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Tilting at Windmills

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November 11, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

GOTCHA....I'll second Matt Yglesias's takedown today of Tim Russert's stale and clownish version of gotcha journalism. Russert is a one trick pony whose act got stale a long, long time ago.

I'll just add two things. First, this is not a partisan issue. The gotcha routine, no matter who it comes from, is bad for everyone, both Republicans and Democrats. Second, Russert's schtick perpetuates the idea that the worst possible sin in a politician is displaying even a hint of inconsistency. But you know what? It turns out there are worse things. Obviously politicians should be held accountable for their words, but Russert and his colleagues ought to focus a little more on what's really important and a little less on what somebody said in 1998.

Kevin Drum 10:49 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (56)

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so long as you answer Russert's question with a Talking Point (however irrelevant) you will do well on his show.

Posted by: absent observer on November 11, 2007 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

I have to disagree that Russert is as tough on Republicans as Democrats. When he has McCain, Cheney, or Leiberman on, he'll ask a moderate "gotcha" sometimes, but usually let them ramble on without interruption or pause. And when he had his sit-down with Bush, he asked NO follow-up questions, as Bush rattled off his talking points. They might as well have been at the bar at the Yale Club.

His guestlist is skewed heavily toward Republicans also; I feel like I've spent more Sunday breakfasts with John McCain than with my husband. And his little journalistic roundtables usually consist of one fairly moderate reporter, perhaps two on a good day, and at least one total wingnut masquerading as a journalist, such as David Brooks.

The first Democratic presidential candidate to do a real takedown of Russert on his show, ie challenge the assertions in his questions -- such as his always-loaded and always-wrong questions about the Social Security "emergency" -- could score major points with the public and primary voters, ie the way Bill Clinton slew Chris Wallace. And what have they got to lose, when he's already attacking them from the jump?

Posted by: sullijan on November 11, 2007 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, it would be "bad" for the Republicans if he did it to them even as half as much as he does it to the Dems. Put down the Absinthe spoon, dude!

Posted by: Pinko Punko on November 11, 2007 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Russert should be replaced by Ray Suarez, who understands policy, listens to the answer, and knows how to follow up. He would make Sunday mornings useful.

Posted by: jnickens on November 11, 2007 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

The whole system is stacked against getting rational human beings elected to public office. I can only conclude that we like it that way.

Posted by: craigie on November 11, 2007 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

Russert is a buffoon. The question, Kevin Drum, is this: are you running for President? Are you? Are you? You say you're not running for President. Are you sure? Really?

Posted by: Lev on November 11, 2007 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

Sullijan/Pinko: I didn't say Russert was as tough on Republicans as on Democrats. Since I don't watch his show much, I don't really know. All I meant is that the gotcha routine in general isn't bad only for Democrats. It's just plain corrosive for everyone.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on November 11, 2007 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

Second, his schtick perpetuates the idea that the worst possible sin in a politician is displaying even a hint of inconsistency. But you know what? It turns out there are worse things.

Kevin, it's saying things like this which explain why you're a blogger and not a journalist. As Dana Priest of the liberal Washington Post pointed out, it's the job of political reporters to point out the inconsistencies of politicians, and that's why it's absolutely correct for Russert and other political journalists to expose the inconsistencies of what a politician is saying today as compared to what he said in 1998.

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2004/08/11/DI2005040307564_pf.html

"the ones I have read make it clear (as if readers needed the help) that these statements represent conflicts from previous points of view. Although I'm not part of the political reporting team, I know their job is to point out inconsistencies with all candidates. John Kerry has been very inconsistent on his Iraq statements, this is also reflected in the polling data."

Posted by: Al on November 11, 2007 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Media Matters has done a pretty good job of outing Russert for the clown he is; on their website, they have 586 search results for Meet the Press:

http://mediamatters.org/issues_topics/search_results?qstring=meet+the+press

Here are the Media Matters numbers on Republican versus Democratic guests on MTP since 2001:

2001: 65.6% Republican, 34.4% Democratic
2002: 61.8%R, 31.2%D
2003: 61.9%R, 38.1%D
2004: 54.5%R; 45.5%D
2005: 62.7%R, 37.3%D

Pretty heavily unfair and unbalanced (much like Russert), even in the Presidential Election year, when surrogates of both parties were always available.

