Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 16, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

REPLACING RUSSERT....Jonah Goldberg says that Tim Russert "executed his vision honorably, honestly, and with complete professionalism," but he'd still like to see Meet the Press go back to its roots:

All of that said, I think the show should return to a panel, at least for the time being. What's wrong with bringing three or four hard-hitting journalists to ask questions the way they used to? This is not only the best way to get a more diverse line of questioning (I would love to see Byron York or Steve Hayes on there asking questions no one else would ask), but it would help forestall some truly awful choices that seem to be in the hopper.

Now, this is not going to happen. TV journalism long ago become entirely personality driven, and that's not going to change. And yes, if MTP did go back to a panel asking questions, we liberals would have a slightly different set of people we'd like to see getting airtime.

Still, just as a topic of conversation, what about it? I sort of doubt that having three journalists instead of one would really make much of a difference, but I'd be fairly enthusiastic about having one good moderator plus a couple of specialists each week. If the topic were economics or taxes, you'd have a harder time getting away with the usual BS if you were sitting across from Paul Krugman or Dean Baker. If the topic were FISA or Guantanamo, Jack Balkin or Erwin Chemerinsky might be able to dig a little deeper than Andrea Mitchell.

The danger, of course, is that the show would turn into a slightly higher rent version of the late unlamented Crossfire. Or that experts aren't always good questioners. Maybe that's not worth the risk. It's worth a thought, though.

Kevin Drum 3:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (46)

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Comments

What's wrong with bringing three or four hard-hitting journalists to ask questions...

They couldn't find 3 or 4.

Posted by: ckelly on June 16, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Kill the turkey, MTP hasn't been worth a damn in decades anyway; isn't going to get any better. Rename the rotting shell "Fete The Villagers" and let them slather all over themselves for an hour each week so we can not watch.

Posted by: bmaz on June 16, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

The more lying liars the better...

Posted by: on June 16, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Bill Moyers is the only cat I can think of with the credibility to restore Meet The Press. Course, he's got a better gig at PBS, so whatever.

Posted by: dob on June 16, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's a fine idea to have several "journalists" replace Russert. BUT -- they should look outside of The Village and bring in some up-and-coming bloggers or left-leaning radio personalities. MSNBC has opened its doors to Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz of Air America; it would be great if NBC gave a shot to one of them and/or bloggers such as Digby, Josh Marshall, Duncan Black, or others. It's time to expand the tent and recognize the power and force that's growing outside The Village.

Posted by: Plan 9 on June 16, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

I mean this in the most positive, constructive way, but who the fuck cares what Jonah Goldberg's opinion is about anything? He's the poster boy for the Bullshit Industry's core principle that "anyone's opinion is as valid as anyone else's". In a sane world, that Juan Cole thing would be all the evidence any rational person would need to dismiss anything he pretends to be an "expert" about.

Seriously.

Posted by: DH Walker on June 16, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with a rotating panel is that the panel members will inevitably overreach. They will slip into a "this is my moment to shine and I have to make the most of it" mentality.

Posted by: jacob on June 16, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

The Doughy Pantload is under the delusion that Byron York and Stephen Hayes are journalists.

No wonder the Pantload loved Tim Russert. Tim would give airtime to the likes of Kate O'Beirne, York, Bill Safire, Mary Matalin, Peggy Noonan, etc., the biggest collection of right-wing scumbags ever assembled since Bob Novak dined alone.

Posted by: Roger Ailes on June 16, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Byron York or Steve Hayes on there asking questions no one else would ask

God help us!


Posted by: on June 16, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Whomever becomes the moderator for MTP, whether an individual or panel, will become the mouthpiece for GE's political agenda.

Posted by: Brojo on June 16, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly this is Matt Drudge's time to step up on the big stage...

Posted by: e. nonee moose on June 16, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/34488

Informative as always.

Posted by: DH Walker on June 16, 2008 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo nailed it: "Whomever becomes the moderator for MTP, whether an individual or panel, will become the mouthpiece for GE's political agenda."

