Joe Scarborough

Joe Scarborough
Joe Scarborough
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1995 – September 5, 2001
Preceded by Earl Hutto
Succeeded by Jeff Miller
Personal details
Born April 9, 1963 (1963-04-09) (age 48)
Atlanta, Georgia
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Melanie Hinton (div.)
Susan Waren
Alma mater University of Alabama,
University of Florida Levin College of Law
Profession Attorney, currently television host
Religion Baptist

Charles Joseph "Joe" Scarborough (play /ˈskɑrbɔr/; born April 9, 1963) is an American cable news and talk radio host, lawyer, author, and former politician. He is currently the host of Morning Joe on MSNBC, and previously hosted Scarborough Country on the same channel. Scarborough served in the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001 as a Republican from the 1st district of Florida.


Early life, education and early legal career

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, he was born to George F. Scarborough, a businessman, with two other siblings. When his father died in May 2011, his life story ended up in the Congressional Record and in Politico's Playbook. Joe even wrote an eulogy op-ed online.[1]

Joe Scarborough graduated from Pensacola Catholic High School in Pensacola, Florida (although he is not a Catholic). He received a B.A. from the University of Alabama in 1985 and a J.D. from the University of Florida College of Law in 1990.[2] During this time he wrote and produced CDs with his band, Dixon Mills,[3] and taught high school. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1991,[2] and practiced law in Pensacola.[4]

Scarborough's most famous case was representing Michael F. Griffin, the accused killer of abortion doctor David Gunn, in early to mid 1993. He made several court appearances for Griffin.[5] "There was 'no way in hell I could sit in at a civil trial, let alone a capital trial,' he claims now, referring to the prospect of prosecutors seeking the death penalty against Griffin."[6] Scarborough assisted Griffin in choosing a trial lawyer from the many who offered their services, and he also shielded the family from the media exposure, pro bono.[7] Scarborough's connection to Griffin was unsuccessfully used by Democrats during his 1994 congressional run to paint him as an extremist.[citation needed]

Scarborough also helped to raise his political profile and made numerous contacts by assisting with a petition drive in late 1993 to oppose a 65 percent[dubious ] increase in the City of Pensacola's property taxes.[4]

Political career


Joe Scarborough's official Congressional portrait

In 1994, Scarborough won a tough Republican Party primary for Florida's 1st congressional district, which came open after eight-term Democrat Earl Hutto announced his retirement. In the general election, he defeated the Democratic candidate, Pensacola attorney Vinnie Whibbs, (the son of well respected former Pensacola mayor Vince Whibbs), with 61 percent of the vote. This win wasn't considered an upset since the 1st has always been a rather conservative district; it hasn't supported a Democrat for president since 1960 and, while Democrats continued to win most local offices well into the 1990s, they tended to be very conservative even by Southern Democratic standards. It had been considered very likely that Hutto would be succeeded by a Republican once he retired.

Scarborough was reelected with 72 percent of the vote in 1996. In 1998 and 2000, he was opposed by only a write-in candidate.

Like most freshmen Republicans elected during the 1994 Republican takeover of the House led by Newt Gingrich, Scarborough was regarded as a reliable conservative. He was a part of a small group of Republican congressmen the National Journal said possessed a surprising amount of power given their youth and lack of experience in Congress. He received a 95 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union.[8] He signed the Contract with America. Scarborough served on the Armed Services, Judiciary, Government Reform, and Education committees. In 1998, he was named Chairman of the Civil Service Committee.

Scarborough was one of a group of about 40 freshmen Republican legislators who dubbed themselves the "New Federalists" after the Federalist Papers. Scarborough was elected Political Director of the incoming legislators. The New Federalists called for sweeping cuts in the U.S. government, including plans to "privatize, localize, consolidate, [or] eliminate"[9] the Departments of Commerce, Education, Energy and Housing and Urban Development, but were largely unsuccessful in their goals. Gingrich tapped Scarborough to head a Republican task force on education, and Scarborough declared, "Our goal is to get as much money, power and authority out of Washington and get as much money, power and authority into the classroom as possible."[4]

Scarborough supported a number of pro-life positions while in Congress including legislation (H.R.2436, Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 1999) that made it a crime to harm a fetus during the commission of other crimes, though he did not vote for the passage of the final bill.[10][11]