Perhaps they could do a follow-up study showing how often he interrupts/challenges/follows up with guests of each party, and how much time he actually gives them to speak before breaking in and bloviating.

Posted by: sullijan on November 11, 2007 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: I'm happy I misunderstood you about that, as I was worried that the dreaded "equivalency creep" was sneaking in.

Posted by: sullijan on November 11, 2007 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

P.S. I mistyped the 2002 figure from MTP; it should be 61.8%R versus 38.2%D.

Posted by: sullijan on November 11, 2007 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

How could someone who had a second rate education like Russert be permitted to have such an influential position?

Posted by: Ricb on November 11, 2007 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

Russert should be replaced by Ray Suarez

My complaint with Suarez, going back to his NPR days, is that he likes the sound of his own voice a bit too much, and will take 45 seconds to ask a 5 second question so he can demonstrate how much he knows about the topic.

He'd be an improvement on Russert, but then so would my cat.

Posted by: jimBOB on November 12, 2007 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

Al, there's a "liberal Washington Pos"? Is this some antimatter version of the Washington Post for which Dana Priest actually works?

On consistency:
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." - Emerson.

Hell, Al's got so much foolish consistency he's a microencephalitic.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on November 12, 2007 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

One of the things that is worse than inconsistency can be uhm consistency. Is it an accident that with an election under the Russert rules we got a President who started out wanting to cut taxes to reduce the surplus, build a missile defense system and get Saddam Hussein and responded to 911 by cutting taxes, building a missile defense system and invading Iraq ?

We have learned the cost of refusal to learn and to ever ever admit mistakes. I think we should react by electing politicians who are too intelligent and honest to stick to the same views for 9 years.

Now as to Russert how many people have responded to him by quoting what Keynes said when accused of inconsistency
"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"
http://tinyurl.com/yub7w8

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on November 12, 2007 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

Is Russert a newsman or an entertainer?

What Russert provides isn't news, it's hype art. Russert is really just another Bill O'Reilly and every bit as annoying too. You would only watch Russert if like garbage. Seeing Broder state twice about "those foul mouth liberal bloggers" isn't news, it's a show place for cheap partisan hupla.

Russert never has been, never will be a Bob Schieffer or a Sam Donaldson, those guys are newsman, and Russer is not. It all makes you really miss the real news and what it used to be like, and if would be so refeshing to actually see real news on those so called political comment shows. Ditto for ABC's "This Week". Meet the Press is nothing more that another crossfire piece of crap.

Posted by: Me_again on November 12, 2007 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

It must have been the cruel Buffalo winters that made Rusty the way he is. They may have frozen his brain.

Posted by: lk on November 12, 2007 at 2:46 AM | PERMALINK

And just the way Russert leans forward to his guest, leering, as he plays that little "gotcha" moment--his handlers having prepared some obscure quote to trap the guest, to disparage- it is almost abusive and antisocial, aggressive and bullying--cruel--reflecting some kind of little man syndrome, kind of deliberate and strangely retaliatory, deceitful, violating....I see it, I despise it, and it compromises his 'journalism.'

Posted by: consider wisely always, Mr. Russert on November 12, 2007 at 3:44 AM | PERMALINK

I found this post gratifying and affirming. Gratifying because it comes from such a popular and successful blogger. (Ditto for Yglesias.) Affirming because it so closely parallels my Oct. 29 post at Oh!pinion, which was triggered by Russert's ambush-riddled interview with Sen. Chris Dodd — a perfect example of Russert's gotcha style. Added to which Russert posed questions clearly designed to embarrass and rattle, as opposed to eliciting useful information for voters.

My post was, What’s all trick, no treat? It’s “Meet the Press”.

Here's an excerpt:

Russert’s M.O. is simple: go over the guest’s record looking for any apparent inconsistencies that, taken out of context months or years later, make the person appear to be a hopeless flip-flopper or unprincipled pol who shifts with any change of public opinion.

When successful, Russert’s volley of potentially embarrassing questions, some bolstered with video, make the guest defensive, maybe even rattled and/or angry. The result can be a kind of “immediacy” prized by TV interviewers because it supposedly elicits spontaneous and revealing reactions in real time.

