The Washington Post's Wesley Lowery and the Huffington Post's Ryan Reilly (formerly of TPM) said they were arrested after "not leaving McDonald's quickly enough" and were later released without being charged. The two were covering ongoing protests against police over Saturday's fatal shooting of an unarmed young black man, Michael Brown.
"There is a lot of unanswered questions here, but I do know this," Scarborough said. "When a police officer asks you to pick up -- I've been in places where police officers said, 'All right, you know what? This is cordoned off, you guys need to move along.' You know what I do? I go, 'Yes, sir,' or 'Yes, ma'am.' I don't sit there and have a debate and film the police officer, unless I want to get on TV and have people talk about me the next day."
Scarborough acknowledged that he'd probably get a lot of flak for saying that, but repeated that "next time a police officer tells you that you've got to move along because you've got riots outside, well, you probably should move along."
"I didn't see any evidence that there were riots outside that McDonald's," the New York Times' Nick Confessore chimed in.
"I wasn't there either," Scarborough said. "I don't know why the police officers were there. I know it's bad out there."
He went on to insist that the officers were likely just following orders in telling the reporters to clear the area and faulted the journalists for recording the encounter instead of packing up in a timely fashion.
"Am I a sucker for when the police officer comes in and says 'Hey, we need you to move along?' Am I a sucker for actually listening and moving along, or should I sit there and question him?" Scarborough later asked. "By the way, what was he packing up? If he was packing up our entire control room, that's fine. He had a freakin' laptop. Come on! 'Oh, wait, I'm packing up, officer, let me ask you a question.' I'm sorry."
Lowery didn't take kindly to the MSNBC host's criticism.
"Well I would invite Joe Scarborough to come down to Ferguson and get out of 30 Rock where he's sitting and sipping his Starbucks smugly," he told CNN's Kate Bolduan Thursday morning. "I invite him to come and talk to the residents of Ferguson, where I've been since Monday afternoon having tear gas shot at me, having rubber bullets shot at me ... I would invite Joe Scarborough down here to do some reporting on the ground, then maybe we can have an educated conversation about what's happening here."
"Things are on fire, this community is on edge," he added. "There's so much happening here and instead of putting more reporters on the ground we have people like Joe Scarborough who are running their mouth and who have no idea what they're talking about."