Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 23, 2010

IF IT'S SUNDAY.... CBS News's "Face the Nation" is touting its line-up for tomorrow's show.

Coming Up: Jan. 24, 2010: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.

And a roundtable discussion on the Supreme Court campaign ad ruling with CBS News' Nancy Cordes and Jan Crawford.

Yes, we've reached the first anniversary of President Obama's inauguration, so it's time once again to have John McCain appear on yet another Sunday morning talk show.

For those keeping score, this will be McCain's 19th appearance on a Sunday morning talk show since Obama took office 12 months ago. That's an average of one appearance every 2.9 weeks for a year -- more than any other public official in the country.

Since the president's inauguration, McCain has been on "Meet the Press" three times (December 6, July 12, and March 29), "This Week" three times (September 27, August 23, and May 10), "Fox News Sunday" four times (December 20, July 2, March 8, and January 25), and CNN's "State of the Union" four times (January 10, October 11, August 2, and February 15). His appearance on "Face the Nation" will be his fifth in the last year (January 24, October 25, August 30, April 26, and February 8).

Congratulations, "Face the Nation," you're now in the lead.

And who, exactly, is John McCain? He's the one who lost the 2008 presidential race badly, and is now just another reactionary conservative senator in the minority. He's not in the party leadership; he has no role in any important negotiations on any issue; and he's offered no significant pieces of legislation. By all appearances, McCain isn't even especially influential among his own GOP colleagues.

There's just no reason for the media's obsession with McCain. None. Nineteen Sunday-show appearances in 12 months? It's farcical.

Of course, if "Face the Nation" is going to go to the trouble of having McCain on once again, Bob Schieffer could, in theory, ask the senator to explain why he humiliated himself during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing this week. For those who missed it, McCain insisted that Christmas/underwear bomber Umar Abdulmutallab bought a one-way ticket from Nigeria to Detroit. That's completely wrong. When National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter tried to explain reality, McCain became visibly annoyed, forcing Leiter to apologize for being correct.

If our media culture made sense, television producers wouldn't reward this.

Steve Benen 9:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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Comments

Steve, you are absolutely correct about the over exposure of Double Talk. But, does this mean we should not thank his wife and daughter for supporting Same Sex Marriage and opposing Prop 8?

Without his exposure, they would have no stature on this important subject.

Posted by: berttheclock on January 23, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Steve,

I actually think that this week is one in which McCain's appearance does make sense. As co-author of McCain-Feingold, his opinion on the Supreme Court ruling is probably one that is worth hearing (though, why we couldn't have Feingold, I don't know).

Posted by: Shantyhag on January 23, 2010 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

OK, where is the journalism to find out what's going on here? Is it that the Democrats and the administration are flat lousy at getting themselves out there for the interviews, or is it the programs who are only asking the usual suspects? It's one thing to keep a scorecard of McCain's and Gingrich's appearances, but WHY is more important here.

Posted by: artsmith on January 23, 2010 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

The media is lazy, very VERY lazy. It wants to fill time with the least amount of work possible, so we keep seeing the same faces recycling the same ready-made story lines. Why put more Dems on on (you know, the party that's in power) when you can just call up your buddy John McCain? And really, the republican leader bench is pretty shallow these days, who else are they going to call to fill that hour/half hour? Harry Reid?

Nah, Reid might actually give out an insight into current thinking, rather warmed over McCain with a side of teabag.

Posted by: TomStewart on January 23, 2010 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with the other commenter. You are being lazy. Yes, McCain has been on a ridiculous number of times. But this is one week where it makes sense given the SCOTUS decision turning the country over to the highest bidder.

Posted by: SW on January 23, 2010 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

As others have noted, the terrible decision by the Supremes does make McCain relevant. Better John, than George Will coming on to gush over "the Fresh Breeze of Freedom" of that decision.

Posted by: berttheclock on January 23, 2010 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Shantyhag said:
I actually think that this week is one in which McCain's appearance does make sense. As co-author of McCain-Feingold, his opinion on the Supreme Court ruling is probably one that is worth hearing

But didn't McCain repudiate McCain-Feingold during the 2008 campaign (along with every other thing is his legislative history that made him "mavericky").

Russ Feingold would have been a better guest.


Posted by: SteveT on January 23, 2010 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

I have been reading this complaint, particularly from Atrios, for a year now. Here's my question: does the Obama Administration (or its DNC wing) have a strong war room operation that focuses tightly and relentlessly on identifying good TV speakers with good messaging and framing and placing them onto the TV and cable shows? Because unless you _work_ to get your message out and the frames set it ain't gonna just happen.

Cranky

Based on what we have seen with health care messaging, my guess is a bit fat no, the don't.

Posted by: Cranky Observer on January 23, 2010 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

SteveT is right, a better guest, at least one with a bit more consistency on this issue, would be Russ Feingold. But McCain has his own makeup kit and cot in the back...