You and interested commenters here are most welcome to come read the rest. The accompanying Halloween-themed mug shot of Russert by itself is well worth the effort required to click the link.

Posted by: S.W. Anderson on November 12, 2007 at 4:05 AM | PERMALINK

It's only a partisan issue because Russert attacks Democrats far more regularly than Republicans. If he has focused his "journalistic" vitriol on the current occupant of the Oval Office, he would have been impeached a long time ago.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on November 12, 2007 at 5:47 AM | PERMALINK

I like the sound of Suarez's voice too, so his self-regard doesn't really bother me.

Posted by: jnickens on November 12, 2007 at 6:09 AM | PERMALINK

Why in the hell did anyone in the Democratic campaigns sign on to Tim's participation in the debates in the first place?

Posted by: bob h on November 12, 2007 at 7:27 AM | PERMALINK

Tim Russert is a hack journalist. Get rid of him, there's always another to answer the bell.

The guy who really irritates me is George Steppinfetchit on ABC's This Week, who tries so hard to be Russert Lite. Whenever he has a round-table with Cokie Roberts, Sam Donaldson and George Will, I can almost always count on hearing an innanely superficial discussion and a cocktail-circuit analysis of the week's events.

It's frightening, really, to think that these people see themselves as the public gatekeepers to the D.C. power-elite.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on November 12, 2007 at 7:37 AM | PERMALINK

russert is WAY nicer to republicans than he is to dems and this is something that needs to be pointed out again and again frankly, it is at least as important an issue as his moronic "gotcha" style. his interview of bush was a joke, like larry king. isnt that worth probing?

Posted by: logicat on November 12, 2007 at 7:48 AM | PERMALINK

Here is an area where the blogosphere can and SHOULD make a huge difference...we must continue to send this wisdom around and around that the likes of Russert, Matthews, Scheiffer, Blitzer, et al are irrelevant and provide NO USEFUL information that assists the American people in becoming educated about their government/candidates/policies. It's all ENTERTAINMENT now and how can they make profits for their employers/owners and enhance their own portfolios - sell their books - increase their EGOS...People need to find ways to unattach from the MSM as a vehicle for gathering information...

Posted by: Dancer on November 12, 2007 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

FWIW, Russert's "schtick" is what lawyers do to witnesses all the time. It makes for great theater and it's a fine way to knock the other guy off balance. I do it all the time when I take depositions and definitely at trial. Russert's a lawyer, as you know. So this type of thing comes naturally to him.

Whether "news" shows should have such a heavy dose of attacks on credibility (which is what the "gotcha" questions are) is a different question. Obviously he gets the ratings his bosses want him to get, otherwise he'd be pounding the pavement. The masses seem to enjoy the spectacle.

Posted by: boldface on November 12, 2007 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Gotcha questions have a place. If Russert had asked one of the players in the Iraq scheme the question "why the hell don't you let the inspectors finish since they are turning up no wmd and you've said war is a last resort?", maybe he would be of some value. As it is he only sees things through a thick Republican lens and is completely out-of-touch with what a disaster the country outside the beltway is. The most important thing to Russert is that you don't raise taxes on the rich.

He also has a markedly different questioning technique depending on the person he is talking to. He really puts on an act. He will relentlessly badger one person over some trivial matter, but with Republicans (and Dems he favors) he will bring up some really important issue that the person should respond to and not pursue any inconsistencies and dismiss the whole matter as if it were trivial. He badgers on trivia and dismisses gravely important matters. He just badgered the hell out of Chris Dodd and let Obama just prattle on.

Posted by: Chrissy on November 12, 2007 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "First, this is not a partisan issue."

That's an outright falsehood. It is a blatantly partisan issue. Russert attacks Democrats, consistently, aggressively and dishonestly. Russert fawns over Republicans and throws them softball questions.

Russert is nothing but a bought-and-paid-for shill for the Republican Party, just like Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh.

Why pretend otherwise?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on November 12, 2007 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

to SocraticGadfly's Emerson's "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." I add Walt Whitman's longer: "Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself I am large, I contain multitudes."

