Spicer defended the decision, saying the Trump administration has made itself more accessible than probably any past administration.
But Brzezinski, critical of that claim, ran a clip of Spicer speaking on December 16 in Washington, D.C., about Trump’s presidential transition.
“We have a respect for the press when it comes to the government, that that is something you can’t ban an entity from,” he said. “Conservative, liberal or otherwise, I think that’s what makes a democracy a democracy, versus a dictatorship.”
After playing the clip, Brzezinski stared at the camera until one of her guests, a chuckling former Republican National Chairman Michael Steele, interjected, saying: “Let’s just let that marinate.”
Brzezinski then remarked: “Is that where we’re at?…he just described himself…so are they trying to create a dictatorship? I’m not joking and I’m not angry.”
She later said: “His approach to the press seems almost seems infantile. It is infantile, it’s juvenile. It’s unbelievably short-sighted and shows a complete lack of understanding for how Washington works [and] how the press covers news.”
Brzezinski admitted that Trump had given a strong weekly address over the weekend but that “we can’t talk about that” due to the president’s claims that the media isn’t to be trusted.
And that begs the question: How can Trump expect positive media coverage when he says it only delivers “fake news”?
Another guest, Eddie Glaude Jr. — chair of the department of African American studies at Princeton University — said he is “deeply disturbed” by the attack on the fourth estate.
Mark Halperin, co-author of “Game Change” and a regular guest on Morning Joe, said Trump will inevitably lose his war on the media.
“The decision to exclude legitimate news organizations from a regular briefing…is a fight they will lose and should lose. They compounded their problem by not being honest about it. They cannot decide who covers the White House based on whether they like the coverage or not.”
Morning Joe airs weekdays at 6am on MSNBC.