An NBC News correspondent reporting from North Korea made an unusual claim on Thursday, saying that North Korean communist officials often watch “Morning Joe,” a political talk show on MSNBC.
“Be in no doubt that the senior officials pay attention to what is being said in the U.S. One telling me, that he watches Morning Joe every day, specifically the segments about North Korea,” NBC News correspondent Kier Simmons said.
Simmons also said that a senior North Korea official told him he believes that President Donald Trump is “mentally ill.”
Mika Brzezinski, one of the show’s hosts, fully embraced the statement by a communist official of North Korea, a country currently threatening to kill Americans and U.S. allies with nuclear weapons.
“They’re saying what a lot of people are thinking,” Brzezinski said, agreeing with the official.
Brzezinski has found herself in hot water several times this year over controversial statements about President Donald Trump.
Joe Scarborough, co-host of the show and Brzezinski’s fiancé, said in response to her comments, “Mika, you’ve got a mind-meld with some people in North Korea.”
In the segment, Simmons also repeated the long-held claims of North Korean officials that they would be successful in a war against the United States.
On the same day that the segment aired, North Korea repeated its threat to attack the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons.
Simmons also emphatically recalled the anti-U.S. propaganda the North Korean official told him.
“I asked that official who is the father of a young son, I said to him, are you frightened for your family, with what you are seeing happening right now,” Simmons said. “And you know what he said to me? ‘All my life I have felt threatened by America and if there is a war,’ a nuclear war he said. He believes that North Korea, and the North Koreans, could survive that.”
North Korean state media reported earlier this week that David Verdi, a senior Vice President at NBC News, and his party had arrived in North Korea.
The U.S. State Department announced in August that U.S. citizens are no longer allowed to travel to North Korea with their U.S. passports starting Sept. 1.
Travel to North Korea by American citizens can only be conducted with a special passport validation, which is granted only in very limited circumstances, given the risk of U.S. citizens being arrested and detained in North Korea.
Since coming to office, President Donald Trump has taken a two-fold approach to North Korea: on the one hand his administration has increased diplomatic and economic pressure on the regime in an attempt to get it to denuclearize. On the other hand, Trump has ordered his senior military officers to draw up military options in an effort to increase pressure on North Korea.
Jack Keane, a retired four-star general and former Vice Chief of Staff of the United States, said that these military options by the Trump administration are making a diplomatic solution more realistic.
“Trump’s team understands that the threat of military force strengthens the diplomatic option. The main effort is diplomacy and economic sanctions,” Keane said on Fox Business.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last Sunday that the President had instructed him to pursue diplomatic options.
“I think he does want to be clear with Kim Jong Un, that regime in North Korea, that he has military preparations ready to go,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told CNN on Oct. 15.
“But be clear, the President has also made clear to me that he wants this solved diplomatically. He is not seeking to go to war,” Tillerson said.
Tillerson said that the Trump administration has been able to unite the international community against North Korea, including North Korea’s closest allies.
China, after months of pressure from Trump, took unprecedented action against North Korea last month when it went beyond new U.N. Security Council sanctions and ordered Chinese banks to stop providing financial services to North Korea. It also ordered North Korean businesses operating in China to close down within 120 days.
“We now have the most comprehensive sanctions in place that have ever been put in place, to strangle the North Korean regime’s economic revenue streams,” Tillerson said.