Hearne: The Little Known Fall From Grace of MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’

I watch a lot of politics on television…

That includes nearly all of the many Republican Presidential Debates. So it’s not like I’m completely clued out (though some might disagree). For example, I can practically recite every one of Michele Bachmann‘s many gaffes. I even just spelled her oddly-lettered name correctly without having to look it up. And I spotted her brother, KCTV weather wonk Gary Amble, looking somber, standing next to her on stage as she announced she was quiting the race.

I digress.

In recent months I’ve become a fan of MSNBC’s "Morning Joe" show. It’s headed by a cocky, former Florida congressman that I previously knew little to nothing about by the name of Joe Scarborough.

What makes the show work is the chemistry between the conservative Scarborough, his brainy, liberal, MILF co-host Mika Brzezinski, the dry-witted, 30-something Willie Geist and an impressive array of political, business and entertainment movers-and-shakers.

However I must admit, I liked the show more prior to Scarborough lapsing into a long spell of dominating certain aspects of the political discourse and repeatedly reminding everybody of his vast experience in congress.

Which got me to wondering things like, "How long was he in?" and "Why is he merely a television host now if he was so darn effective as a politician?"

It didn’t take long to come up with some interesting possible answers.

Answers to questions many of you might have wondered about but never looked into. So here goes.

For starters Scarborough was only in congress for seven years, from January 1995 until September 2001. That’s three and a-half terms for those of you keeping score at home.

Raising the question of why would a rising Republican star quit early into his 4th elected term at age 38?

After all, Scarborough loves nothing more than dissecting and discussing politics, espousing conservative views and reminding viewers of his experience and political successes in elected office.

So why leave?

Here’s where things get a little goosy. A closer look reveals Scarborough stepped down five months into his term after giving notice seven months earlier, barely having battling for re-election. The obvious question being, why? His kids, Scarborough said.

"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 at the time. Florida even had to pony up for a special election to replace Scarborough.

So why the sudden epiphany?

Here’s where it starts to get a little dicey.

Scarborough’s decision to quit congress came on the heels of his 1999 divorce and the hiring of 28 year-old aide Lori Klausutis, who was found dead in his office in July 2001. Although police said they didn’t find evidence of foul play, critics point to unanswered questions about her death.

However with Scarborough swiftly stepping out of the public spotlight and the media frenzy surrounding 9/11, little attention was paid to Klausutis’ death and the overlap between her hiring and his divorce.

Which brings us to the Web site, "All Hat No Cattle," which poses the question, "Which Republican U.S. Congressman had a dead aide found in his office while the media was hounding Democrat U.S. Congressman Gary Condit about his missing ex-intern, Chandra Levy?"

The Condit / Levy witch hunt also got lost in the 9/11 shuffle, however, the publicity cost Condit his re-election in 2002, even though Levy’s murderer was later found and convicted.

But back to "Morning Joe" and Klausutis.

"Needless to say, this story never made national TV," a September 15, 2001 editorial on All Hat reads. "The big boys of broadcast had their sights set solely on Condit and had no time to cover the unusual death of a healthy, politically active 28-year-old female aide in a U.S. Congressman’s district office."

There’s more.

"After all was said and done, a few things became quite clear," All Hat continues. "The authorities, mainly the police who investigated the scene, gave the appearance of a cover-up by immediately stating that there were no signs of foul play. It subsequently was revealed that the dead woman had a wound to her forehead, which seemed to fly in the face of the initial statements by investigators. If this wasn’t an example of poor police work, it most certainly was a case of bumbled media and public relations.

"How could police rule out foul play until they knew the cause of the wound, before an autopsy was conducted and toxicology tests performed?

"The local newspaper, the Northwest Florida Daily News, tried to get information from local authorities and claimed they were sandbagged at every turn .  No one suggested that the Congressman had anything to do with the death, but the manner in which authorities handled the press shows one thing.  They gave the benefit of the doubt to the popular Republican Congressman, and it is doubtful they would have done the same for any ordinary Joe."

Keep reading…

"In October 2006, Joe Scarborough sent a cease and desist letter to have all references to himself and his dead aide, Lori Klausutis, removed from this website," All Hat writes, providing a copy of Scarborough’s lawyer’s letter. "Nothing was removed from this site."

