Joe Scarborough spent Thursday morning defending Donald Trump’s refusal to say that he would accept the outcome of the presidential election, accusing those who expressed outrage at the Republican nominee’s comments of “whimpering and whining.”
“The media got something they can absolutely freak out about and claim that he is an agent of Vladimir Putin and destroying democracy in America,” the MSNBC host said of the near-universal condemnation of Trump’s comments at the final presidential debate. “It’s just another example of the media having to find a little phrase and freak out.”
Pundits, politicians and voters from across the ideological spectrum said that the Republican nominee was undermining U.S. democracy and the peaceful transfer of power with his comments about keeping the country “in suspense” over whether he would concede if he lost the race.
“I will look at it at the time,” Trump said.
To the shock of his fellow “Morning Joe” panelists, Scarborough repeatedly invoked this line to make the case that the media was overplaying Trump’s comments.
Harold Ford Jr. said that Trump’s comments, coupled with his frequent predictions that the election will be “rigged” against him, clearly suggest that he “is not willing to say, ‘I will accept the outcome.’”
“No, what that means is he will look at it at the time,” Scarborough replied. “I love everybody saying—I woke up to these screaming headlines ‘Donald Trump will not respect election results.’ He said, ‘I will look at it at the time.’”
Ford pointed out that no other presidential candidate has made such a comment about a race.
Yet Scarborough accused Democrats and the media of “hypocrisy” for crying wolf about stolen elections before, invoking the 2000 presidential election and claiming that “Democrats forget everything that they’ve been saying on their blogs, in their newspapers, in their magazines over the past 16 years.”
Trump’s debate-night claim came up at least three other times during Thursday’s show, with panelists Willie Geist, Mike Barnicle, and Ford trying to convince Scarborough he’d missed the forest for the trees and Mika Brzezinski defending Scarborough’s focus on the exact words Trump used.
Scarborough, Brzezinski and Mark Halperin argued that only “elites in Manhattan or Georgetown” cared about Trump’s answers.
“Literally you look at the words, that is not what he said,” Scarborough said. “He said he would wait. Mika and I are both opposed to it, but we’re also opposed to people projecting and expanding upon what he said and it’s the same thing—this sounds so much like this little Republican congressman after Obamacare and everything gets passed. Every three weeks freedom has died a death.”
Watch a clip of the exchange below: