MSNBC host Joe Scarborough suggested that reporters continuing to cover the fallout of the Trump-Russia collusion canard are “useful idiots for Russia, or . . . on Russia’s payroll” during a Monday morning segment.
Scarborough was responding to a statement from former president Donald Trump, who asked Friday “where’s Durham? Is he a living, breathing human being? Will there ever be a Durham report?” Trump was referencing now-special counsel John Durham’s probe into the origins of the original investigation into alleged connections between Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Kremlin, which has yet to conclude.
“I’m amused by so-called reporters who — I don’t know if they’re useful idiots for Russia, or if they’re on Russia’s payroll — I don’t know, I don’t really care. But there are some gifted writers who spend all night and day, trying to dig through, looking for instances of where the press screwed up on Russia stories, pushing this ‘Russian hoax’ fallacy. It’s a joke.” he said.
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) March 29, 2021
The Morning Joe host subsequently admitted that “I mean, yeah, the media screwed up at some points, and sometimes they screwed up badly.” But he argued “the totality of everything that happened” showed how “more often than not, they got it right — and they got most of it right.”
Scarborough, who has said that he regrets giving a platform to then-candidate Trump ahead of the 2016 election, has used similar language to describe the former president himself. “Donald Trump is either an agent of Russia or he’s a useful idiot,” Scarborough said in November 2019. “He’s somewhere in between there. We don’t know what it is. We will one day.”
He also repeatedly peddled the infamous Steele dossier, saying in March 2018 that “piece by piece by piece, it’s falling into place.” Declassified footnotes from Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz’s December 2019 report show that the FBI received reports in 2017 suggesting that Steele may have been influenced by Russian intelligence assets. And many of Steele’s most salacious claims, many of which were repeated on Scarborough’s program, were never proven, while others — like the suggestion that Michael Cohen traveled to Prague to meet with a “Kremlin insider” — were disproven.
Independent journalist Matt Taibbi, a longstanding critic of the media’s Russiagate coverage, responded to Scarborough’s criticism by asking for a debate on Morning Joe.