Fox News star anchor Bill O'Reilly is defending two MSNBC hosts from charges that they appear inappropriately close to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
O'Reilly said on his show Tuesday that a recently surfaced audio clip of MSNBC "Morning Joe" hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski having an off-camera chat with Trump was not suspicious or indicative of any bias.
In the audio, from an MSNBC townhall last week hosted by Scarborough and Brzezinski, the two hosts are heard having a breezy talk with Trump during a commercial break. Brzezinski is heard telling Trump what she thought was a "wow" moment at one of his campaign events. Scarborough is heard asking Trump whether he has golfed lately.
"[I do] not see anything wrong with that banter," O'Reilly said after playing the audio on air. "I want to be quite clear. Donald Trump has said similar things to me off camera … Some believe Mr. Trump tries to co-opt some journalists, tries to persuade them to be friendly. But almost every political candidate does that. It's part of the process. Of course politicians want favorable treatment and there's nothing wrong with them trying to get it."
The co-hosts have acknowledged a personal familiarity with Trump but have said that it does not interfere with the political criticisms and analysis they offer on their weekday morning show.