Interview: Morning Joe’s Willie Geist Talks Pat Buchanan’s ‘Thug Life’ Tattoo


Way funnier than this photo would lead you to believe.

Open-minded types that we are, we’re finding ourselves increasingly entertained by MSNBC’s Morning Joe, which we’ll nominate as the best show to breakfast by–it has a kind of looseness that TV needs more of, plus it’s actually aimed at adults. And our favorite within this favorite is Willie Geist, who co-hosts the program with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski (along with regular guests Mike Barnicle and Pat Buchanan). Willie may well be the most amusing man on morning television, so we thought we’d ask him a few questions about his early-a.m. cable life.

Is it our imagination, or is more alcohol consumed on your show than on most morning programs?

It is not your imagination. People assume there’s some FCC rule that says you can’t drink alcohol on television. Nonsense. No such rule exists. Actually we haven’t checked the rules, but there probably isn’t one, right? Anyway, thousands of drunk people are watching our show at 3 and 4 a.m. in some parts of the country. The least we can do is share an occasional drink with them.

Having to be awake and alert and on TV at 6 a.m. seems rather intimidating. What time do you have to go to bed and get up?

“Intimidating” isn’t the word. It’s unreasonable, unnatural, and probably unsafe. My alarm goes off at 4 a.m. For the first three minutes of the alarm, I assume it’s all part of a horrific dream I’m having. Then the painful reality of my life takes hold and I get in the shower, where it’s hard to distinguish the drops of water from the tears. I usually get to bed around 10 or 10:30 (i.e., whenever The Bachelor ends and the post-show online chat is over–my money’s on Jillian, by the way).

Morning Joe is a rather political program. How would you describe your own politics?

Since I’m not doing the political analysis around here, I keep my politics close to the vest. My two most recent jobs have been on shows hosted by conservatives, Tucker Carlson and Joe Scarborough, so people make assumptions about me. Those assumptions are not entirely accurate. All I’ll say is, Ron Paul was robbed.

If you could have the career of one steroid-using baseball player, who would you choose and why?

Jose Canseco. He’s the anti-Barry Bonds. Rather than splitting hairs about the steroids he took, Canseco writes books bragging about them and trashing his own legacy. I met Canseco in a nightclub in Miami a few years ago, just after he had left baseball. It was late and he was standing alone. He was wearing a mesh tank-top with nothing underneath it. I went up and told him enthusiastically that he should make a comeback so he could reach the 500-home-run milestone. His response was –and I’m paraphrasing here–“F*** you.” Instead of returning to baseball, Canseco joined the cast of The Surreal Life 5 where he traded barbs with Bronson Pinchot and Omarosa. If you’re going to be a disgraced cheater, you might as well have fun doing it.


Are there any guests you guys have had to ban from the show?

Not that I know of. If this were the UN Security Council though, and as a permanent host of the show I had a veto, I would ban Mike Barnicle. He’s a rotting albatross hanging around the neck of Morning Joe.

Off-camera and behind the scenes, which sit-com does the Morning Joe gang most resemble?

I wanted so badly to answer Small Wonder but I couldn’t make it fit. We have no robot-children on our show. Three’s Company would make sense since it has three co-stars, but then I think that would make me Janet. I’m not willing to concede that. I believe Family Ties is your answer. Joe is Alex P. Keaton, Mika is Mallory, and I am Tina Yothers. Alex and Mallory see the world differently and they have their arguments, but they always look out for each other. Yothers is the precocious younger sibling. She’s the voice of reason. And she fights a constant battle with her weight.

Tell us something about Pat Buchanan that we don’t already know.

Pat has a “Thug Life” tattoo across his stomach. He hasn’t been the same since we lost Tupac. Another secret? If you talk in private to Upper West Side lefties who pray five times a day in the direction of Barack Obama’s birthplace of Honolulu, they’ll confess that they’ve come to love Pat Buchanan. They hate themselves for it, but they love Pat.

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