The real problem isn't this-or-that "on-air personality". The real problem is that nearly all of America's mass media from which most Americans get most of their information is owned and controlled by a handful of giant corporations, and functions to disseminate their propaganda, not to serve the interests of the public. The real problem is that America's public political discourse is almost completely owned by America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc. The Tim Russerts of the world are just their servants -- very, very, very well-paid servants, to be sure, but nonetheless, they are just the hired help.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 16, 2008 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

After watching the interview online with Matt Lauer and Luke Russert I realized how much I will miss his father. All of those Sunday's with Tim's smiling face filling our house with political discussion are some I my fondest memories. Luke is definitely his father's son and how wonderful if NBC would consider giving him the opportunity afforded his dad: MTP. The candidates under consideration are not worthy and too old. Tim was so young with such grand enthusiasm, the same hopeful smile is seen on the face of this remarkable young man. Please no Katie's or Brian's or David's...we want new refreshing with a mountain of political knowledge...thanks from a true MTP fan.

Posted by: maris on June 16, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

After watching the interview online with Matt Lauer and Luke Russert I realized how much I will miss his father. All of those Sunday's with Tim's smiling face filling our house with political discussion are some I my fondest memories. Luke is definitely his father's son and how wonderful if NBC would consider giving him the opportunity afforded his dad: MTP. The candidates under consideration are not worthy and too old. Tim was so young with such grand enthusiasm, the same hopeful smile is seen on the face of this remarkable young man. Please no Katie's or Brian's or David's...we want new refreshing with a mountain of political knowledge...thanks from a true MTP fan.

Posted by: maris on June 16, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

After watching the interview online with Matt Lauer and Luke Russert I realized how much I will miss his father. All of those Sunday's with Tim's smiling face filling our house with political discussion are some I my fondest memories. Luke is definitely his father's son and how wonderful if NBC would consider giving him the opportunity afforded his dad: MTP. The candidates under consideration are not worthy and too old. Tim was so young with such grand enthusiasm, the same hopeful smile is seen on the face of this remarkable young man. Please no Katie's or Brian's or David's...we want new refreshing with a mountain of political knowledge...thanks from a true MTP fan.

Posted by: maris on June 16, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

After watching the interview online with Matt Lauer and Luke Russert I realized how much I will miss his father. All of those Sunday's with Tim's smiling face filling our house with political discussion are some I my fondest memories. Luke is definitely his father's son and how wonderful if NBC would consider giving him the opportunity afforded his dad: MTP. The candidates under consideration are not worthy and too old. Tim was so young with such grand enthusiasm, the same hopeful smile is seen on the face of this remarkable young man. Please no Katie's or Brian's or David's...we want new refreshing with a mountain of political knowledge...thanks from a true MTP fan.

Posted by: maris on June 16, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

After watching the interview online with Matt Lauer and Luke Russert I realized how much I will miss his father. All of those Sunday's with Tim's smiling face filling our house with political discussion are some I my fondest memories. Luke is definitely his father's son and how wonderful if NBC would consider giving him the opportunity afforded his dad: MTP. The candidates under consideration are not worthy and too old. Tim was so young with such grand enthusiasm, the same hopeful smile is seen on the face of this remarkable young man. Please no Katie's or Brian's or David's...we want new refreshing with a mountain of political knowledge...thanks from a true MTP fan.

Posted by: maris on June 16, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Remember when FOX news brought in Katrina experts Don King and Richard Simmons? Thats who Goldberg really wants....heh.

Posted by: Jet on June 16, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

We get it that you really liked Timmeh, Maris. Now knock-off the multiple postings and go watch Lawerance Welk reruns on PBS.

Posted by: Jeff II on June 16, 2008 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Just get one honest, informed person in the mix.

Posted by: ferd on June 16, 2008 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

What's wrong with bringing three or four hard-hitting journalists to ask questions ... the show would turn into a slightly higher rent version of the late unlamented Crossfire.

Or ABC News This Week, with George Stepinthepoopolous.

Posted by: AndrewBW on June 16, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

It's very tragic, of course, that Tim Russert died at such a young age. But with all due respect, I don't think he was a good journalist or interviewer. He often dwelt at length on completely unimportant things, while going much too softly on people on other occasions.

