The cozy relationship Donald Trump has enjoyed with MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski may have finally met its end.
Scarborough and Brzezinski, who were criticized recently by Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi and other outlets for failing to hold Trump accountable for his near-constant stream of bigoted comments and extreme policies, expressed surprise Monday that Trump had failed to distance himself from white nationalist David Duke. In a CNN interview Sunday, Trump refused to disavow the support of the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, and feigned ignorance about who Duke is.
"That's disqualifying right there. It's breathtaking," Scarborough said on Morning Joe. "To say you don't know about the Ku Klux Klan? You don't know about David Duke?"
Trump's comments belied the fact that in 2000, he abandoned a bid to run for the Reform Party's presidential nomination because of its affiliation with Duke. Back then, Trump said in a statement, "The Reform Party now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke, a neo-Nazi, Mr. Buchanan, and a communist, Ms. Fulani. This is not company I wish to keep."
Scarborough, who during a recent MSNBC town hall failed to ask Trump about his plan to deport 11 million undocumented workers or his proposal to ban 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide from entering the United States, and who could be heard in leaked audio laughing and joking with Trump off-air the same night, appeared eager to distance himself from the candidate Monday, criticizing him both on-air and in an op-ed in the Washington Post.
"Sunday's distressing performance is just the latest in a string of incidents that suggest to critics that Donald Trump is using bigotry to fuel his controversial campaign," Scarborough wrote without irony in the Post.
Scarborough went on to enumerate previous instances during which he stood up to Trump, both in the piece and on his show Monday. He and Brzezinski were disgusted with Trump's Muslim ban from the get-go, he stressed. "We did find it repugnant.... We attacked Trump" the morning after he proposed the ban on Muslims, Scarborough said. "That's the morning that we hung up on him. [Brzezinski] said it was frightening — a frightening policy. I asked, 'Is this how Nazi Germany looked in 1933?'"
Trump had not responded to Scarborough's comments on Monday, but his sons, Eric and Donald Jr., did appear on Morning Joe's competitor, Fox & Friends, where they promised to buy the airfare of any Trump critics wishing to leave the country after he was elected.