Ever since Marco Rubio’s rather repetitive performance at Saturday night’s debate, much of the talk of This Town has been centered on the Marcomentum coming out of Iowa and whether the boom was about to turn into a bust. Rubio’s team has been battling back gamely from the beat down Chris Christie initiated, but the Florida senator seems to be getting some help from the media in the closing hours of the Battle of New Hampshire. Surely there is some other explanation for why he’s stagnating in the Granite State polls other than that debate showing, right?

The New York Times thinks they’ve latched onto at least part of the answer. It must be the bad treatment he’s received from MSNBC host Joe Scarborough. And why would Joe have it in for Rubio? Aw… he’s probably just jealous. Oh, and the fact that he doesn’t come on Morning Joe. (Seriously?) They begin with an email from a member of Joe’s staff badgering Rubio to come in for an interview. From there, the Times explanation wanders off into some truly bizarre territory.

The email, obtained by The New York Times, offered a raw glimpse into an unusual spat playing out on-screen, day after day, with “Morning Joe” needling Mr. Rubio, the only major presidential candidate who has refused to appear on the program.

In an election season marked by animosity, egos and insults, this feud transcends media, politics and state lines. It follows two men from the swamps of Florida politics to a presidential cycle in which Mr. Rubio, 44, has emerged as a leading candidate, and Mr. Scarborough, 52, as one of his fiercest critics.

On the surface, the fight seems to be a classic case of a celebrity host being snubbed and his feelings being hurt: Mr. Rubio has appeared on “Morning Joe” just once since becoming a senator.

While Mr. Rubio has boycotted the program, its hosts have derided him for everything from his fashion choices (“shagalicious”) to his lack of legislative accomplishments, producing the kind of memorable moments that have taken off on social media.

They also go so far as to imply that Scarborough is jealous of Rubio and secretly wants to be a Senator himself. What the heck is going on at the New York Times these days?

Seriously, have Ashley Parker and Jonathan Martin ever watched the show? The MoJo team goes after everyone remotely close to running for president (and any other high profile races) to come on the show. They also have a standing rule which states that they won’t let surrogates come on the show and peddle the candidate’s talking points until they do the show at least once themselves. If any proof is needed, Hillary Clinton somewhat famously refused to show up for the longest time and they didn’t allow her spokespeople on either. It’s just a rule they have.

And are we to seriously think that Rubio is getting special treatment? I’m scratching my head to think of anyone on either side of the race who hasn’t been criticized by their panel. (And for that matter, complimented when they do something well.) Believe me, I watch the show every day and I don’t agree with every opinion rolling off the set, but I’ve yet to see them playing favorites. One of Joe’s long running criticisms of Marco is that he’s a first term senator without much in the way of a record to prepare him for the presidency. Do you know who else Scarborough has said the exact same thing about? Barack Obama and Ted Cruz. And yet somehow Obama became President and Cruz won the Iowa caucuses. I guess Joe’s frightening magic must not be infallible, eh?

And finally, how embarrassed must the Times be to even suggest this?

Mr. Scarborough, who served four terms in the House, had long eyed a Senate seat. But it was Mr. Rubio, who ran and won in 2010, buoyed by a Tea Party wave. (At the time, Mr. Scarborough questioned the viability of Mr. Rubio’s candidacy, at one point warning that the “other shoe” was going to drop — though the promised scandal never emerged.)

This cycle, Mr. Scarborough encouraged speculation that he might wage a presidential bid. But again, it was Mr. Rubio who mounted a campaign for president. Mr. Scarborough said he never considered running for president, and pointed out that he lives in Connecticut — so he would not have been competing with Mr. Rubio for a Senate seat.

People have been trying to drag Scarborough back into politics kicking and screaming pretty much since he left office. If he’d wanted to be a Senator he’d have already run. He’s also been courted by multiple people to form an exploratory committee and run for President. The guy has kids to take care of and a rather lucrative job. I don’t get paid to read minds, but if he really wanted to go through all that garbage again I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be on the show every morning… he’d be out on the trail running.

Since it’s now apparently fair game to engage in idle speculation and innuendo, here’s some for you: the New York Times absolutely despises both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. They clearly don’t want either of them to get the nomination, say nothing of the presidency. Perhaps they see Rubio as the most harmless alternative and want to prop up his chances. And if you can’t defend Rubio’s performance at the debate, the next best thing is to attack the messenger who’s criticizing him. I wonder if that could be behind this article?

Seriously, does anyone really believe that Joe Scarborough invented all this criticism of Rubio or dreamed up that dismal debate performance all by himself? The silly season is hitting its stride in full now.

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