After Joe Lieberman became Al Gore's running mate in 2000, he went on Meet the Press. Russert went out of his way to point out quotes which showed that Lieberman and Gore differed on many issues. But so what? As Gore's VP, what was Lieberman supposed to do? Say "Oh of course, Al Gore and I disagree about a lot"? What kind of a running mate does that? The whole thing was stupid and childish.

On another occasion, Russert had Condoleeza Rice on the show. He completely softballed her. He let her get away with bogus justifications for the war, such as the fact that Saddam gave money to the families of suicide bombers. He should have said, "But Saudi Arabia has given much more money to those families. Why aren't we invading Saudi Arabia?" He asked nothing of the sort, and Rice got away with her lies.

And Russert seemed incapable of realizing that inconsistency, and changing one's positions, isn't necessarily a bad thing. By his logic, Robert Byrd (active in the KKK during his youth) should have continued to be a racist his whole life, since his present day acceptance of blacks is inconsistent with how he was before.

Posted by: Lee on June 16, 2008 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Jonah Goldberg says that Tim Russert "executed his vision honorably, honestly, and with complete professionalism"

Of course the Doughy Pantload would say that. Russert admitted that he gave Bush Administration officials off-the-record status for their phone conversations by default, and, if memory serves me right, Cheney regarded MTP as the best venue for ensuring that the Administration line got aired.

Russert's death is a shame, and a tragedy for his family, but let's nip this hagiography in the bud. Russert probably was the quintessential example of a Washington journalist, but that's nothing to be proud of.

Posted by: Gregory on June 16, 2008 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

A panel would be great. They probably would have one lefty, one moderate, and two righties, increasing the number of lefties by a factor of infinity.

Posted by: reino on June 16, 2008 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Lee wrote: "It's very tragic, of course, that Tim Russert died at such a young age."

On the other hand, he died quickly and, probably, relatively painlessly. Many of the 4000 US troops and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians killed in the war of unprovoked aggression that Russert's fawning embrace of CheneyBush propaganda helped to enable died at a much younger age, and died slowly, in hideous agony and terror.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 16, 2008 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

If they had a moderator and a couple of experts like Dean Baker -- especially if they had experts like Dean Baker -- they wouldn't be able to book guests. Politicians today aren't going to go on national television and get exposed.

Posted by: pblsh on June 16, 2008 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Tim Russert was a "Trouper". He knew his stuff.I think he shoudn't be replaced untill after the elections. Let one thing in this country be in peace for the time being. His shoes are too big to filled. His death had made a lot of people start taking care of themselves. He was to young to die at such a young age.My age is the same a his. He will truely be missed by many people especially his family GOD BLESS YOU TIM.

Posted by: blanche on June 16, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Tim Russert was a "Trouper". He knew his stuff.I think he shoudn't be replaced untill after the elections. Let one thing in this country be in peace for the time being. His shoes are too big to filled. His death had made a lot of people start taking care of themselves. He was to young to die at such a young age.My age is the same a his. He will truely be missed by many people especially his family GOD BLESS YOU TIM.

Posted by: blanche on June 16, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

i do not hate to say it, the USA would be much better off had this mouthpiece for fascism been struck down many years ago.

any chance we could resurrect larry spivak[sic]?

Posted by: albertchampion on June 16, 2008 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

Please refrain from giving Jonah Goldberg any legitimacy. He does not deserve any. Thanks in advance.

Posted by: ed on June 16, 2008 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

I'd hire Bryant Gumbel; he's one of he best interviewers we've ever seen on the TeeVee. He's a no BS guy who consistently asked just the right questions and follow-ups. Did he come across as arrogant at times? Yes, but for a reason, he's very smart, well informed and doesn't suffer fools, charlatans and blow-hards with any grace.

