Joe Scarborough

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Joe Scarborough
Scarborough Joe -MBFI 2013 fRF 01.jpg
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 Charles Joseph Scarborough
(1963-04-09) April 9, 1963 (age 55)
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Melanie Hinton (1986–1999)
Susan Waren (2001–2013)
Alma mater University of Alabama
University of Florida
Religion Baptist

Charles Joseph "Joe" Scarborough (/ˈskɑːrbɔːr/; born April 9, 1963) is an American cable news and talk radio host, lawyer, author, and former politician. He is currently the co-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. He was named in the 2011 Time 100 as one of the most influential people in the world.[1]

Early life, education and early legal career

Scarborough was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Mary Joanna (née Clark) and George Francis Scarborough, a businessman; he has two siblings.[2] When his father died in May 2011, his life story appeared in the Congressional Record and in Politico's Playbook. Scarborough wrote a eulogy op-ed online.[3]

Joe Scarborough graduated from Pensacola Catholic High School in Pensacola, Florida. He earned a B.A. from the University of Alabama in 1985 and a J.D. from the University of Florida College of Law in 1990.[4] During this time he wrote music and produced CDs with his band, Dixon Mills,[5] and taught high school. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1991,[4] and practiced law in Pensacola.[6]

Scarborough's most high profile case was briefly representing anti-abortionist Michael F. Griffin,[7][8][9] the accused killer of doctor David Gunn, in 1993. He made several court appearances representing Griffin, before removing himself from the case,[10] later saying: "There was no way in hell I could sit in at a civil trial, let alone a capital trial", referring to the prospect of prosecutors seeking the death penalty against Griffin.[11] Scarborough assisted Griffin in choosing other counsel from the many who offered their services, however, and helped shield the family from the media exposure, pro bono.[12]

Scarborough's political profile was also raised when he assisted with a petition drive, in late 1993, opposing a proposed 65-percent increase in the City of Pensacola's property taxes.[6]

Political career


File:Joe congress.jpg
Scarborough in 1994

In 1994, Scarborough won the Republican Party primary for Florida's 1st congressional district. Eight-term Democratic incumbent Earl Hutto announced his retirement. In the general election Scarborough defeated the Democratic candidate, Pensacola attorney Vinnie Whibbs, with 61 percent of the vote, becoming the first Republican to represent this part of Florida since Reconstruction. Whibbs was the son of former Pensacola mayor Vince Whibbs. The district had not supported a Democratic candidate for U.S. president since 1960. However, Democratic candidates had continued to hold most local offices well into the 1990s. Scarborough's win, however, coincided with a massive Republican wave that swept through the Florida Panhandle. Republicans swept nearly all of the region's seats in the state legislature, and have held them ever since.

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

He received a 95 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union.[13] 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.[citation needed]

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"[14] the Departments of Commerce, Education, Energy and Housing and Urban Development. 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."[6] Rep. John Kasich (R-Ohio), then Chairman of the House Budget Committee, adopted Scarborough's language eliminating the federal Department of Education in the 1996 House Budget Resolution.[15] The budget passed the House by a vote of 238–193.[16]

Scarborough supported a number of pro-life positions while in Congress, including the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, that made it a crime to harm a fetus during the commission of other crimes.[17][18]

Scarborough sponsored a bill to force the U.S. to withdraw from the United Nations after a four-year transition[14] and voted to make the Corporation for Public Broadcasting self-sufficient[19] by eliminating federal funding. He also voted for the "Medicare Preservation act of 1995,"[20] which cut the projected growth of Medicare by $270 billion over ten years, and against the "Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996,"[21] 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.[6]

(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.[22]

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.[citation needed]

Committee memberships

Electoral history

Florida's 1st congressional district: Results 1994–2000[27]
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
1994 Vince Whibbs 70,416 38% Joe Scarborough 112,974 62%
1996 Kevin Beck 66,495 27% Joe Scarborough 175,946 73%
1998 Tom Wells (Write In) 663 0% Joe Scarborough 140,525 100%
2000 Unopposed N/A 0% Joe Scarborough 226,473 100%


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.[28] A special election was held to replace him.

Post-Congressional politics

After leaving Congress, he joined the Levin Papantonio Law Firm as an environmental lawyer,[29] which law firm is headed by the controversial and prominent trial lawyer Fred Levin.[30] He practiced law with the firm Beggs and Lane,[31] the oldest firm in Florida. He was appointed to the President's Council on the 21st Century Workforce in 2002.[32]

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.[33]

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.[34] 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."[35]

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 as a U.S. Senator. However, he has not ruled out a political career in the future.[36]

Media career

Scarborough circa 2008

Scarborough is the co-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."[37]

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.

Morning Joe

In May 2007, Scarborough became one of the rotating hosts auditioning for the slot vacated by Imus in the Morning on MSNBC. Scarborough, with his morning show, won the slot permanently in July 2007. According to Nielsen Ratings, Morning Joe consistently ranks 3rd.[38] Scarborough also is a regular guest on NBC news programs, MSNBC news programs, and has appeared on Meet the Press numerous times. In April 2012, Scarborough guest hosted Meet the Press.[39]

On November 10, 2008, Scarborough made headlines when he said "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 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."[40] Morning Joe has subsequently been broadcast with a seven-second broadcast delay.[41]

MSNBC suspended Scarborough without pay for two days on November 19, 2010, for violating NBC News' policy against making contributions to political candidates without prior notification and approval, two weeks after NBC suspended then MSNBC host Keith Olbermann for the same offense. Scarborough had donated $4,000 to Republican candidates in Florida.[42]

On July 23, 2012, Joe Scarborough speculated on The Morning Joe that James Eagan Holmes, the perpetrator of the 2012 Aurora shooting, could be on the autism spectrum. The National Autistic Advocacy Organization expressed "deep concern" over Scarborough's comment.[43] Scarborough made a number of comments in support of gun control on his show and in other media outlets after the December 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, shootings.[citation needed]

On Monday, February 10, 2014, Scarborough said New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had become a "distraction" to the Republican Governors Association. Christie chairs the influential group of Republican governors.[44]


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.[45][46][47] As of April 26, 2010, the radio show has been put on "hiatus" to redevelop its format into a new three-hour show.[48]


Scarborough released his first book, Rome Wasn’t Burnt in a Day: the Real Deal on how Politicians, Bureaucrats, and other Washington Barbarians are Bankrupting America,[49] on October 4, 2005.

In his second book, The Last Best Hope,[50] 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.

On November 12, 2013, Scarborough released his third book, The Right Path: From Ike to Reagan, How Republicans Once Mastered Politics – and Can Again.[51]

Personal life

In 1986, Scarborough married Melanie Hinton. They had two sons[52] and divorced in 1999. 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: "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."[53]

In October 2001, Scarborough married his second wife, Susan Waren, a former aide to Florida Governor Jeb Bush and a former congressional committee staffer. Their daughter was born in August 2003; their son was born in May 2008. Scarborough and Waren were divorced in January 2013.[54]


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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