Scarborough sponsored a bill to force the U.S. to withdraw from the United Nations after a four-year transition[9] and voted to make the Corporation for Public Broadcasting "self-sufficient"[12] by eliminating federal funding. He also voted for the "Medicare Preservation act of 1995,"[13] which cut the projected growth of Medicare by $270 billion over ten years, and against the "Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996,"[14] which raised the minimum wage to $5.15. Scarborough had a conservative voting record on economic, social, and foreign policy issues, but was seen as moderate on environmental issues and human rights causes (including closing the School of the Americas and Lori Berenson).[4]

[US Congressman Joe Scarborough] heard about Lori Berenson on an NPR broadcast. He went to Peru and spent a day at her second trial. He watched the prosecutors and the judges working together, heard the evidence and decided that she had done nothing that would have convicted her in a U.S. court. Even a repentant terrorist, who was to have been the strongest witness, said Berenson was not a member of MRTA and gave no help at all. Scarborough thought the court had to conclude she was not a terrorist leader.[15]

While in Congress, Scarborough received a number of awards, including the "Friend of the Taxpayer Award" from Americans for Tax Reform; the "Guardian of Small Business Award" from the National Federation of Independent Business; the "Spirit of Enterprise Award" from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; the "Taxpayer's Hero Award" from the Citizens Against Government Waste; and the "Guardian of Seniors' Rights Award" from the 60 Plus Association.

Committee memberships

Resignation and controversy

Scarborough announced his intent to resign to spend more time with his children five months into his fourth term in Congress. "The realization has come home to me that they're at a critical stage of their lives and I would rather be judged at the end of my life as a father than as a congressman," Scarborough said.[20] A special election was held to replace him.

On July 20, 2001, one of Scarborough's aides died after hitting her head on a desk when she fainted while alone in Scarborough's Fort Walton Beach, Florida, office.[21] According to Scarborough, soon after her death, allegations "spread all over the Internet" that he had been involved,[21][22] although there was no evidence of foul play. In 2003, he joked about the incident with Don Imus on Imus's radio program.[23] In 2004, it was the subject of a public spat between Scarborough and filmmaker Michael Moore.[24]

Post-Congressional politics

After leaving Congress, he joined the law firm of prominent Florida attorney Fred Levin. He practiced law with the firm Beggs and Lane,[25] the oldest firm in Florida. He was appointed to the President's Council on the 21st Century Workforce in 2002.[26]

In August 2005, Scarborough confirmed reports that he had been asked to consider a challenge to U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris for the Republican nomination to challenge Senator Bill Nelson's reelection bid. However, he announced later that month that he was renewing his contract with NBC.[27]

In July 2006, former aides to Harris's 2006 Senate campaign claimed that Harris had called potential Scarborough supporters and raised the death of an aide in his home district office as a means to prevent his entry into the race.[28] Scarborough, who had never intended to enter the race, initially considered suing Harris but decided to let the incident pass. He later told Nelson that drawing Harris as an opponent in the race made Nelson "the luckiest man in Washington."[29]

In early 2009, Scarborough confirmed reports that he had been approached by Florida Republicans who wanted him to run for the Senate seat vacated by Republican Mel Martinez. Scarborough said he was not likely to run as he believes he can have more influence over public policy as the host of Morning Joe, than he would as a U.S. Senator. However, he has not ruled out a political career in the future.[30]

In October 2010, Scarborough called former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich "cartoonish" and said that Gingrich engages in "hate speech."[31]

Media career

Scarborough is the host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, which features interviews with top newsmakers and politicians and analysis of the day’s biggest stories. Previously, he hosted Scarborough Country, a primetime news show. He and Mika Brzezinski also briefly hosted a syndicated talk radio show called the Joe Scarborough Show on ABC Radio Network.

While still serving in Congress, Scarborough founded the free weekly Pensacola-area newspaper The Florida Sun in 1999. The paper later merged in 2001 and is now known as the "Independent News."[32]

In April 2003, he embarked upon a television career with the launch of Scarborough Country on MSNBC, until he began hosting Morning Joe full-time.

Scarborough briefly hosted a three-hour radio show in 2005. The show aired in a competitive time slot (10am–1pm US ET) and struggled to gain affiliates; those few that did carry the show usually carried it in the noon–3pm US ET slot or in late nights instead. After a few months, Scarborough left the show to focus his time on other priorities. (After being vacant for over a year, the slot was filled by Dennis Miller's radio show in 2007.)