Posted by: chowderhead on November 12, 2007 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

The whole consistancy thing points out something interesting.Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words.

Posted by: Gandalf on November 12, 2007 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with SecularAnimist and then some. Look at how Russert's profile came through during the Scooter Libby trial - the White House using Russert to "get our message out," as they knew the easily deflected softballs Russert would lob.

"Cheney Ass-Wipe" is the best description of Russert.

Posted by: MaxGowan on November 12, 2007 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Russert worked for Tip o'Neil and is a liberal democrat.

However, he overcomes that by asking tough questions of both republicans and democrats. Pointing out inconsistent statements by politicians is an important part of educating the public about the politician. Russert is very fair about letting the guest offer and explanation and, in fact, he often lets the guest off the hook with a lame explanation. One criticism of Russert is he does not follow up after showing the inconsistency.

The notion that asking open ended questions about the candidates policies would produce informative answers is a joke. You just get their poll tested drivel about their politices. Look at how Hillary Clinton answers such questions. It would take a more effective and aggressive questioner than Russert to meaningfully follow up on the drivel answers from Clinton and others. It also would be very hard to do in the tight time limits and in accordance with the courtesies provided political figures on television.

Reading Yglesias a bit (including this post) and listening to him, I doubt that he represents a very normal perspective on what a viewer wants to see and hear.

Russert provides one source of information. Those interested in hearing politicians drone on about their policies can find it elsewhere.

Posted by: brian on November 12, 2007 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Irony alert: brian, everyone's favorite faux-reasonable concern troll, accuses someone else of not representing "a very normal perspective."

Posted by: Gregory on November 12, 2007 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Brian:
Russert worked for Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Tweety worked for Tip O'Neill. Second, as a commenter mentioned above, if Russert was such a Democrat, why did Darth Vader's crew want so bad to go on MTP and spread their lies? It's because Mr. Potato Head(Russert) is a corporate media tool. He lacks substance. By the way, working for a Democrat in Washington doesn't mean crap as these two men prove. For another example, just look at Charles Krauthammer. Did you know that he once worked in the Jimmy Carter WH? You can look it up. Would you call Kraphammer a liberal? Thought not.

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on November 12, 2007 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory,
Don't worry. Brian seems to get Tweety and Mr. Potato Head mixed up as you can see, though both are tools, just like Brian himself.

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on November 12, 2007 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Not far, Joe Klein's conscience; Brian would probably consider Kraphammer a liberal Democrat exactly because he worked for that liberal Jimmy Carter.

The Libby trial really took that Darth Vader mask off of who is sucking whom.

Posted by: MaxGowan on November 12, 2007 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

How do you know that Russert's gotcha's are "...bad for everyone, both Republicans and Democrats", when he reserves that sort of thing only to all Democrats or the few independent (Hagel, Paul, etc.) Republicans?

Posted by: Frank Schmitz on November 12, 2007 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Apropos of this discussion (and not offered in defense of any particular candidate):

"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"
John Maynard Keynes, quoted in Malabre, Lost Prophets: An Insider's History of the Modern Economists (1994) at 220.

Posted by: Henry on November 12, 2007 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on November 12, 2007 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Nice to see that Bob Somerby just posted a good takedown of this dumb statement that Russert's act is not a partisan issue. And that dumbness was only compounded by Kevin's comment above that he can't say whether this is a partisan issue because he does not watch him (though he is able to determine that his methods are bad for everyone). Just relexive High Broderism, I guess.

Posted by: Marlowe on November 12, 2007 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Kevin you missed a spot on Russert's ass.

Pucker up and get going.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on November 12, 2007 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Russert generally hammers Democrats with misinformation, disinformation and outright falsehoods while he gives tongue baths to his favorite Republicans.
Russert is seen as a tool for the Bush regime

…Scooter Libby, chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that Russert was the first to tell him of the identity of Central Intelligence Agency agent Valerie Plame (Mrs. Joseph C. Wilson). Russert testified previously and again in United States v. I. Lewis Libby that he did not tell Libby of Mrs. Wilson's CIA identity.….During the trial, another witness, former Cheney communications director Cathie Martin, testified that she "suggested we put the vice president on 'Meet the Press,'" hosted by Russert on NBC, and that it was "a tactic we often used....It's our best format."…

The talking point that theses multimillionaire 'pundits' are liberal democrats is laughable.

