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Did Mika Brzezinski Go From Political Commentator To Target?

MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski talks being verbally attacked by President Trump, women being sexual harassed, working with her fiance and embracing awkward.

photo courtesy of Marie Claire/Miller Hawkins

Our friends over at MarieClaire.com features an in-depth new profile on MSNBC co-host Mika Brzezinski. The piece examines how, after celebrating 10 years on the air, the “Morning Joe” co-host is finding her footing in a new political world – one in which she’s not just a commentator but a target.

On experiencing moments of incredulity every day:

“This is the most absurd presidency. I think we used to joke around a lot more on the show, we used to have a lot more fun. Now it’s like, Oh my God, what I just said was not a laugh line. It’s the news.

On how the show has changed since it launched in April 2007, as the Bush administration was winding down and the Democratic race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was heating up:

“The only thing that’s changed is the presidency. The conversation has changed, because I think we are in a much more dangerous place than we ever thought we’d be, domestically and in terms of our place in the world. It makes the conversation a lot more serious. … Instead of going through the basics like any other newscast—where you explain the nuts and bolts of what’s happened—in this presidency, you need the prognostication. People really want to know what’s going to happen.”

On whether her working dynamic with co-host and fiancé Joe Scarborough has shifted since confirming long-simmering rumors about their off-screen relationship:

“I urge all your readers not to try this at home! Having said that, we really like being together. It is the joy of my life. …I feel really lucky to live and work with someone I love so much. It’s not like anybody on the set talks about it. We all really like each other and we all consider ourselves part of a family and it is the most congenial, fun, accepting environment. And the whole thing has been organic and certainly does not feel difficult in any way.”

On the one aspect of Donald Trump’s presidency that divides her and Joe:

“Joe has hope. He wakes up every morning knowing that the system will correct itself and the republic will be okay, and that what we have is a system of checks and balances. I am a lot more gloom and doom. I get really upset, and I feel that this president is going to do terrible damage to this country.”

On how growing up in Washington during her father Zbigniew Brzezinksi’s tenure under the Carter administration gave her an understanding and respect for the political process:

“I got a real sense of how much work went into being a part of the Washington process. Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, these people work hard. When our conversations on ‘Morning Joe’ get critical, I have to remember that these people are all putting themselves out there for our country, and they love this country. I didn’t realize how comforting that was until now, when you really don’t feel that this president or his family is putting the country before their own interests. It’s a scary feeling. I’ve never seen that before in my life. I know what politicians look like, sound like, and how hard they work. This is something very different.”

On how the “Morning Joe” opportunity came up, after roles at ABC’s “World News This Morning, CBS and MSNBC:

“‘Morning Joe,’ I guess, was something I stumbled into. I was jobless and I took a freelance job at MSNBC, doing cut-ins during the evening and late at night. [Joe and I] bumped into each other in the hallway and I instantly insulted him, which made him think I would be a good co-host on the show. The rest is history.”

On the dark, challenging moments on the show, including on Nov. 9, 2016:

“The days leading up to the election were already very trying, because everybody thought Hillary was going to win, but we had been warning people that Trump could. We were like, ‘No, we’re trying to tell you that there is a swath of the country that feels disenfranchised, and is hurting, and Trump is touching them. He’s reaching them in a way that Hillary’s not.’ She was the worst person in the world to run against Donald Trump. Had we had a Biden, had we had a Bernie, they would have beat him. … The morning-after show was hard to balance, because we had a live audience which we don’t usually do, and…it was hard to find the words, and that’s not usually hard for us. I walked out there and just felt like I was walking on Mars.”

On remaining unfazed by Trump’s personal and vicious attack against her on Twitter in June, claiming that she “was bleeding badly from a face-lift”:

“Are you kidding me? Bleeding from a facelift… What? It’s deranged. I will tell you, the month after it happened I got mobbed in the streets by people saying ‘I am so sorry.’ Everyone’s coming up to me, they’re hugging me, and I say, ‘Yes, he was a great man, my father,’ and they’re like, ‘No! The President’s tweets!’ I really don’t care if he wants to say that I look…whatever. I’m worried that he’s doing it! … It’s some strange sexual thing.”

On how women can feel empowered in this era when an alleged sexual predator is in the highest office and sexual harassment remains endemic in workplaces nationwide:

“I’ve had examples, lately, where someone has touched me a little inappropriately, and I’m just like, ‘What are you doing? That’s a no.’ … We’re in a day and age where it is okay to say, ‘That’s not okay.’ There are situations where you need to go to HR, and you shouldn’t think twice about doing that. You can also communicate directly to the person that it’s a no. I’ve done it, and I feel that women have more freedom to do that now—we just need to know that we do.”

On embracing awkwardness:

“I love awkward! I think awkward is really powerful, and I think women tend to think awkward is weak. If you’re making a presentation, if you’re trying to accomplish something in the room with a boss, or make a deal, it’s much more effective to slow down the pace of your talking. Let what you’re saying hang a little bit. … Our job sometimes is to leave things a little bit uncomfortable. The most awkward moment in a negotiation can be a winning moment.”

On her own negotiation to ask for more days off:

“I’ve been really tired since I lost my dad, and sent two kids off to college, and dealt with this presidency. We’re just trying to keep up with it all. I don’t know about ten more years—I’m just happy to be here another day.”