The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

05 June 2007

Joe Scarborough Stripper Comment, MSNBC, Jeri Thompson


Scarborough's Nasty Jeri Jab Fueling Further Controversy

While defenders try to argue he's been taken out of context, Joe Scarborough's shameless attack on GOP presidential contender Fred Thompson's wife once again demonstrates why he's unfit to take Don Imus's place at MSNBC.

Given the low- rated cable network's dubious reputation, however, some might say the ex- conservative- turned jerky weirdo is perfect for their morning show!

Instead of going away, Joe's on- air suggestion that Jeri Thompson "works the pole" has fired up talk radio and the blogosphere.

From USA Today, here is the latest coverage:

Video of MSNBC's Joe Scarborough bantering on the cable news network Friday about whether Fred Thompson's wife "works the pole" is sparking criticism of Scarborough from the right, left and in between.

A spokesman for the news network said this afternoon, though, that the comment has been taken out of context and that it is "irresponsible" to suggest Scarborough was employing sexual innuendo. "Works the pole" could have been a reference to poles that some strippers use in their acts. MSNBC says it was a reference to an exercise routine that a growing number of women are performing.

Questions about the appropriateness of what Scarborough said have been raised by, among others, conservative blogger/commentator Michelle Malkin. She has posted the video clip here and says "Scarborough owes Thompson and his wife an apology."

The South Carolina politics blog Palmetto Scoop, which other bloggers are crediting for picking up on Scarborough's comment, says this could be another "Imus moment" for MSNBC. (That would be a reference to Don Imus.)


The conservative Captain's Quarters is on the story too, and appears to have picked up on the sequence of events that MSNBC says put Scarborough's remark in context -- though Captain's Quarters' Ed Morrissey says it still doesn't excuse Scarborough completely.

He reports that one of his commenters says "the segment started off with the traffic and weather reporter, Tracy, talking about how she 'works the pole' for exercise to stay in shape. That topic continued for some time, and then Craig Crawford (contributing editor at CQ) came on, which is when Scarborough made this comment." (The banter: Scarborough asks Crawford, "Have you seen Fred Thompson's wife?" Crawford: "Oh yeah." Scarborough: "You think she works the pole?")

"That only mitigates it a little," Morrissey adds, "in that Scarborough may not have meant to insinuate that Jeri Thompson was a stripper, or worse. I'm still mystified why Scarborough thinks that Jeri's appearance requires some lecherous reference."

MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines says that pretty much explains what happened. "A female triathlete had been discussing her exercise routine with Joe," he said, and that routine includes a stripper's pole. "That is the context in which the issue was discussed. To suggest otherwise is irresponsible." When asked whether Jeri Kehn Thompson is owed an apology, Gaines declined to comment further.

Yes, as there was no good reason to trash Thompson's wife on national television, Morrissey's right on the money. And in no way does the "context" get Scarborough off the hook, even for a moment.

So, is Joe a shoe- in for the former Imus slot? For a moment, let's pretend NBC actually cares about MSNBC's future while we take this quick trip down memory lane:

In a particularly good example of Joe's sloppy prep work, he was duped by an Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonater who appeared on Howard Stern's show and advocated blowing up the moon in order to eliminate female PMS. This post remains one of the Radio Equalizer's all- time most popular, based on Google searches.

Joe has a history of sucking up to the mainstream media, to the point of doing a brainless "Is Bush An 'Idiot'?" segment on MSNBC's Scarborough Country. He followed it up with a silly HuffPo piece.

Especially fishy is Scarborough's past professional association with one of Air America Radio's founding boardmembers and hosts, infamous Florida trial lawyer Mike Papantonio. After Joe began to do "Pap's" bidding on MSNBC, he was scolded by the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz for the obvious breach of journalistic ethics.

Once Air America Radio was actually up and running, Scarborough seemed to take particular delight in throwing softball questions at its hosts, including Al Franken and Jerry Springer.

In another infamous example, Scarborough allowed Franken to push kooky conspiracy theories involving Vice President Dick Cheney.

While MSNBC seems determined to go for broke with an unsuccessful cable talk lineup, isn't there somebody inside NBC with the good sense to look for somebody better than sleazy, jerky Joe Scarborough? The talent pool can't possibly be this shallow.

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  • Why are the socialist left, Joe Scarborough and the blogging world drooling over the fact Fred has a younger wife??? FWIW, I really want to know! Also, where is the outrage over Joe Scarborough???

    Fred Thompson 2008

    By Blogger blogger, at 05 June, 2007 16:52  

  • While MSNBC seems determined to go for broke with an unsuccessful cable talk lineup


    olberman's ratings keep increasing every week, while falafel boy O'riley stays the same, every week, over and over.

    Lowest rated show on cable.......

    Glen "walking dick face" Beck

    Good for Joe, anyone with 1/10000th of a working brain has given up on these degenerate sick GOP freaks.
    Please do support Fred "lobbiest" Thompson!! Great choice!!!

    Unreal, cons are simply unreal, it is almost science fiction the amazing stupidity.....

