When I woke up this morning and put on the coffee, I flipped on the television as I always do before starting work and it was tuned to MSNBC. Morning Joe was already on and I saw something which at first didn’t seem all that unusual. There was a song playing over what appeared to be a few still images from the women’s march this weekend. Nothing strange about that. The show always runs bumper music when going to break or coming back and the march took place over the weekend, so it seemed both timely and topical.
But as I stood there watching, it went on. And on. And on. And on. This wasn’t bumper music. They were running an entire music video. The song was one I wasn’t familiar with yet but it had a definite 60s sort of folk vibe to it. The images being portrayed, mixed in with clips of various speakers railing against the President, were uniformly ones supporting positions taken by Democrats and the #RESIST movement. There was much mocking of Trump and the quotes included a clip of Kirsten Gillibrand giving a speech about having “a check on this president” and saying, “I urge you to support Democratic candidates all across this country.” It later switches to Nancy Pelosi talking about how we should “give the President an F” for his performance in office.
I later found out that the song playing in the background was a new one Joe Scarborough had released called “Stand.” Frankly, I was more shocked by this than most anything I can recall seeing on cable news in quite some time. It’s not that Scarborough isn’t entitled to plug his band on his own show. He’s been working on a second career in music for a while now and the band has played on Morning Joe, as well as on late night shows and plenty of live performances. But this wasn’t just another plug for the band, nor was it a standard music video.
Grabien captured the video and you can see it here if you wish. I’m not going to embed it here because I’m not in the habit of running DNC advertisements for free. But what you can also do is check out the actual music video for the song on YouTube. You will see that it’s a straight music track with a still image of Joe with his guitar.
It’s actually not a bad song. (I liked some of his other offerings as well, including Monkey House.) But that’s not the point. Morning Joe wasn’t just featuring a new tune from Scarborough. This was a protest video and a lot of remixing, audio and video work went into assembling it. And it was, more than anything else, a lengthy advertisement for the Democrats in the middle of a shutdown while critics are questioning the fitness of the President to serve. And it was running on a network which clearly bills itself as news, specializing in politics and government affairs.
Here’s the question for the audience to ponder. Should the DNC be paying for this sort of airtime? That segment ran for three minutes and ten seconds. I don’t know what MSNBC is charging for commercial time these days, but last year at this time it would run you $2,750 for a thirty-second spot on Morning Joe. Just going off the back of the napkin, that promotional piece should have cost the Democrats in excess of sixteen grand.
Yes, this is a commentary show so there’s no absolute obligation to stay dead-center in the middle of the ideological road. But by the same token, Morning Joe has always done a panel discussion format where both sides slug it out. That music video was neither. It was an advertisement for the Democrats plain and simple. I really hope this isn’t a new trend.
A request for comment from Joe Scarborough was not answered in time for publication.