Posted by: Mark on June 16, 2008 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe I can make up for griping, as a "grief nazi" on the popcorn thread, by referencing opinion that Russert was not so terrific as supposed. Sure, he wasn't mean or like the Fox clowns, but he did often steer debate away from critical genuine issues to chase the gotcha stuff (and BTW, try to see that SNL hosted by John McCain of all people, and the sketch about McC being interviewed by someone playing Russert - it's a scream.)

http://mediamatters.org/items/200802290020

Posted by: Neil B. on June 16, 2008 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

I say MTP goes with someone both tried-and-true and outside-the-box -- the guy the networks have gone to in the past to bump up ratings:

Charlie Manson.

You'd watch.

Posted by: Another Chris on June 16, 2008 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

The obvious replacement is Chris Matthews, who is Russert-like in many ways -- a former Democratic press guy who's become a status-quo-loving Village insider.

Mrs. Greenspan would be a sick joke as MTP host.

I prefer Olberman, but GE would never do that.

Remember, this is the show that, under St. Timmey's leadership, brought in a Pat Robertson propagandist as a semi-regular pundit/commentator.

And regularly gave the Bush/Cheney regime a lot more credit than it deserved.

Posted by: devtob on June 16, 2008 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

BILL MOYERS.

END OF STORY. Why all this discussion when Bill Moyers is out there? Someone explain this. Obvious choice. Simple choice. It works on every single fucking level.

Posted by: glutz78 on June 16, 2008 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

They should temporarily give it to Andrea Mitchell for 3 months and during that time find someone young to take over for the next 20 years. That person might be someone little known to us now - Tim wasn't exactly a household name when he got the job.

Posted by: Glacier on June 16, 2008 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think that "Mr. Potato Head" Russert was such an honorable man. Don't forget that asshole was up to his neck in the Valerie Plame case and should have had his fat ass thrown in prison. He spent more air time talking about Bill Clinton's sex life than George W. Bush's complicity in a scheme to commit mass murder. Adios, douche bag....

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 16, 2008 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

They should just go all the way and rename it "The McCain-Lieberman Goodtime Hour", since the show's already been such for a while now.

Posted by: The June Fool on June 16, 2008 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

I think we should continue the tradition of left wing propagandists on the TV networks pretending to be newsmen and reporters.

I believe all reporters should reveal their political leanings (as honest commentators generally do on talk radio), but of course the liberals will never do this as they want their distortions and agitprop to be taken as news and fact.

Posted by: Luther on June 16, 2008 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

He certainly dided young. I'm wondering if Russert knew something and was about to spill the beans.

Posted by: Byron on June 17, 2008 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

He certainly died young. I'm wondering if Russert knew something and was about to spill the beans.

Posted by: Byron on June 17, 2008 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

I actually like the panel idea. Of course it all depends on who comprises the panel. If they could put real progressive voices on the panel (along with the expected reactionaries) it could be useful-- and independent journalists would not counted as progressives.

Posted by: Dan on June 17, 2008 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Please, please, please. Do NOT give the Meet the Press Moderator chair to David Gregory. He does not listen to answers, he interrupts people constantly and he asks trivial questions. I would never listen again.

Posted by: Typical old white woman on June 17, 2008 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

If "Meet The Press" were to retain the current format that Tim Russert championed, the only good choice would be Chris Matthews. He is the only one that asks questions anything like Russert. The only problem is Matthews is going to have do something that he doesn't do well now, and that is to shut up and allow the guests to answer the question. Tim Russert was a perfect moderator because he never said or did anything to invoke a response or answer. Even when he made his guest answer a quote or clip of themselves, he allowed them to answer it alone and then moved on to the next question. This allowed the viewer to render their own opinion on the own. Tim Russert was masterful at not injecting any opinion of his own in any way in his interviews. I believe his love of jounalism in it's purest sense is what drove him, but his legal skills, research skills especially, is what set him apart from the pack. Tough shoes to fill in the least if not impossible.

Posted by: Kim Morrison on June 17, 2008 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

Gwen Ifill is the only name I've seen that I could see as a solo host. I like the idea of specialist, but are there enough television-ready specialists - it's a tough format for someone who is not only good on TV. All the so-called specialists I can think of with TV experience are shills. A

Posted by: MB on June 19, 2008 at 7:48 AM | PERMALINK
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