Posted by: TomStewart on January 23, 2010 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

"This is good for John McCain!"

On the serious side, I agree that his take on the SCOTUS decision is one I might want to hear from him on the network gasbag round-ups.
When's my other favorite gasbag bloviator, Newt, on again? I shouldn't worry. It won't be long...

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 23, 2010 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Don't hold your breath hoping for Bobby-boy to correct McAce. Remember his astonished look when McAce's credentials for Foreign Relations was challenged by Wes Clark?

As far as this SCOTUS decision, all they did was legalize the reality that has been pervasive since the dollar was invented.: "Money talks". Corporate america has had one hand in politicians pockets since the word pocket was invented. The other hand was used to deposit the profits made from the pocket deposit into the banks that control the other half of this once proud Republic.

I think Meet the Press needs to give McAce a gold watch for his 20th visit.

Posted by: stevio on January 23, 2010 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

McCain clearly has a great booking agent.

Posted by: Quiddity on January 23, 2010 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Lazy? Perhaps.

Or, perhaps not. NBC/ABC/CBS are megalithic media moneymakers.

And there is an entire industry devoted to telling networks how many eyeballs are watching any given show, and what the income, age, and education levels of those eyeballs are.

Beating a dead horse, I say again: TeeVee is a BUSINESS.

Posted by: DAY on January 23, 2010 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

They need to McCain to balance out New Gingrich, another important current Republican congressional leader ... oh, wait, sorry.

Posted by: menthol on January 23, 2010 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

I'de be interested to see a Neilsen rating graph for all these shows over the past 10 years. How many people still tune in to watch this warmed-over dogshit?

Posted by: bdop4 on January 23, 2010 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

The media is lazy, very VERY lazy. It wants to fill time with the least amount of work possible, so we keep seeing the same faces recycling the same ready-made story lines.

No. We keep seeing the same faces recycling the same storylines because that's exactly what the audiences of these shows want. When McCain stops making money for them, he'll stop being a guest.

Someone asked why Feingold isn't on today. See above.

Posted by: Allen on January 23, 2010 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Cult of Personality plain and simple! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on January 23, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

He's the one who lost the 2008 presidential race badly

Lost it by the same margin that Scott Brown won. McCain would win today if there was a rematch in view of Obama's dismal record and demonstrated lack of leadership ability

Posted by: Disillusioned Progressive on January 23, 2010 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

See Steve, the overexposure of John McCain on the Sunday Morning TV circuit has a pretty simple reason: With his candidacy for the presidency having failed, John McCain no longer needs to pretend that he has an intact marriage and a family he has to attend to during weekends. So he spends his Sunday Mornings by chatting to his friends. It just so happens that his friends are hosting TV shows, that's all.

Posted by: eserwe on January 23, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

"I'de be interested to see a Neilsen rating graph for all these shows over the past 10 years. How many people still tune in to watch this warmed-over dogshit?"
Good question, bdop4. They lost the "smart people" a long time ago. Watching these shows puts viewers at risk of drastically lowering their I.Q.'s. Just a beltway mutual admiration society.

Posted by: Patrick Starr on January 23, 2010 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Steve,

I know you are obsessed by this, but who really cares? Nobody outside the beltway still watches Sunday morning talk shows anyway....have you checked their ratings lately?

Posted by: mfw13 on January 23, 2010 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Johnny Mac on FTN-- no big deal.
Johnny Mac on FTN for an actual reason-- Astounding!

Posted by: Stan H on January 23, 2010 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

The media is lazy, very VERY lazy. It wants to fill time with the least amount of work possible, so we keep seeing the same faces recycling the same ready-made story lines.

Posted by: TomStewart

Actually, it should be 'media are' ... media is a plural and by definition includes people such as rachel maddow, keith olbermann and the folks at the washington monthly and other outlets who are decidely not lazy.

i agree that this is one time when mccain's appearance on a sunday show makes sense. however, he is incredibly overused by these shows and their producers are lazy to rely on old faithful instead of seeking out other faces and voices. it's bad journalism and makes these shows less useful to the public at large that watches them, but from purely a partisan stand point, who cares? most if not all of the air time he gets would have gone to another republican anyway, and mccain isn't likely to be running for national office ever again. it might help him with voters in AZ, but he's likely to hold his seat anyway.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on January 23, 2010 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain (R-Media).

Posted by: dr sardonicus on January 23, 2010 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Will John McCain still stand to McCain-Feingold?

Posted by: eserwe on January 23, 2010 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

J. McCain's "Q" rating (a calculus of recognition and approval) is probably one of the highest among those who actually watch the sunday shows, and that must be part of how the booking is done, along with his willingness to talk about anything and sound like he believes himself.

Posted by: elisabeth on January 23, 2010 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK
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