So less than a year from Scarborough landing his "Morning Joe" gig he attempted to silence practically the only media outlet aiming a critical eye at Klausutis’ death.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the matter under the heading, "Resignation and controversy."

"Although the police concluded that there was no evidence of foul play, critics have said that there are unanswered questions about her death. According to Scarborough, soon after her death, allegations ‘spread all over the Internet’ that he had been involved. In 2003, he joked about the incident with Don Imus on Imus’s radio program In 2004, it was the subject of a public spat between Scarborough and filmmaker Michael Moore."

Here’s what’s intriguing to me about the whole Klausutis affair.

Given insinuations that Scarborough may have had a personal involvement with his deceased aide, his hasty and oddly explained exit from congress, combined with the fact that little to no evidence exists that Klausutis relatives pressed much, if at all, for further answers as to what she was doing alone at the office when she "fell" and killed herself  by hitting her head on a desk is perplexing at the very least.

This much is known, that Klausutis started working for Scarborough in 1999, the year he divorced his first wife Melanie Hinton. And that three months after Klausutis death he married current wife Susan.

Oh and one more thing. "No picture has ever been published of Lori Klausutis, the deceased aide of Joe Scarborough," All Hat says.

Hey, I haven’t been able to find a photo and I enlisted some pretty good help in looking.

So how is all of this not a mystery?

It remains a strange, loosely explained chapter in the life of Scarborough – one of today’s most popular news hosts – that lingers in the darkened shadows of Google searches and on Wikipedia.

Along with the question of why, in today’s tabloid news-driven world, further questions seemingly never really have been raised in the media about Klausutis death by her friends, relatives and/or co-workers. Along with Scarborough’s hasty exit from congress and politics, which had he remained, surely would have resulted in Klausutis death and questions surrounding his marital fidelity to become issues in future campaigns.

It’s all quite curious.

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18 Responses to Hearne: The Little Known Fall From Grace of MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’

  1. Smartman says:

    Scarborough Fair
    Scarborough is a joke. Like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin he’s a self absorbed nit-wit with a reality distortion field that requires you to completely suspend reality to consider the world according to Joe. He’s a less liberal but more annoying version of Chris Matthews.

  2. chuck says:

    I have never read, or heard of this incident.
    This was on the money Hearne, really interesting stuff.

    Last year I read “Finding Chadra” by Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz. The book is really hard to put down.

    Now I gotta hear more.

  3. chuck says:

    I like the terminology here, “To be blunt…”Pun intended?
    “To be blunt, a blow to the head is responsible for the death of Lori Klausutis and that obviously means she was not alone when she received it. Lori Klausutis suffered a massive head injury that included a seven-and-one-quarter inch fracture across the top of her skull, an “egshell” fracture inside her skull above her right eye socket, a skalp contusion on the back of her head and a subdural hematoma on the left side of her brain that caused it to swell and herniate. ”


  4. Merle Tagladucci says:

    Other local stories will pop up that you have to cover Hearne but why not dig a little more on this? You seem to have a fair amount of personal intrigue and interest in the story. Obviously others have already tried to investigate this case but who knows what you might find. Look at Scarborough’s face. No way that guy doesn’t have a pile of skeletons in his closet.

  5. paulwilsonkc says:

    Its hard to believe…
    after reading Chuck’s link that no one has paid more attention to this story! But on the flip side of that, I know I, along with everyone I knew, was 100% CERTAIN Gary Condit Killed Chandra. Not a doubt in my mind he did it. He looked the part, acted the part, did sneaky things around the time of the event, was overly secretive and in the end… had NOTHING to do with it.

    Chandra was on a hiking trail and it looked bad…. this girl assumed room temperature next to his DESK. From the report, sounds like she had a MVP then proceeded to fall 3 times in 4 directions, but totally normal, everyone go home, nothing to see here.

    Hard to believe we live in a Country where things like this can get covered up so easily and no fallout. I offer up Chappaquiddick where Ted swam from the murder scene and waited hours to report the, ahhhhh, incident.. If I did that I’d be typing this from the prison library asking Glazer what’s for dinner!

