Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 13, 2011

MAYBE MCCAIN FIGURED OUT WHO'S ON THE 'RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY'.... I really have retired my ongoing count of John McCain's Sunday show appearances. I'm sure folks have gotten the point -- Sunday show bookers continue to be obsessed with McCain, and they shouldn't be.

And with that in mind, I won't mention that the senator is making his 29th appearance in the last two years this morning, just like I also won't mention that McCain will be on "Face the Nation" for the second time in just four weeks.

I will mention, though, that McCain's wasn't scheduled to be on "Face the Nation," which had booked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to appear, but host Bob Schieffer explained Friday that the show bumped Reid to get McCain (again) as part of the show's coverage of developments in Egypt.

Faiz Shakir's take was spot-on.

It's sadly telling that Schieffer, a veteran Sunday morning host, feels the need to frequently turn to a Republican Senator to discuss a foreign policy issue, rather than hosting any number of qualified Democratic voices to opine on Egypt.

McCain has waffled on his views regarding the pro-democracy protests. Initially, he expressed fear about the movement, calling it a dangerous "virus" that could spread throughout the Middle East. But following President Hosni Mubarak's decision to step down, McCain issued a statement applauding the "Egyptian people" for "beginning ... their country's transition to democracy." Moreover, in late January, McCain told CNN it would not be wise for the Obama administration to "cut [Mubarak] loose." A few days later, he was demanding Obama call on Mubarak to resign immediately.

Right, and this is partly why I started keeping track of McCain's appearances in the first place. The media in general, and Sunday show bookers in specific, consider the Arizona senator a knowledgeable, credible expert on foreign affairs and national security. If there's evidence to support this assumption, McCain's kept it well hidden -- on CNN's Sunday morning show two weeks ago, he urged President Obama to support "the right side of history" in Egypt, but couldn't quite explain which side that is.

There are actual experts on Egypt and U.S. policy in the region. It's a shame "Face the Nation" doesn't want to book them.

Postscript: Looking over the guest lists for all of the Sunday shows, viewers will see two Republican senators (McCain, Graham), three Republican House members (Boehner, Ryan, Schilling), three likely Republican presidential candidates (Barbour, Gingrich, Pawlenty) ... and zero Democrats from Congress or the Obama administration.

In other words, it's a typical Sunday.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (35)

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Thanks for the heads up, Steve. That gives me an extra half hour of 'free time' this morning. I think I'll spend it here, for the INTELLIGENT discussion. . .

Posted by: DAY on February 13, 2011 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

I guess McCain's like a comfortable pair of pajama's for some of the people.

You know, it's Sunday, they want to wear their favorite comfy PJ's, even though the crotch is worn through and your balls hang out, there are permamenent skid marks, and the buttons are loose.

But hey, it's ok, it's Sunday morning, and - no one is watching... (ANYMORE YOU F*CKING IDIOTS because you have the same Republican liers and imbeciles on EVERY WEEK!)!
Clinton's is Pres - bring in the clowns.
Little Boots is Pres - bring in the clowns.
Obama is Pres - bring in the clowns.
And mostly, it's the same Republican clowns!
McCain's bad enough, but at least he's an active Senator. Why, oh why, must I be subjected to watching a disgraced former Speaker of the House give St. John a run for the money in number of appearances?

Well, I don't watch. Not anymore!

Just a little while back though, I held out some hope for Christiane Amanpour, but she' been a disappointment - but far and away better than Gregory and Bob.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 13, 2011 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

McCain aside (in fact, out of the picture), more often than not your insights are merely conventional, Benen. In a democratic party establishment kind of way.

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Posted by: JW on February 13, 2011 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

NO Democrats? Just the patricians talking to themselves? I was thinking about McCain's Whack-a-Mole routine, and it must be connected to some fantasy about what a McCain presidency would have been like. Just saying.

