Reports of an email promising Marco Rubio better coverage if he’d just appear on Morning Joe have apparently prompted host Joe Scarborough to take to several mediums to hammer home a single point: He’s really not jealous of Marco Rubio.

Scarborough first made the point in a Politico essay about not being jealous of Marco Rubio, in which he promises he only says rude things about Rubio for work.

“I have never met Rubio,” he writes. “We never crossed paths politically, professionally, or socially.... I have never once said a single thing negative about Rubio personally off the air. Not once.”

Furthermore, Joe Scarborough says, he only talks shit about Marco Rubio to people who don’t work in politics, media or business or live in Florida, D.C. or New York.

There is no one in the entire state of Florida, in Washington, D.C., in New York, in the political world, the media world, or the business world that can name a time that I have ever spoken an ill word about Rubio as a person.

Scarborough was apparently prompted to write the denial after someone who doesn’t not work for Rubio’s campaign began circulating an email a Morning Joe employee wrote trying to book Rubio for the show.

According to the New York Times, which obtained a copy of the email, Rubio—the only presidential candidate not to pass by Joe’s desk this election—has appeared on the show only once since taking office in 2010. And it hurt Joe’s feelings.

The message from a top producer at MSNBC was blunt: Joe Scarborough, the host of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, was displeased that Senator Marco Rubio of Florida repeatedly appeared on rival cable news shows but kept rebuffing invitations to appear on his program.

For Mr. Scarborough, the email from the producer made it clear, it was personal.

“Joe sees this as disrespectful given their past relationship,” the producer wrote to a Rubio aide who had complained about the show’s coverage of Mr. Rubio. “It’s as simple as that.”

“Have him come on with us,” the producer wrote.

Although the Times does not quote the email in full, the paper notes one portion “seemed to offer better coverage for increased access.” Scarborough, in a text to the Times reporter, said, “That’s a booker being a booker and being aggressive.”

The report, which is titled “Ego, Envy or Airtime? Joe Scarborough’s Unusual Spat with Marco Rubio” takes several paragraphs to point out Joe—a former politician with a similar background to Rubio’s—might just be jealous.

But many of Mr. Rubio’s allies, and even some pundits, view Mr. Scarborough’s distaste for him as driven by something more elemental: envy.

“Almost every election cycle since Joe left Congress, there is talk that he should run for U.S. Senate, governor, or something else,” said Brian Crowley, a former Florida political reporter, adding that after Mr. Rubio became the Florida House speaker, “he started crowding that space.” Mr. Scarborough is a former Republican congressman from the state’s panhandle.


Both men were ascendant conservative stars in Florida until their paths diverged.

Mr. Scarborough, who served four terms in the House, had long eyed a Senate seat. But it was Mr. Rubio, who ran and won in 2010, buoyed by a Tea Party wave. (At the time, Mr. Scarborough questioned the viability of Mr. Rubio’s candidacy, at one point warning that the “other shoe” was going to drop — though the promised scandal never emerged.)

This cycle, Mr. Scarborough encouraged speculation that he might wage a presidential bid. But again, it was Mr. Rubio who mounted a campaign for president. Mr. Scarborough said he never considered running for president, and pointed out that he lives in Connecticut — so he would not have been competing with Mr. Rubio for a Senate seat.

“I don’t know Marco well enough to resent him,” is what Joe Scarborough has to say about all of that.

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