  6. paulwilsonkc says:

    From the Daily Dystopian blog:
    “Conservative MSNBC news host Joe Scarborough was a guest on MSNBC’s Imus show last Thursday, May 29. In complementing Scarborough on his sense of humor, Imus said, ‘Don’t be afraid to be funny, because you are funny. I asked you why you aren’t in Congress. You said that you had sex with the intern and then you had to kill her.’ To which Scarborough laughed, ‘Yeah, ha, ha ha, well, what are you gonna do?'”

  7. RickM says:

    That’s “Morning Joe – Brewed By Starbucks”
    No other cable news show I’m aware of has that kind of corporate tie-in. Even Fox News hasn’t gone there.

    It’s nothing more than ‘The View’ for political junkies. They sit around a table and talk about the news rather than actually report it. The Beltway media gives the show more credence than it deserves.

    Joe really comes off as an arrogant sot. At least Imus knows he’s full of himself.

    Small kudos, though, for playing a snippet of Nick Lowe’s “So It Goes” heading into a commercial break.

  8. HARLEY says:

    wow…smartman is brilliant…
    i thought i was the only person outside bill clinton to know about the reality distortion field that jobs and other
    people followed. One man who believed in it changed the world forever…the other became one of the greatest
    presidents in history…and if anyone does research on this they will learn that this is the absolute greatest
    personal trait a person can possess. the ability to do what others think is impossible and to make others
    believe they too can do the impossible…it works.
    I met clinton first in 1976 and was amazed about his power he possessed to utlitize the rdf. It was almost
    hypnotic. A good friend of mine wrote speeches for clinton and when the teleprompter went dead on his
    state of the union 1.5 hour speech he was able to give the entire speech with just 2 readings…something
    others would consider impossible. His rdf personality would make glaze look like a nerd…in that when he
    spoke with you he made you believe you were the most important person in the world. Incredible!
    So don’t underestimate the rdf…it’s a powerful way of thinking that allowed jobs to create some of the
    most significant piece of technology and he did it with a state of mind that said…believe!!!!!!!

  9. Smartman says:

    That’s right harley, Bill Clinton got that pig Monica Lewinsky to believe he was gonna leave Hillary and marry her. He also got Hillary to believe that the semen stain on the little blue dress was actually mayo and the vast right wing conspiracy turned it into jizz that just happened to match his DNA. Hitler, Mao, Chavez and Castro had the RDF too. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

  10. Super Dave says:

    RDF Part 2
    Ahhhhhh but there is good RDF and bad RDF so one must beware of the person who has it. Just ask the familys of those who lost people to Jim Jones.

  11. harley says:

    super dave and smartman…you’re right…
    the whole philosophy can be used for both good and evil. Despite some setbacks most use it for good…
    and yes some willuse it for evil ways. But it is a very powerful…

  12. Hearne Christopher says:

    Actually, I spoke with the operator of the threatened by Scarborough blog and she had some very interesting things to say. However, I need to make sure what of it I can share because she made some assurances to the woman’s husband about what she would and wouldn’t reveal.

  13. Hearne Christopher says:

    And don’t forget the Iowa anchor woman that worked with Don Harman who totally dropped from sight never to be seen or heard from again.

  14. expat says:

    The only puzzling thing is how this could be ignored? The press loves a Great White Defendent and they hate Republicans even more which makes it perplexing why they’d let a potential Great White Republican Defendent off the hook. Scarborough must have some terrible dirt on the people who run the media… Like he has a picture of Harvey Weinstein in bed with several dead boys or something.

  15. expat says:

    A comment on criticism of the coroner’s report: running several miles a day doesn’t protect you from heart problems and may trigger them in otherwise ‘healthy’ people. There’s nothing surprising about a girl who ran miles every day dropping dead from undiagnosed heart problems it happens all the time.

    Reading through some of the links provided there isn’t really anything to suggest this was a murder other than circumstance and an argument from incredulity about her health. Scarborough is a turd but it’ll take more than that and some coincidence to convince me he murdered some broad in his office. Maybe the reason it isn’t getting reported is that there just isn’t a story there.

  16. Bob says:

    This is like
    the Glazer story of having children watch him attempt sex…oh wait….he later denied that the kid was underage…..humm…cover up.. interesting.

  17. giantslor says:

    Mika is neither particularly brainy nor particularly liberal. She’s definitely a MILF though.

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