Posted by: nyc on February 13, 2011 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

TeeVee is last century's technology. Real people don't bother with it now. Let the old foggies bask in it, if it's what coddles their fantasies.

Posted by: Goldilocks on February 13, 2011 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Benen...

Your constant dissing of President McCain is annoying.

He is a regular on the Sunday Talking Head Circuit because:
1) He can provide insights that virtually nobody else can.
2) Because he has been on both sides of almost all major issues.
3) He provides surprises because, other than bashing Obama, you never know which side of an issue he will take on any given Sunday.

Posted by: SadOldVet on February 13, 2011 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

There's a reason I don't watch these shows.

Posted by: dp on February 13, 2011 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

I have long ago stopped watching the shows. We know Gregory is a republican, so is Scheiffer, the only person I sometimes watch is Fareed Zacharia.

Posted by: js on February 13, 2011 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

More evidence of the vast left wing/LSM/socialist conspiracy.

Posted by: Marc on February 13, 2011 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

nyc, exacty- the patricians rule the Sun line ups and the MSM in general.

Not only do we suffer republican neocons every Sun, but when discussing the economy, the default guests represent deficit hawks, neo-liberal, tax cutters. The day Obama was inaugurated, the deficit crisis was the lede economic story. OMG, we have a deficit crisis- austerity now!

If the Sun shows decide to book a REGULAR panel of Kenseyian economists and progressive democrats, I might tune in. For now, never.

Posted by: jcgrim on February 13, 2011 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

Oh give them a break. It's not like there are any Democratic former presidential candidates with international relations cred. You couldn't expect them to book that guy from Massachusetts or something.

Posted by: Stella Barbone on February 13, 2011 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Try finding any Democrat, who, has ever sat with Schieffer at Texas Rangers' games in Arlington. Like hangs with like.

Posted by: berttheclock on February 13, 2011 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

During the Bush administration, the excuse was "well, it's a Republican administration."

After Democrats gained a majority in the House and Senate, and then the White House, the excuse was "well, we have to hear from the minority."

Now that Republicans have a majority in the House, the excuse is "well, we need to hear from the majority."

For Sunday morning chat show hosts know which side their financial bread is buttered on -- the "right" side.

Posted by: karen marie on February 13, 2011 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

@SadOldVet, you're kidding, right?

Posted by: karen marie on February 13, 2011 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Thank god they're a dying breed, as is the majority of the Fox News audience.

How sad is this country? Sunday morning shows without one Democrat. All the news shows are going Fox lite because they are chasing the same audience of scared, stupid, bigoted codgers (not to mention who's doing the interviewing). And since everything on the teevee has to be about ratings, there ya go. The old person coverage.

Liberal media my ass.

Btw, did anyone catch Cenk From The Young Turks on MSNBC the other night? He was great. He's smart and passionate. While I like Ed, he's a little light upstairs. He doesn't know enough to rebut bullshit. Cenk does. I wonder if they're prepping him for a spot.

Posted by: MsJoanne on February 13, 2011 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, you're obviously missing the point about McCain's position on Egypt. It's the same as his position on EVERYTHING these days...

If Obama is for it, I'm against it.

If Obama is doing something, his approach MUST be wrong and I must complain about it. If something Obama does succeeds, I must claim I was for it BEFORE it happened (no matter the facts) and say "See, I was RIGHT."

Obama could go TV today and announce that Biden was resigning and that he was, in the interest of unity, nominating McCain as his VP. McCain would simply grump that he will ONLY accept the nomination on the provision that Obama subsequently resign and make HIM President.

Posted by: Eeyore on February 13, 2011 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

I wish a lib/dem/progressive boycott could be arranged. See how good the ratings are then. As a byproduct it would be fun to watch them try to cut into the Fox News market share in a big way.

Posted by: Teri on February 13, 2011 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

For crying out loud - Yeah, I'm crying out loud (I just dropped my coffee mug on my little left toe!)

