Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 24, 2009

LOOK WHO'LL BE ON THE TEEVEE (AGAIN).... ABC News announced the guest list for Sunday's episode of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," and you'll never guess who's going to be on. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will go first, followed by the guy who didn't win last year's presidential election.

Then, an EXCLUSIVE interview with Republican Senator John McCain, who is leading the call to send more troops to Afghanistan. Senator McCain has been supportive of the President's Afghanistan policy, but lately he's expressed concern about the current strategic review and says now is not the time to pull back.

Really, an exclusive interview with John McCain? What a rare occurrence!

Or not. For those keeping score at home, this will be McCain's 13th Sunday morning appearance since President Obama's inauguration in January. That's 36 Sundays, for an average of a McCain appearance every 2.7 weeks.

Since the president took office, McCain has been on "Meet the Press" twice (July 12 and March 29), "Face the Nation" three times (August 30, April 26, and February 8), CNN's "State of the Union" twice (August 2 and February 15), and "Fox News Sunday" three times (July 2, March 8, and January 25). His appearance on "This Week" on Sunday will be his third visit in five months (September 27, August 23, and May 10).

I can appreciate the fact that Stephanopoulos may perceive McCain as having a unique perspective and/or expertise on Afghanistan, but he doesn't. For one thing, there are plenty of other congressional Republicans who've supported the president's policy, but are worried about a shift in direction. For another, when it comes to U.S. policy in Afghanistan, McCain is frequently confused.

But it's the Sunday shows' obsession with McCain that continues to be so absurd. The Arizona Republican, after a wildly unsuccessful presidential campaign, is just another conservative member of a 40-seat minority. McCain isn't playing a role in any important negotiations; he hasn't unveiled any significant pieces of legislation; he isn't being targeted as a swing vote on any major bills; and he's not a member of the GOP leadership. He's just another far-right senator, with precious little to say that couldn't have been predicted in advance. Indeed, we already know exactly what he's going to say this week.

And yet, the networks can't seem to help themselves.

Eric Boehlert recently checked and found that John Kerry, in the eight months after Bush's second inaugural, made three appearances on the Sunday morning shows. McCain's total, obviously, more than quadruples that number.

As Boehlert concluded, "[A]fter Kerry lost in November, the press walked away from him. After McCain lost in November, the press still crowds around him."

Steve Benen 9:50 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (41)

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Who is his base?

Posted by: TonyB on September 24, 2009 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

It's not a defense of putting McCain to note that John Kerry is boring.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 24, 2009 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Reality and actual knowledge is always boring in today's world.

Posted by: howie on September 24, 2009 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Well, yes, that is a lot of appearances, but McCain is just so maverick-y.

Posted by: josef on September 24, 2009 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

The press is still salivating over the delicious barbeque he served them at one of his many homes.

Posted by: martin on September 24, 2009 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

It seems like he's on so much more often. I'm glad it's only about twice a month.

I'd ask what he could possibly have to say that is useful, but Disney isn't looking for that. They just want to kill time.

Posted by: freelunch on September 24, 2009 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

Does anyone still watch Stephanopoulos?

Posted by: E. D. on September 24, 2009 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. McCain believes that he'll return to national prominence someday, therefore it's paramount that he maintain media exposure.

Folks, we had an election last year. Is it just me or are others getting depressed over the MASSIVE onslaught from the right?

Everywhere I turn it seems some wacko is getting more and more press time.

It doesn't matter how bizarre a story is, just destroy Obama's momentum across the policy landscape.

Thanks, John for your "leadership."

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on September 24, 2009 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Doesn't McCain risk being overexposed? It's getting to the point you know, where his appearances don't even make headlines. I mean, that is the standard, isn't it?

Posted by: Danp on September 24, 2009 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

Depressing and pathetic as it is, the networks know that a.) McCain is a publicity hog, and his ego will never let him turn down an invitation to be on the teevee machine, b.) they don't have to pay him much and c.) like the crazy, doddering old uncle you bring down from the attic at parties to get him drunk and watch him stumble around for entertainment, he'll always spout some total nonsense that the gasbags and bobbleheads on Sunday morning teevee can then endlessly pretend to "discuss."

Posted by: electrolite on September 24, 2009 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

ABC needs to retitle the show as "gasbags anonymous" Every episode starts off with "Hi, I'm John and I'm a gasbag."

Posted by: bdbd on September 24, 2009 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Howie writes: "Reality and actual knowledge is always boring in today's world."

No, it's not. And that attitude, besides being WRONG, reflects precisely why progressives get the shit kicked out of them on a regular basis.

Al Franken knows what he's talking about, and he's not boring. Barney Frank is "always boring"?

Face it -- you said something spectacularly stooopid, which half a second's thought would have shown even to YOU was dumb.

But you didn't take that half a second to think about it -- and THAT is why progressives get the shit kicked out of us.

Because it's so much easier to preen, to dismiss our failure to dominate political discourse by being interesting, with the oh, so precious "actual knowledge is always boring..."

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 24, 2009 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

This Week is delayed out here until 3:00pm HST, and with the six-hour time difference between Hawaii and the east coast, that means it runs up against NBC's NFL Sunday Night Football, which is broadcast live. Guess which show takes priority in my house?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 24, 2009 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

They think he should have won. Democrats will continue to say nothing about it.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on September 24, 2009 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

At least it isn't Lynn Cheney.

Posted by: Harlow Wilcox on September 24, 2009 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK


Maybe this is more of that conservative "performance art" that you keep bringing to my attention?


Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on September 24, 2009 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

And McCain is any less boring than Kerry?

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on September 24, 2009 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

And I am sure, absolutely sure that the cable talking heads are going to be all over him about his "overexposure"

Idiocracy, the documentary.

Posted by: johnR on September 24, 2009 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Are there no young or at least younger politicos to interview? I'm just younger than McCain and we know what he thinks how about someone who fought in one of our recent wars? It;s time to let the next generation have a say.

Posted by: Dan Maceda on September 24, 2009 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

It doesn't make much sense, but at least McCain is occupyng time and space that could be going to someone who will actually run against Obama in 2012. If we see this continue 2010, there are going to be some angry Romney/Huck people. Not Palin, she's not going on regardless.

Posted by: John Dillinger on September 24, 2009 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

"I can appreciate the fact that Stephanopoulos may perceive McCain as having a unique perspective and/or expertise on Afghanistan, but he doesn't"

but..but ...but
he was a low ranking officer who spent most of his time in a war that we lost in a pow camp

if that dont scream "experteese" nothing does

like he said during the campaign "I know how to win wars, my friends"

Posted by: jefft452 on September 24, 2009 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

McCain is a link to the Republican past, not a window on the future of his party. Actually, Americans of both parties should be grateful that real news time is not being given to the Limabaugh, Hannity, Bachmann, Palin, Boehner, McConnell, crowd of kooks and fearmongers that represents the leadership of the Republican party today. I see little evidence that the party has anyone among its leadership who can represent a centrist view for the future.

Posted by: SC_Observer on September 24, 2009 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Can't say I really mind having the opposition team regularly personified by a loser.

Posted by: converse on September 24, 2009 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

McCain's 15 minutes of condescension aside, it sure is fun to watch Paul Krugman explain the factual way of the world to George Will.

Anyway, thank God there's still PBS.

Posted by: JJC on September 24, 2009 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

I have to say, I was sort of relieved to see that it wasn't Liz Cheney, but I guess she's been used as one of the "pundits" during the last segment.
She's the one I find most repulsive, and there is absolutely no reason to ever have her on any show except that the media is colluding with the Cheneys to defend him against possible, and well-deserved, criminal charges or investigations.

It also helps to divert attention from the fact that the media never said squat when this was all happening during the previous administration.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on September 24, 2009 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

They keep reverting to McCain because they can't think of a more plausible representative of the Republican Party. Can you?

Posted by: K on September 24, 2009 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe its a really good thing that a lot of folks just don't watch those shows--younger folks, Latinos, many others who voted for Obama...

Keep Obama on Letterman I say!

Posted by: Let's all tune out on Sunday on September 24, 2009 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

You know, if the Sunday "news" shows were dropped and replaced with reruns of Mighty Mouse cartoons, the level of education in America would probably go up.

There is no more complete waste of airtime anywhere on the planet than the networks' attempt to prove their "public spiritedness."

Of course, all the DC asswipes would be up in arms, not getting the chance to have their public blowjob.

I guess we need to buy Stephanopoulos a new set of kneepads.