Posted by: Mike on November 12, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Take down? Take down? If this were Elizabethan England (I know it technically is there, but I mean the first one) there'd be gloves and seconds and meeting at dawn.

Somerby's "money quote":

Go ahead: Read Foser’s piece—then read Matt and Kevin. Has Russert been fair down through the years? We can’t imagine why a liberal would want to assert that.

This has gone on for a very long time. But so what? In the suburbs surrounding the Village, fiery leaders like Matt and Kevin are too weak, too worthless to care.

So, Kevin, why would a self-described progressive want to assert that? Or are you just a suburban village boy, worthless and weak?

Posted by: TJM on November 12, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

PROFILES DISCOURAGED! The most remarkable fact about Chris Matthews is the fact that he never gets profiled: // link // print // previous // next //

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2007

TIME TO GIVE UP ON THE BOYS OF THE BURBS: Its time to give up on Kevin and Matt and all the Good Boys of the Village suburbs. Here is Matt, discussing the problems with tough-talking tyro Tim Russert: http://dailyhowler.com/

This has gone on for a very long time. But so what? In the suburbs surrounding the Village, fiery leaders like Matt and Kevin are too weak, too worthless to care.


Posted by: Wil Burns on November 12, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

The US makes a fetish, for young children, of spelling bees. All about isolated facts with no value placed on context, history, or common sense. As long as you can spell hermeneutics who cares what it means or how you might use it in an essay?

For the older children, the fetish is debate club, where these sort of "aha" attacks are considered the ideal way to win points, far more so than carefully constructed arguments. (Not that I blame the kids, teenagers don't have enough knowledge or experience to construct very good arguments about controversial topics, but they can easily understand this sort of trap.)

With this being the way the American public is educated, why be surprised that this is how the politics plays out? Russert is simply playing a role here; if he were offed tomorrow, the show would go on with someone else taking his place.
This is no different from, for example, the way creationists argue about biology, or global-warming-deniers about climate science --- it's all about finding one minor issue, an unexplained fact, a mistake in a paper, the words of one careless scientist, and that 'smoking gun" is supposedly worth more than mountains of careful and considered evidence.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on November 12, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I was wrong about Russert working for Tip O'Neil, but I sure have heard him say very nice things about O'Neil. Russert actually worked on the campaigns of Mario Cuomo and Daniel Moynihan, then worked on their staffs for about 8 years. It is hard to see him as anything other than a liberal democrat politically. But I think he keeps a pretty fair control over any outward bias. The problem is that since his thinking is liberal, it must affect his work. It would be better for him and other journalists to identify their politics and then earn recognition as fair and unbiased.

By the way, Ann Athouse had a spot on comment abou the Yglesias post:

"Come on, Russert! Can't you set things up to embarrass Republicans and not Democrats? But clear away Yglesias's laughable bias and his point is that candidates should be given room to lecture us about their policies. Or not us... because I wouldn't watch such a boring TV show... but somebody... or maybe nobody...

"[Russert] attracts a circle of admirers who share his perverse and unethical lack of concern for whether or not his work helps produce an informed public, gobs of less-prominent television journalists seek to emulate his lack of concern with informing the public, print journalists eagerly court opportunities to appear on the non-informative shows hosted by Russert and his emulators, and down the rabbit hole we go."


It's unethical to confront political candidates with the contradictions in their own statements and with pointed criticisms from their opponents? It's perverse? Russert's a sadist, don't you know, because he won't let our politicians get comfortable.

Posted by: brian on November 12, 2007 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

There goes brian again. And as if Ann ("Let's have another look at those breasts") Althouse has anything of value to contribute. As if Russert "won't let our politicians" . . . wait a minute: who? Seems like Cheney was awfully comfortable. Just go on pretending to ignore the Libby trial.

Posted by: MaxGowan on November 12, 2007 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

I saw Russert go after Senator Dodd a few weeks ago and was disgusted at the glee in Russert's eyes as he trotted out a stale quote meant to embarrass Dodd.

I can see the value of pointing out an inconsistancy and asking for clarification. Something worthwhile might come of it.