Morning Joe

In May, 2007, Scarborough became one of the rotating hosts auditioning for the slot vacated by Imus in the Morning on MSNBC, as host of Morning Joe. Scarborough, with his morning show, won the slot permanently in July 2007. According to Nielsen Ratings, Morning Joe generally comes in third to Fox and Friends and American Morning, though a recent Washington Whispers article noted that Morning Joe had reached a viewership of 547,000 viewers, 16 times the audience held by Don Imus at his peak.[33] He has also appeared on other MSNBC shows as a commentator or panelist, primarily Hardball with Chris Matthews and Race for the White House.

On November 10, 2008, Scarborough made headlines when he said the word "fuck" live on his show. In discussing Barack Obama's transition team, Scarborough contrasted the reputation of Clinton-era staffers with Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel by saying "These were decent steady men who don't go around flipping people off or screaming 'fuck you' at the top of their lungs." The comment was not bleeped out, and while Scarborough's guests and cohosts reacted with shock and amusement, he continued with his point, apparently oblivious to what he had said, until co-host Mika Brzezinski broke in and informed him of his mistake. Scarborough apologized, saying that he thought he had only "said the letter, not the word" and commented that "my wife's going to kill me."[34] Glenn Greenwald criticized him for hypocrisy in light of his demands on several occasions that the Federal Communications Commission impose heavy fines for use of the word.[35] Morning Joe has subsequently been broadcast with a 7-second broadcast delay.[36]

MSNBC suspended Scarborough without pay for two days on November 19, 2010, for violating NBC News' policy against making contributions to political candidates, the same offense that had briefly sidelined fellow MSNBC host Keith Olbermann two weeks earlier. Scarborough had donated $4,000 to Republican candidates in Florida. He was allowed to return to Morning Joe on November 24.[37]


On December 8, 2008, Scarborough and Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski began hosting a two-hour late-morning radio show on WABC (770 AM) in New York City, replacing 12-year veteran host John Gambling.[38][39][40] As of April 26, 2010, the radio show has been put on "hiatus" to redevelop its format into a new three hour show.[41] Many, including Don Imus, have speculated that the show has actually been canceled by Citadel Media. It has been noted that the schedule of WABC would not allow for the program to be expanded an additional hour.


In his book The Last Best Hope, released on June 9, 2009, Scarborough outlines a plan to help guide conservatives back to a political majority after their defeats in the 2006 midterm elections and the 2008 Presidential election.

Personal life

In 1986, Scarborough married Melanie Hinton. They had two sons, Joey and Andrew,[42] and divorced in 1999. His younger child was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. While interviewing Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., in June 2005, Scarborough expressed concerns about the possibility that one of his sons may have suffered vaccine damage, perhaps attributable to the sharp increase during the 1980s in the amount of thimerosal injected into infants: "My son, born in 1991, has a slight form of autism called Asperger's. When I was practicing law and also when I was in Congress, parents would constantly come to me and they would bring me videotapes of their children, and they were all around the age of my son or younger. So, something happened in 1989."[43]

In October 2001, Scarborough married Susan Waren, a former aide to Florida Governor Jeb Bush and a former congressional committee staffer. He currently rents a home in Washington, D.C.

Scarborough is an avid soccer fan. As mentioned on ESPN's "Off The Ball" podcast, Scarborough details his dedication to Liverpool FC, a soccer team that competes in the Barclays Premier League in England.