    Why is Fred Thompson a good candidate?

    can you tell me?

    does he love the fetus more than the next con?

    is he more pro torture than the next guy?

    does he say 9-11 more than the next guy?

    What is it?
    Does he want to Bomb more muslims?
    Does he want to exterminate the queers?
    What gives him the edge?

    I need to know the inner working of a sociopath, excuse me I mean right winger

    another case of cons crawling to hollywood for a make believe hero....

    do cons have any confidence in themselves ? Why do you need a pretend president as in an actor?

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 05 June, 2007 17:00  

  • Fred Thompson was a Republican lobbyist for eighteen years, and Americans still fundamentally disapprove of older, unattractive, filthy-rich men robbing the cradle.

    Is America ready for an opportunistic sex kitten as First Lady and a presidential candidate ridden with incurable cancer, so soon after the wages of sin and dramatic demise of Anna Nicole Smith?

    I'm not sure....

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 05 June, 2007 18:08  

  • In order to get a woman in that kind of shape, a pasty fat waddling GOP redneck would have to pay for it. You meet the kind of women available for pay in places like pole dancing clubs. Simple. I can understand why the morbidly obese right is furious over being outed once again, but since you chose to be grotesque porkers in an effort to consume, literally inhale, everything that comes in your eyesight, then you need to deal with the fact that you are held in utter personal contempt by the entire world, who sees you as a metaphor for what America is now.

    By Blogger gregrocker, at 05 June, 2007 18:35  

  • This is what a real blogger Glenn Greenwald who has a hundred thousand readers a day, covers this story. Pay attention, now:

    Unlike, say, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards -- all of whom are still married to their first spouse -- Thompson divorced his wife (and the mother of his two children) after 25 years of marriage and then proceeded to marry a woman 25 years younger than he. And according to The Washington Post's Lloyd Grove in 2002:

    Fred Thompson and Jeri Kehn met six years ago on the Fourth of July in Nashville. Since then, the Republican senator and the GOP media operative have been romantic, rocky, stormy, passionate, hot and cold, but never lukewarm.

    "Hollywood Fred" -- as the divorced Thompson was nicknamed because of his successful movie career -- has been linked to a variety of women, including country singer Lorrie Morgan, pundit-pollster Kellyanne Fitzpatrick, Time magazine writer Margaret Carlson, Nathans restaurant owner Carol Joynt and Washington PR executive Sydney Ferguson.

    Grove continued:
    Now we're pleased to report that Kehn -- whom we've occasionally imagined strapped to a fighting chair on a metaphoric fishing boat, gripping her metaphoric rod and reel -- landed the big one Saturday. The 35-year-old Kehn and the 59-year-old Thompson were married at the First Congregational Church of Christ in the bride's home town of Naperville, Ill. Yesterday the newlyweds were bound for a week- long honeymoon on the French Riviera.
    In the very same show where Thompson was hailed as a "cultural conservative," Matthews continued his insatiable obsession with the Clintons' marriage, and one of his guests referred to "the incredible fascination that the American public has . . . on the private lives of the Clintons." Matthews, as he does on a virtually nightly basis, dredged it all up -- Gennifer Flowers; Kathleen Willey; the Weekly Standard cover story this week that "calls the Clintons 'a riveting saga of lust and ambition'"; "the women who want us to know about the relationships with Bill," and -- as Matthews put it -- the "pair of new books [which] exquisitely expose Bill and Hillary Clinton as a couple of soap opera characters."

    But Fred Thompson? Fineman: "He's got a strong record on cultural issues as a cultural conservative from the South." Matthews: "he fits the need for a Bible Belt candidate." And last week, Matthews provoked this exchange:

    MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about your party and the cultural right. I noticed that there is no cultural conservative southern Baptist type running this time. The president isn't quite in that category, but people are very comfortable with this president, in terms of his beliefs, his Christian beliefs, his cultural values. Is there a candidate out there now that shares the president's cultural values.

    KEN BLACKWELL, FMR OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: It seems as if Fred Thompson, who has yet to declare, is starting to build a momentum among social conservatives. But I will tell you --

    MATTHEWS: Well, he's from Tennessee. He's from the buckle of the bible belt. I believe he is Baptist. He fits. He is pro-life. He has been for many years. He fits all of the categories. There's nobody else like him.

    Beltway pundits are so easily fooled, because they are so eager to be. Their brains and emotional reactions -- and thereafter their political statements -- are dominated by these shallow and inauthentic symbols of masculinity and piety which overwhelm reality. They search so desperately for these attributes that they find two-dimensional cartoon images which are just archetypes -- really caricatures -- deeply satisfying.

    Thus, parading around in military costumes or excitedly talking about sending people to war is infinitely more important for showing "toughness" than actually doing anything that evinces toughness. Warning in a Southern drawl that God wants marriage to be between a man and a woman is infinitely more important for demonstrating one's "cultural conservatism" than the question of whether one's behavior is actually "culturally conservative."

    There is nothing in Fred Thompson's life that he has actually done that makes him "a tough guy" in the sense Fineman means it, nor is there anything that makes him a "cultural conservative." If anything, what his life actually is -- his behavior in reality -- seems to negate those characterizations.