But Russert plays dirty. He knows why politicians change their stances with the political winds. He also knows that Senators don't always vote for bills they support and don't always oppose bills they dislike.

I don't mind if a politican changes his position if he does so in the face of new information. It takes a certain intellectual integrity plus no small measure of courage to reassess ones position publicly. Too bad Bush can't manage that.

Posted by: jpmist on November 12, 2007 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

When are you going to notice that Russert and Matthews have a particular animus for Democratic candidates and that their treatment of Republicans is vastly different?

Are you hoping to get invited onto Meet The Press or Hardball some day or what's the deal?

Why are you and Matt playing this crazy game here? Russert and company routinely go out of their way to gut Democratic candidates in ways that never extend to the Republican corollaries?

Would it be hard to find gotcha quotes, etc. for any of these Republican bozos? Of course not, this is a very obviously one-sided attack and you're just repeating a palace lie to bury that aren't you?

What gives?

Posted by: Crabcakes on November 13, 2007 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

You're on a national stage. Some questioners are "nice" and on your side. Some are not. Some are hacks with obvious axes to grind (Chris Matthews, anyone?). Some are honest brokers. Big frickin' deal.

Either you're tough enough to take questions from folks with whom you disagree, or you're not. Either your smart enough to anticipate and prepare for "gotcha" questions or you're not.

But whining about the grand unfairness of it all is neither tough nor smart, regardless of your party.

Posted by: Dave in VA on November 13, 2007 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree Dave.

If you're in a situation where an obvious bias exists and therefore the statistical probability that a "gotcha" is going to land on your a$$ is much higher than that it's going to land on that of your opponent, then it doesn't strike me as particularly "smart" to accept that situation and not attempt to call it out.

I think that in fact is exactly what Republicans began trying to do in the 1960s - 70s at which time they started a concerted effort to "expose" the media as too "liberal".

Was that "not tough" or "not smart" of the Republicans to do? It doesn't look that way to me.

Instead it seems to have been a great strategy, given how cowed and paranoid the media is today of appearing "liberal" at all.

So I think what's good for the goose is good for the gander and the Democrats would be utterly foolish to ignore the bias of Matthews, et al. and console themselves that they are thereby "tough".

Gore was "tough" enough to let himself be called a liar for 18 months and look where it got him.

Posted by: Crabcakes on November 14, 2007 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Crab,

It's an issue of scale. It's one thing to complain about systemic bias, particularly when those heading the system held themselves out as disinterested observers. Flagrant systemic hypocrisy is a nice, fat target, and can be attacked without diminishing the attacker.

It's another to single out and demonize--yes, demonize--a single media figure because he asked a question for which any halfway competent pol would have an answer.

I mean, honestly, people: how do you think it looks, getting this worked up over little ol' Russert? You flail at a small target, you look small yourselves.

Posted by: Dave in VA on November 14, 2007 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

Again, I disagree. Russert isn't the editor for the Omaha Shoppers Weekly, he's one of the high priest of the media, and also a major "gatekeeper" to presidential ambitions.

Every candidate has to run the Russert gauntlet. Did you read the associated article that started this topic? It deals with Russerts gotchas which like it or not are very influential.

The Clinton campaign has taken a huge hit in the polls subsequent to this debate, and I think some of these gotcha questions are clearly a big part of it.

So I guess we just disagree. I guess according to you the Rs have been willing to make themselves look "small" for the last 30-40 years in vociferously protesting bias, but IMHO it seems to have worked regardless.

Best

Posted by: Crab on November 15, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

p.s. it's not about a single question either, it's about a pattern of gotcha questions targetted at Democratic candidates.

Your answer suggests that you either missed that or are ignoring it.

Posted by: Crab on November 15, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

My answer is that I don't care: work around the "gatekeeper" you find disagreeable. Suck it up.

Again: it's one thing to complain about systemic bias. You are the David, they are the Goliath.

It's another to fall to pieces over one media figure who won't "play nice." You are running for President of the United States. Russert is no Goliath.

Posted by: Dave in VA on November 16, 2007 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

Really? Ask Howard Dean how that worked out. Whooooooooo!

Posted by: Starkad on November 21, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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