  1. ^ "Opinion: Eulogy for Dad - Joe Scarborough". Politico.Com. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  2. ^ a b "Scarborough, Charles Joseph". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 2006-03-18. 
  3. ^ liner notes "Dixon Mills" CD 1992 SRS records Inc.
  4. ^ a b c d Michael Barone, Richard E. Cohen, The Almanac of American Politics, National Journal Press, 2002, pages 374–76.
  5. ^ Berke, Richard L. "The 1994 Campaign: The South", "The New York Times, October 24, 1994.
  6. ^ Barrett, Wayne." "Bruise Brother" The Village Voice, April 1, 2008.
  7. ^ Griffin, Laura. "Area lawyer hired in clinic killing", St. Petersburg Times, April 13, 1993; Kaczor, Bill "Abortion an Unmentionable Issue in District Hit by Anti-Abortion Violence", Associated Press, November 2, 1994
  8. ^ 2000 U.S. House Ratings[dead link]
  9. ^ a b Shoop, Tom (1995-05-01). "Not Dead Yet (5/1/95) -". Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  10. ^ "Bill Summary & Status - 106th Congress (1999 - 2000) - H.R.2436 - All Congressional Actions - THOMAS (Library of Congress)". Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ (pdf)
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Mary McGrory (2001-07-01). "Captive Parents". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  16. ^ Designating Majority Membership on Certain Standing Committees of the House (House of Representatives — January 04, 1995)
  17. ^ Election of Majority Members to Certain Standing Committees of the House (House of Representatives — January 07, 1997); Election of Majority Members to Certain Standing Committees of the House (House of Representatives — January 09, 1997); Election of Majority Members to Certain Standing Committees of the House (House of Representatives — January 21, 1997)
  18. ^ Election of Majority Members to Certain Standing Committees of the House — (House of Representatives — January 06, 1999); Election of Majority Members to Certain Standing Committees of the House — (House of Representatives — March 11, 1999)
  19. ^ Election of Members to Certain Standing Committees of the House — (House of Representatives — January 06, 2001)
  20. ^ Kaczor, Bill "U.S. Rep Scarborough to resign", "The Florida Times-Union", May 21, 2001.
  21. ^ a b Wright, Denis and George, Chris. "A Death in the Congressman's Office", "American Politics Journal", August 8, 2001.
  22. ^ Lisa Osburn, "Scarborough ready to get back home", Pensacola News Journal, September 6, 2001.
  23. ^ James Wolcott, "MSNBC's fox hunt: management and marketing strategies", Vanity Fair 518 (October 2003): 140(5)
  24. ^ Judy Bachrach. "Moore's War", Vanity Fair (March 2005): 240; Scarborough Country, June 14, 2004 [1],
  25. ^ Charles Joseph Scarborough[dead link]
  26. ^ "Members Of President's Council on the 21st Century Workforce Announced Council To Provide Information, Advice To The President On 21st Century Workforce Issues [03/21/2002]". Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  27. ^ "'Scarborough Country' for March 9 - Morning Joe -". MSNBC. 2006-10-03. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  28. ^ "Story of 'Joe's dead intern' began Harris's slide, insiders say", Miami Herald, July 14, 2006
  29. ^ "Harris' Attack on TV Pundit Started Campaign Slide, Insiders Say". The Miami Herald. July 14, 2006. Retrieved 2008-06-06. 
  30. ^ Jeremy Wallace (2009-02-09). "Morning Joe or Sen. Joe". Sarasota Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2009-02-09. 
  31. ^ Scarborough, Joe (2010-10-12). "Gingrich's rhetoric will backfire". Politico. Retrieved 2010-10-15. 
  32. ^ "Independent News". Pensapedia. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  33. ^ "Scarborough's Morning Joe Is Hotter Than Imus". 2008-11-09. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  34. ^ Rovzar, Chris. "Joe Scarborough Drops the F-Bomb on Air - Daily Intel". Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  35. ^ Greenwald, Glenn (November 10, 2008). "Joe Scarborough: Hoisted by his own sanctimonious petard". Salon. 
  36. ^ "MSNBC host now guarded by 7-second delay". Associated Press. Fox News. 12 November 2008.,4675,MSNBCTapeDelay,00.html. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  37. ^ "MSNBC Suspends ‘Morning Joe’ Host Scarborough for Political Donations" Wall Street Journal November 19, 2010
  38. ^ "Joe Scarborough & Mika Brzezinski Begin Radio Show Monday". TV Newser. December 5, 2008. 
  39. ^ Stelter, Brian (December 5, 2008). "TV Decoder: 'Morning Joe' Hosts Add Radio to Routine". The New York Times. 
  40. ^ "Tom Brokaw is Joe & Mika's First Radio Guest". TV Newser. December 8, 2008. 
  41. ^ Hinckley, David (April 26, 2010). "Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski take 'brief hiatus' from radio show to develop new program". Daily News (New York). 
  42. ^ "CNN 1998 Election Biography". 1963-04-09. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  43. ^ "A coverup for a cause of Autism? - Morning Joe -". MSNBC. 2005-06-22. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Earl Hutto
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Jeff Miller

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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