Anyway, it is common tradition to go to church in the early morning to get the local faith, and then return home to get the national faith. Who else would corporate American rely upon for the national faith, than Republican leaders!

Shit, Christ and Republicans are almost one in the same! (At least, for Republicans, in the canyons of their own minds!) -Kevo

p.s. self-deprecation can be refreshing as I have been a Republican for the past 35 years. (Everyone can see efforts to keep the party leaning toward the middle have failed miserably, and now in a small way I've begun to feel the way Erasmus must have felt just before he was excommunicated for trying to hold onto the middle in a much larger conflict, but one that still resonates today among our church going loved ones who continue to rush home from worship to see John McCain who looks as old as God!

Posted by: kevo on February 13, 2011 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

So let's start writing these guys and complain

7:34 p.m. | Updated ABC announced on Friday that it had appointed Ben Sherwood, a former executive producer of its “Good Morning America” program, as the next president of its news division.

"It's pretty telling that Steve Capus, who's the president of NBC News, will be reporting directly to Steve Burke," says Brian Lawlor, senior vice president of The E.W. Scripps Co.'s television division and chairman of the NBC Affiliates Board. "Comcast is making a bunch of changes in senior management, but they're not touching NBC News."

David Rhodes, the head of Bloomberg Television in the United States, has been hired to be the new president of CBS News.

Over the past year all three networks have had the presidents of their news divisions replaced.

SOOO?.. Let's start complaining. The only reason that the koooky Republicans are on all the time is the the old Republicans party people complain a lot.

So let's add this to the general list of stuff to do. Certainly it would not take much effort to write these guys... (Note not one girl)

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on February 13, 2011 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

I, too, stopped watching these shows a long time ago. I'm guessing that the principal reason you see McCain on so often is that he never turns down an invitation to bloviate and many of his Republican colleagues aren't interested in appearing. I also think that there are a few of them that even the mainstream media don't want to allow on--Inhofe, for example, Bunning (in the last Congress), etc.

Unfortunately, in an earlier era Meet the Press and its offspring looked to inform; now they look to make news. To talk about Egypt, why bring on someone as uninformed and, frankly, unintelligent, as McCain? Why not a State Department expert or another MidEast expert? Why not John Kerry, one of the most knowledgeable foreign policy Senators? I don't think the choices these shows make are partisan-inspired so much as they are designed to spark newsworthy statements that will bring attention to the show.

Posted by: DRF on February 13, 2011 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Bob Schieffer's brother was/is? an ambassador appointed by George W Bush and Schieffer is a rich, old friend of the Bush family. McCain is a national embarrassment.

Posted by: max on February 13, 2011 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Looking over the guest lists for all of the Sunday shows, viewers will see two Republican senators (McCain, Graham), three Republican House members (Boehner, Ryan, Schilling), three likely Republican presidential candidates (Barbour, Gingrich, Pawlenty) ... and zero Democrats from Congress or the Obama administration.

Can we now lay to rest the myth that there is a liberal media? If there were ever any evidence that the right wing is running the MSM, this is it.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on February 13, 2011 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Well, what do you expect from that there liberal media?

Posted by: ComradeAnon on February 13, 2011 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

The corporate MSM bookers have decided the Dems don't exist, or couldn't possibly have anything worth hearing to say. Aside from bloggers and professional journalists watching this weekly mutual admiration society just to hear what they're saying, there aren't many people in the reality based universe who pay any real attention. It wouldn't occur to me to tune in on a Sunday morning so I can give myself more acid reflux from their idiotic talking points. Likewise network 'news' infotainment all week long.

Intelligent folks now get their 'news' from multiple sources on the web. That's the 21st century. The couch potatoes and rocking chair devotees who still watch the tube are anachronisms, and we shouldn't really get too upset because there is nothing, but nothing, that will penetrate their ossified skulls anyway.