Posted by: TCinLA on September 24, 2009 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

"...like the crazy, doddering old uncle you bring down from the attic at parties to get him drunk and watch him stumble around for entertainment..."

Bingo, electrolite! Unfortunately, the GOP senate is now composed largely of crazy, doddering old aunts and uncles (Grassley,Inohofe,Coburn- fill in the blank.) In Strom Thurmond's later years, I saw a commentary to the effect that the Senate had become his nursing home. Now, the a substantial portion of the GOP Senate is headed that way

Posted by: dcsusie on September 24, 2009 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

"Then, an EXCLUSIVE interview with Republican Senator John McCain ..."

What does EXCLUSIVE mean in this context?

a) only ABC personnel will be allowed to be present and ask questions on this particular occasion
b) John McCain has promised that from here on in he will not appear on any other TV channel and not give interviews to any journalists other than those affiliated with ABC
c) as far as Afghanistan is concerned, John McCain will spread his insights only via interviews on ABC

My preference would be for these possibilities to apply in the order of b) >> c) >> a), but I sort of have a hunch that I'm going to be sadly disappointed.

Posted by: SRW1 on September 24, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the warning Steve. I am going to spend my Sunday morning doing something else. I am glad you will be watching so I won't have too.

The most dangerous place in the world is the space between John McCain and a functioning camera. The man is an old fool, but on ABC he will be surrounded by other old fools like George Will, Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts. Of course, the other George isn't old, but he is a fool.

None of the Sunday morning shows are worth a tinkers damn anymore. All of the networks would do well to fire all involved down to and including the interns and replace them with professional comedians, mimes, magicians and clowns from Ringling Brothers. No doubt they would be more entertaining. I would guess they would also have more valid insights into the world's problems.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 24, 2009 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Ron, the other George is my husband's age. Take it from me, that makes him OLD!

Posted by: dcsusie on September 24, 2009 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Another way of looking at it: McCain will have been on 13 times in 36 weeks -- an average, if you will, of about 1 appearance every third week. Unbelievable.

Posted by: John Wilheim on September 24, 2009 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

If John Kerry and the other national Dems would just invest in a shiny, new tire swing and throw some good parties, this whole problem would go away.

I'm only halfway kidding.

Posted by: danimal on September 24, 2009 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

I hope they ask him his opinion on whether Obama is overexposed.

Posted by: Bryce on September 24, 2009 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't Sam Donaldson dear? Just asking.

Posted by: st john on September 24, 2009 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

OOPS! I guess not. I Googled his name. Since I don't watch any Sunday Head Shots, I don't know who is and who isn't. As far as I'm concerned, they may as well be dead. They are that relevant!

Posted by: st john on September 24, 2009 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

OOPS! again. I meant dead, not dear. Some may also think he is dear. Nice Hairpiece!

Posted by: st john on September 24, 2009 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't we be worried McCain is getting overexposed? Why, he's on even more (LOTS more) than President Obama!

Posted by: petesmom on September 24, 2009 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Back when I used to work in cable news we used to call people like this "lens lice", or suggest that they were "unavoidable for comment."

Posted by: Jersey Tomato on September 24, 2009 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

JK's conscience -- it's not the McCain is LESS boring than Kerry. K is right, ABC's bookers are looking for a plausible Republican voice on national security issues like Afghanistan, and there really isn't any. McCain says yes, so they put him on.

But that's not the problem -- the problem isn't that they're almost as boring as we are, it's that we're NOT more interesting.

(And let's face it -- the two kids dress up and sting Acorn on video is a LOT more entertaining than anything any progressive has done lately.)

We have no shortage of interesting well-informed characters -- I named two, Franken and Frank, but there are lots of others. And in the end, it's not a lack of personalities, it's a failure of vision.

Why aren't we driving a narrative about Coburn and Cantor telling constituents who are literally crying for health insurance to pray and pay, and if they can't pay, pray harder?

Why isn't every Democrat in America waving beach sandals at Republican town halls, to ask them to explain their flip flops on mandates, etc?

Why don't Democrats INVARIABLY refer to the state of the economy as "recovering from the Bush crash"?

None of those are boring. LOL -- but instead we do what the #6 fielder likes, which is to bitch at each other about the other guy driving the narrative OR, as Howie couldn't help himself, sniff about how "knowledge is boring".

Typical progressive bullshit.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 24, 2009 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK



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