As President Joe Biden gears up for a re-election rematch against former president Donald Trump, he’ll be highlighting significant differences between himself and the man he defeated and evicted from the White House four years ago.
But there’s one thing Mr Biden and Mr Trump definitely have in common: a television diet that includes long-running MSNBC programme Morning Joe.
According to Axios, Mr Biden’s top aides often appear during the four-hour show’s second hour, between 7.00 am and 7.40 am, in hopes of catching the president’s eye.
Mr Biden also reportedly frequently calls on the show’s namesake host, former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough, to use him as a sounding board and complain about media coverage of his administration.
Scarborough and his co-host (and wife since 2018), veteran broadcast journalist Mika Brzezinski, are also favourites of Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, who hosted them at the VP’s official residence for dinner last month.
Brzezinski, who is the daughter of the late Carter administration national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, was also spotted at the White House by The Independent last month when she visited to tape an interview with First Lady Jill Biden.
Yet it’s not just the co-hosts of the popular cable morning show who enjoy frequent access to the president and those around him. Mr Biden also frequently calls on recurring guests on the show for counsel and advice.
One such guest, historian Jon Meacham, had to give up a contract as a paid MSNBC contributor in late 2020 after it became known that he was consulting with Mr Biden to help craft the victory speech the then-president-elect delivered after he defeated Mr Trump in that year’s presidential election.
The crossover between the MSNBC programme and the Biden White House is a mirror image of how Mr Trump’s White House staff — and others looking to put messages in his ear — used competing programme Fox and Friends for the same purpose, knowing that Mr Trump, a rapacious television viewer, had the Fox News day-opener on in the White House residence each morning.
Mr Trump also had a habit of calling on Fox guests and hosts to ask for their takes on the issues of the day.
But despite his love for Fox and Friends, which included frequent guest appearances via phone interviews and even a madcap interview at Fox’s camera position on the White House’s north lawn (followed by an even more chaotic gaggle with the White House press corps), Mr Trump was also a frequent consumer of the MSNBC programme favoured by Mr Biden.
During the run-up to the 2016 election, he was a more-than-occasional guest on the show until Scarborough and Brzezinski became more critical of the then-reality television host turned politician.
He frequently rage-tweeted about the programme, calling Scarborough “psycho” in posts to his then-active Twitter account, and on more than one occasion accused the ex-Florida congressman of having murdered a staffer, Lori Klausutis, who was found dead in his Florida district office in 2001.
According to police documents, an autopsy found the 28-year-old died from the effects of a previously-unknown heart condition. At the time, Scarborough was in Washington, hundreds of miles away.
Klausutis’ widower, Timothy Klausutis, later accused the then-president of having “has taken something that does not belong to him – the memory of my dead wife – and perverted it for perceived political gain” in an open letter to then-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
Mr Trump also took aim Brzezinski after she criticised him by attacking her in graphic terms in a June 2017 tweet calling her “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and claiming that she had been “bleeding badly from a face-lift” during a social event at his Mar-a-Lago club.
Brzezinski later recalled during an appearance on The Daily Beast’s The New Abnormal podcast that she’d gone to Mr Trump’s Florida home at his request following a “chin-tuck” procedure, and found herself discussing it with Mr Trump’s wife, Melania Trump.
“I’m talking to Melania about it, woman to woman, then Donald came up and said, ‘You know, Melania has had no work done. She’s perfect.‘’ I’m like, ‘That’s great,” she said.