As we summer again: We're off on a mission of national import, summering for the next few days at an impossibly chic, undisclosed location in the Hudson Valley.
But first, a bit of comic relief, live and direct from yesterday morning's Morning Joe.
(To watch what follows on videotape, you can just click here.)
At 6:13 Eastern, in the program's first segment, Mika read a report from prompter about Steve Bannon's latest escapade. The background:
Bannon had made a phone call to liberal icon Robert Kuttner. This followed Kuttner's piece for The American Prospect concerning North Korea.
Kuttner had battered Donald J. Trump pretty good. At the end of his piece, he wrote this:
KUTTNER (8/15/17): For all of his nuclear bluster, Trump may find that the price of avoiding a catastrophic war with North Korea is that the United States becomes even more of a client state of China. In the meantime, the risk of two arrogant fools blundering into a nuclear exchange is more serious than at any time since October 1962.Oof. For whatever 16-dimensional reason, Bannon called Kuttner with words of praise, possibly failing to realize that his deathless remarks were on the record and were indeed being recorded.
Now it was Thursday morning. Joe and Mika were trying to explain what Bannon had done.
Their sidekick, Willie Haskell-Geist Jr., was even present this day. At 6:13, Mika began reading from prompter. This is what she said:
MIKA (8/17/17): Robert Kuttner described being surprised to get the phone call from Bannon. The White House chief strategist apparently called to praise him for a recent piece in which Kuttner had written about North Korea.Uh-oh! Mika was quoting what Kuttner had said. But, as would soon become clear, she apparently thought she was quoting Bannon.
(Signalling heightened interest)
Here we go! He said, quote, "In Kim, Trump has met his match. The risk of two arrogant fools blundering into a nuclear exchange is more serious than at any time since October 1962."
As it turned out, that's what Joe thought too! When Mika stopped reading from prompter, this is what he and Mika wonderfully said:
JOE: So Willie, really, I don't know where to begin with this. But let's just start with the part where he calls the president of the United States, his boss, a blundering fool.Willie continued from there. Wonderfully, Mika had corrected Joe's wording of the quotation, failing to realize that it was being attributed, if we might borrow from Hitch, to "the wrong man."
MIKA: That's a problem.
JOE: Blundering fool. And then undercuts his military strategy...He's just going—
WILLIE: Right to the top.
JOE: —straight for attacks on the commander in chief, calling him a blustering fool and saying he's lying to the world.
At 6:18, Axios' Jonathan Swan was introduced into the discussion. He quickly corrected the gang's mistake. Nobody batted an eye.
As we've noted in the past, everyone makes mistakes. This one was amusing, but also perhaps instructive.
In the humorous realm, we get to see Mika's work on this program in a nutshell. In saying "That's a problem," she offered one of her trademark, three-word affirmations of Whatever It Is That Joe Said.
In this case, she did so without understanding that the remark in question was being attributed to the wrong person. Her later correction of Joe's wording was icing on the cake.
That was the humorous side. More strikingly, none of the program's three principals—Joe, Mika and Haskell-Geist—seemed to have familiarized themselves with the material being discussed on their program.
Producers had planned for this topic to be reviewed in the program's opening segment. When the topic arose, it was left to Swan to come on the air and straighten the whole thing out.
Things like that can happen. In this case, the error provided some late-summer comic relief.
We expect to post tomorrow even as we summer. For one thing, Jason Zinoman's profile of David Letterman's relationship with Donald J. Trump strikes us as horribly, deeply revealing concerning The Way The TV World Works.
We plan to read Mika's third book, Obsessed, over the weekend. We recently read her second book, Knowing Your Value (2011), in which she extensively drew on the wisdom of a fellow you may know—a fellow named Donald J. Trump.