Joe Scarborough, co-host of Morning Joe, the weekday morning news show on MSNBC, says one of the keys to the show's success is "I know when to shut up."
Scarborough and his co-host, Mika Brzezinski, exchanged banter and talked about journalism at a Community Conversation luncheon in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, presented by the Poynter Institute.
The sold-out crowd of about 500 included a bipartisan array of local political and business figures as well as media celebrities such as Arianna Huffington. The one audience member consistently surrounded by people who wanted a word or a photo, though, was former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. "I hope you have a security detail, Charlie," Scarborough cracked.
Asked about Morning Joe guest Chris Matthews' aggressive exchange with Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus on Monday's show, Brzezinski said, "Our strategy for discourse on the show is to have a civil one. … Yesterday it went off the rails."
Scarborough, a conservative former member of Congress, said he and Brzezinski, a liberal, try to avoid hewing to predictable party positions. "We consider ourselves a failure when I fall into a traditional Republican line or Mika falls into a traditional Marxist line," he joked.
Morning Joe is broadcasting live from the RNC. "People are very cynical about the conventions," Scarborough said. "But some of the people who are whining about them being on for four days are people who watch the Kardashians a hundred nights a year."
"Besides," he said, "the longer we keep politicians in a confined area, the more likely they are to screw up and give us the real story."