    But the illusion of manliness cliches, tough guy poses, and empty gestures of "cultural conservatism" are what the Republican base seeks, and media simpletons like Fineman, Halperin and Matthews eat it all up just as hungrily. That's how twice-and-thrice-divorced and draft-avoiding individuals like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh become media symbols of the Christian "values voters" and "tough guy," "tough-on-defense" stalwarts.

    And it's how a life-long Beltway lobbyist and lawyer who avoided Vietnam, standing next to his twenty-five-years-younger second wife, is held up by our media stars as a Regular-Guy-Baptist symbol of piety and a no-nonsense, tough-guy, super-masculine warrior who will protect us all.

    UPDATE: Social-Christian conservative Fred Thompson, who believes in traditional marriage (he's "pro-traditional-marriage"), is pictured below with his current wife -- 25 years younger than he, 4 years younger than his own daughter -- after the 2006 White House Correspondent's Dinner:

    When explaining his profound and solemn opposition to same-sex marriages (he voted (a) for laws prohibiting same-sex marriages and (b) against laws banning discrimination against gays), Thompson said: "Marriage is between a man and a woman, and judges shouldn't be allowed to change that." According to The Politico's Mike Allen, this is what Thompson said earlier this year about his own life:

    During a question-and-answer session with House members on April 18, Thompson was asked about his colorful dating history from 1985 to 2002, while he was divorced.

    "I was single for a long time, and, yep, I chased a lot of women," Thompson replied, chuckling, according to an attendee who took notes. "And a lot of women chased me. And those that chased me tended to catch me."

    The remark drew laughter from men and grins from women, according to witnesses.

    It's always a great mystery how people who are on their second or third wives with children from each marriage can stand up with a straight face and proclaim themselves to be believers in "traditional marriage" and -- far worse -- to insist that the laws be structured so as to allow and endorse their own highly untraditional and un-Christian marriages while prohibiting other citizens from entering their own. And it's even more of a mystery that individuals such as Thompson are able to spout (though, with vigor, personally contravene in their own conduct) such platitudes and still be taken seriously.

    Then again, candidates who studiously avoided military service and have done nothing but dressed up in "tough-guy" costumes and smoked cigars in front of a camera can be -- and are -- hailed as "tough guys" by our media elite (while candidates with actual combat experience are derided as cowards and effiminate losers). Within that framework, it is easy to see how individuals like Fred Thompson (or Newt Gingrich, or Rush Limbaugh) are held up as the candidate of Christian piety, the defender of "traditional marriage," and the hero of the "values voters."

    [Just to be clear, the issue is not that there is anything wrong with second and third marriages or intra-couple large age differences -- I don't think there is -- but rather that such behavior is manifestly inconsistent with the so-called "traditional marriage values" which Thompson wants to exploit for political gain and impose in the form of law].

    By Blogger gregrocker, at 05 June, 2007 23:59  

  • I love to watch Republicans eating their own....

    By Blogger Corie, at 06 June, 2007 00:46  

  • Anyone that proud of pillowing half the South is just TELLING America they aim to do the same thing in office.

    His throwaways will talk. Loudly.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 06 June, 2007 01:50  

  • Corie,
    These days if a conservative is not willing to perform fellatio on Bush or Cheney then he is ostracized from the rest of the party and called liberal by hacks like Maloney.

    Those who are regular MSNBC watchers know Scarborough is a traditional conservative in the same mold as William F. Buckley, George Will, and Pat Buchanan to name a few.

    Why should there be outrage over a small joke? Certainly I heard my share of Hillary jokes while Clinton was president.

    Conservatives are hypocrites to the core.

    By Blogger elmonica, at 06 June, 2007 02:03  

  • I love reading all the liberal hate you lefties post. You are small, hypocritical people.

    Greg, I didn't realize you are one of Greenwald's sock puppets. Thought you took enough of a beating for that on Patterico's blog.

    By Blogger PCD, at 06 June, 2007 08:08  

  • Scarborough is now the enemy, because he like 80% of this nation is sick of Republican hypocracy

    PCD, your a mentally and functionally retarded idiot

    note: still not a single 28%er explained why Fred Thompson is so greeeeeaaaaaattttttttt!!!!!!!

    and now a message from your RNC masters

    "muslim extremism is dangerous, thety are comming to kill us, and your children 9-11 9-11 9-11, clintons fault 9-11 9-11 Muslims!! Muslims !!! terror!! terror!!"

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 06 June, 2007 10:47  

  • "TERROR!!" "TERROR"!

    Too funny, Minister!

    Something tells me "Jeri-Twirl" has the best divorce lawyer money can buy all lined up....

    And the Thompson Twins will get that interminible battle, Fredo 2's drawn-out terminal medical struggles, and the huge, epic Presidential funeral to thwart the lemmings while soldiers die, completely on the arm...the American taxpayers' arm, that is.

    Yep, watching the leader of the free world babble incoherently about his TV days, while a metastatic cancer, once freed, ravages his body, will do absolute WONDERS for our standing in the world.

    And so much will get done in Washington. Really.

    Joe Scarborough is SUCH a cad.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 06 June, 2007 16:34  

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