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A Viral Post Distorts Comments Made by MSNBC Host Mika Brzezinski
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A Viral Post Distorts Comments Made by MSNBC Host Mika Brzezinski

Brzezinski was discussing Donald Trump, not Elon Musk, and later clarified her statement.

Mika Brzezinski speaks at the Forbes 50 Over 50 Luncheon on December 8, 2022, in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

A viral Instagram reel with more than 78,000 views purports to show MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski claiming that it is the media’s job, not Elon Musk’s, to control what people think.

According to the caption placed above the video clip, Brzezinski tells a Morning Joe panel that “[Elon] could actually control what people think,” and that “that is our job,” referring to the media. This statement is followed by a clip of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood whistling and pointing at a TV screen, a “reaction meme” that is commonly used to point out parts of a video that a viewer may have missed and should be given close attention.

The video clip is accurate but shows Brzezinski saying “he” rather than referring to Musk specifically. The full video shows that Brzezinski was referring to Donald Trump, not Musk.

The video is taken from the February 22, 2017, episode of Morning Joe, and Brzezinski, co-host Joe Scarborough, and then-New York Times reporter Yamiche Alcindor can be seen discussing the American people’s desire for political compromise and Trump’s policy actions early in his first term. “Well, and I think that the dangerous, you know, edges here are that he’s trying to undermine the media, trying to make up his own facts, and it could be that, while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think,” Brzezinski says regarding Trump. “And that is, that is our job.”

Later that day, Brzezinski clarified her comments, explaining on Twitter that she was not insinuating that it was the media’s job to control what people think.

The quote’s false referencing of Musk appears to have originated in April 2022, only days after Musk initiated his takeover of Twitter. It was refuted by multiple outlets at the time. 

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Alex Demas is a fact checker at The Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in England as a financial journalist and earned his MA in Political Economy at King's College London. When not heroically combating misinformation online, Alex can be found mixing cocktails, watching his beloved soccer team Aston Villa lose a match, or attempting to pet stray cats.