Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski was absent from the popular MSNBC show Thursday morning, a day after she apologized for having made a homophobic slur to describe Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“Mika has the day off with her family, a long-planned family event,” her Morning Joe co-host and husband, Joe Scarborough, announced to open the show. “She’ll be back with us tomorrow.”
Brzezinski apologized on Twitter Wednesday afternoon after facing an intense backlash for calling Pompeo a “wannabe dictator’s butt boy” during a discussion about his Fox News interview and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Brzezinski, during a discussion on Wednesday’s show with Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.), expressed her frustration over Pompeo’s avoidance of the issue in an unusually tough Fox & Friends interview, in which the secretary of state repeatedly dodged direct questions from co-host Brian Kilmeade.
“I understand that Donald Trump doesn’t care … But why doesn’t Mike Pompeo care right now?” Brzezinski asked Durbin. “Are the pathetic deflections that we just heard when he appeared on Fox & Friends, is that a patriot speaking, or a wannabe dictator’s butt-boy? I’m dead serious. I’m asking, are these the words of a patriot?”
MSNBC attempted to bleep out the remark from the Morning Joe broadcast, but was too slow. It also omitted the comment from the show’s close captioning. Reporters, politicians, and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s oldest son, expressed outrage over Brzezinski’s comment.
Richard Grenell, the current ambassador to Germany who during Mitt Romney’s 2012 run became the first openly gay spokesman for a Republican presidential candidate, called Brzezinski’s comments “totally unacceptable" and "deeply disturbing.”
Despite the wave of outrage, Brzezinski did have at least one unlikely high-profile supporter — Fox News host Sean Hannity, who called her “insane” but defended her apology during his show Wednesday night.
“I’m not the thought police. I’m not the speech police. And something they would never do for a Fox opinion host is... stand up when people try to boycott, or stand up when people call for firings. I believe she’s probably sincere in her apology,” Hannity said. “People do want to destroy her career over this. This is a problem we have in all of media.”