National Press Club

Brzezinski: Moving Backward to Go Forward

January 13, 2010 | By Bea Snyder |

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“Sometimes you have to take a big step backwards in order to move forward,” Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe and The Joe Scarborough Show on ABC Radio Network told an audience of 250 Jan. 12. Joined by Joe Scarborough, Brzezinski discussed her memoir, "All Things at Once," and their experiences working together.

On her 39th birthday, Brzezinski was fired from CBS. “The network was under new management. In television you are a commodity, and they didn’t like my looks,” she said. Scarborough added, “There is a lot of misogyny in the networks—in fact it is rampant and it is very difficult for women. Young women are brought up too soon, they drink the Kool Aid, and when they inevitably fall, most cannot get up again.”

After being fired, Brzezinski prepared to be a stay-at-home mom but soon realized that she missed working. Her husband and two daughters were supportive in her going back to work, realizing how much she loved working in television. In her quest for a new job, she went though a year of the worst interviews she had ever experienced, and her confidence was badly shaken. Finally she called MSNBC and inquired about jobs at any level. She took a part-time freelance fill-in news reader job at a substantially lower level—starting at the bottom again at age 40.

It was in this capacity that she met Scarborough, doing the feed-in for his show Scarborough Country. He was under the impression that she was making fun of his show, but she told him, “How can I make fun of a show I have never seen?” He liked her style and honesty and asked her “How would you like to do a morning show with me?”

They are on the air for five hours a day, starting at 3:30 am.

Wife, mother and TV personality, Brzezinski recounted trying to balance the many facets of her life—while being true to herself. She is the daughter of Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter, and artist/sculptor Emilie Benes Brzezinski. The book is dedicated to her mother, who was a wife, mother and artist who put her artistic career on hold when she accompanied her husband to Virginia. During those years, her mother never let go of her art. She taught her children, "Always hold onto your identity and don’t let anyone take it away. Anything is possible—and much expected."

Barbara Bird introduced Brzezinski and Scarborough.