The bromance between Donald Trump and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough is finally, finally over—and quite possibly dead.
For months, Scarborough and his Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski have been criticized for their warm relationship—friendship, even—with Trump, now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. This week, however, it appears as though the real-estate mogul’s repeated racist attacks on “Mexican” Judge Gonzalo Curiel have at long last turned Scarborough into a fiercely vocal critic.
On Wednesday morning, Scarborough took some time on Morning Joe to call out Republican figures who have endorsed and supported The Donald, but will not use any potential leverage to get Trump to curb his bigoted outbursts.
“They’re… I can’t say the word that they are… they’re being weak,” Scarborough said on the show. Brzezinski subsequently clarified that “Trump has used the word,” meaning that Scarborough was calling out some of Trump’s Republican endorsers as “pussies.”
“Donald, guess what, I’m not going to support you until you get your act together,” Scarborough ranted. “You’re acting like bush-league loser, you’re acting like a racist, you’re acting like a bigot … Until you…prove to me you’re not a bigot and you don’t take my party down in the ditch, you don’t have my endorsement.”
“It is in your hands on whether you are going to prove to the Republican Party and me personally that you’re not a bigot,” he continued, raising his voice at the camera. “Don’t use Hillary Clinton as an excuse, as your blank check to say racist things about [a judge] born in Indiana. No, Donald, you don’t get to play it that way.”
Multiple sources at MSNBC told The Daily Beast on Wednesday that Trump’s assault on Curiel’s heritage was the last straw—and is making the MSNBC host reconsider his entire relationship with the GOP nominee.
“Oh, he’s pissed, this isn’t just for show,” one network insider told The Daily Beast. “He could very well be done [with Trump]. I haven’t seen him like this in a while.”
Scarborough’s monologue on Wednesday’s Morning Joe provoked—rather predictably—a near-immediate rebuttal from Trump himself.
“Nobody is watching @Morning_Joe anymore,” he tweeted. “Gone off the deep end—bad ratings. You won’t believe what I am watching now!”
Scarborough returned the fire, telling Trump, “by your own standards, you’re not a real American. Your mother was a foreigner.”
A messy breakup between Morning Joe and Donald Trump had been brewing for a while. On Monday morning, Scarborough, Brzezinski, and their crew went after Trump for making “completely racist” remarks, and also slammed House Speaker Paul Ryan for endorsing him. A few days prior, Trump had already claimed that he does not watch Morning Joe anymore, and tweeted: “I hear Mika has gone wild with hate. Joe is Joe. They lost their way!”
But this week’s developments show the steepest escalation yet in on-air and social-media hostilities between Team Trump and Team Scarborough. Early last month, the two Republican men engaged in a brief Twitter tiff, stemming from a Morning Joe segment in which Scarborough lauded Ryan’s (initial) reluctance to endorse Trump for president. (The segment wasn’t, however, antagonistic toward Trump, with Scarborough also asserting that “Trump doesn’t need Paul Ryan.”)
It wasn’t too long ago that Scarborough and Brzezinski were regularly critiqued for treating Trump with kids’ gloves. In February, CNN reported that Trump and Scarborough’s friendship had become an “increasing source of discomfort at NBC.” Later that month, the pair hosted a televised town hall with Trump that was widely panned for its torrent of softball questions.
“[I] get a sense from people that if you don’t stand on top of [Trump] with your knees on his chest and stab him in the side of the neck until he bleeds out it’s never going to be enough,” Scarborough later complained, reacting to critics of his coziness with The Donald.
Since the start of the Trump campaign last summer, Morning Joe’s cast members have been insisting that Trump had a better than decent chance of securing the Republican nomination. Joe and Mika, and their co-panelists, turned out to be correct.
It’s just that now it looks as if they are wishing they’d been proven wrong.