On Wednesday, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” host MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski used a homophobic slur to describe Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calling him a “wannabe dictator’s butt boy.”
Brzezinski and co-host Joe Scarborough were discussing Pompeo’s reaction on “Fox & Friends” to the murder of Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Pompeo had not condemned Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his reputed involvement in the murder, saying, “Look, we all know that they’re still working on this. This is still a developing set of facts with respect to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The intelligence community is working diligently on that … The direct evidence, this is what I’ve said before, the direct evidence isn’t yet available. It may show up tomorrow. It may have shown up overnight and I haven’t seen it.”
Brzezinski remarked, “I understand that Donald Trump doesn’t care … But why doesn’t Mike Pompeo care right now? Are the pathetic deflections that we just heard when he appeared on ‘Fox & Friends’ — is that a patriot speaking? Or a wannabe dictator’s butt boy? I’m dead serious. I’m asking: Are these the words of a patriot?”
In the closed captioning of Brzezinski’s remarks, MSNBC did not transcribe it:
There was condemnation of Brzezinski’s remarks on Twitter; one leftist critic stated, "I was with you, @morningmika, right up to the 'butt boy' comment. Try 'toadie' or 'lackey' or 'stool pigeon' or 'ass kisser,' or 'traitor,' but maybe don’t equate homosexuality with Mike Pompeo carrying water for the murderous regime in Saudi Arabia."
There was other criticism from the Left, as Glenn Greenwald was furious, tweeting, “Homophobic insults of the kind vomited out this morning by @morningmika have become a completely common and acceptable component of anti-Trump discourse, starting from the endless Trump/Putin gay insinuations to trash like this.”
There was criticism from the Right; Donald Trump Jr. tweeted, “This is disgusting! How can @KevinHart4real essentially be forced to lose his Oscar’s gig for comments he made years ago as a comedian, but Mika can make a seriously homophobic slur on a major news station, have the network try to cover it up & its not an issue? Give me a break!”
Brzezinski then apologized, writing, “Totally agree with you -SUPER BAD choice of words. I should have said 'water boy' . . . like for football teams or something like that.. apologize to @SenatorDurbin too! SO SORRY!”
On Thursday morning, Brzezinski took the day off from hosting “Morning Joe.” Scarborough, who is also her husband, explained, “Mika has the day off with her family — a long-planned family event, which she’s sorry she’s not here because we are going to be talking about baseball most of the morning. She’ll be back with us tomorrow.”
Khashoggi was murdered on October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Saudi Arabia's foreign minister called it a "rogue operation.” Members of the CIA concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder; the Trump administration has not agreed with that assessment, saying there was no direct evidence linking the crown prince to Khashoggi's assassination. Khashoggi was a foe of the crown prince’s.