Posted by: rrk1 on February 13, 2011 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

I have no doubt that this deck is stacked in the Republicans' favor, but we also need to ask how much of this problem comes down to effort. Is the Democratic media operation aggressive about trying to get their leaders booked on the shows? Is the relevant Democratic communications director raising holy hell when the majority leader of the United States fucking Senate getting bumped for a backfuckingbencher from the minority party? Are we pitching aggressively every week and telling the bookers that we're keeping score and they aren't doing their jobs?
Let's lose the victim's mindset and start looking at what our side should be doing better.

Posted by: the_dan on February 13, 2011 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Ok. This is the strongest sign we have had yet that when the Sunday morning shows are dominated by Republicans it is NOT because there are no Democrats seeking to appear.

Think about it. Face the Nation had the Senate Majority Leader (a Democrat) already booked! They could easily have asked him about Egypt rather than whatever topic they had planned on. Instead, they kicked him to the side to brought on a Republican who had already shown that he has no insights to offer by taking multiple, incompatible positions at different times in the cirsis.

Posted by: tanstaafl on February 13, 2011 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

as a very, very minor defense of Sunday morning television (other than Fareed, who needs no defending), Candy Crowly had a pretty hilarious ending to her show today.

She asked viewers "guess which of these three Republicans is running for President?" and then showed a clip of McCain saying Obama handled Egypt as well as circumstances permitted, a clip of Boehner praising the administration for doing a good job, and Pawlenty saying the Obama administration did a lousy job on the Egypt issue. It was a little subtle for the typical low-info voter, but still pretty funny.

Posted by: zeitgeist on February 13, 2011 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK
Looking over the guest lists for all of the Sunday shows, viewers will see two Republican senators (McCain, Graham), three Republican House members (Boehner, Ryan, Schilling), three likely Republican presidential candidates (Barbour, Gingrich, Pawlenty) ... and zero Democrats from Congress or the Obama administration.

begin snark mode:

Damned liberal media! These Republicans are so far to the left they might as well be Democrats! They need to get some Real Conservatives on to tell it like it really is! Someone like Sarah Palin!

end snark mode

Posted by: nerd on February 13, 2011 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Here a thought: "Follow the money."

I think this pattern is circumstantial evidence for payoffs being made to bribe the networks to continually book dimwitted Republicans.

Posted by: robert on February 13, 2011 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

I wish a lib/dem/progressive boycott could be arranged. See how good the ratings are then. -- Teri, @9:48

How many Libs and Dems are watching this crap anyway? Other than the "lefty" bloggers, that is? They do, so we don't have to, and most of the rest of us are happy with that division of labour. No? What I'm trying to say is that threatening with a boycott would be pointless/have little-to-none impact on the ratings, because, in essence, a quiet boycott is what most of us practice already.

Even if they promised to balance out the field vis-a-vis party alliance, it's doubtful that things would be improved much. The right-bend can be expressed not just via who gets invited, but also through what sort of questions are asked of whom. Remember that old joke about St Peter asking the new applicants for Heaven a question, to make sure they belong? All the males are asked to spell "God" and all the females are asked to spell "Czechoslovakia". Same here; I doubt the questions tossed at Repubs and Dems would be the same. And we'd be fretting about *that* :)

Posted by: exlibra on February 13, 2011 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

"...the show bumped Reid to get McCain..." and "...and zero Democrats from Congress or the Obama Administration." Steve Benen

I recall quite a few people b*tching on this blog about how the Democrats always fail at getting their message out. And how, pray tell, can they, when the MSM bumps Senate Majority Leader Reid to schedule, of all possible people, John McCain?
Short of taking Rupert Murdoch hostage, of course...

Posted by: Doug on February 13, 2011 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

I am so thankful to see Senator McCain on the Sunday morning news shows. Frankly his presence makes me feel safe, which is not the case with Obama. McCain has excellent International recognition and relations, and he speaks directly and with common sense on the issues. I am hoping he will listen to his supporters who want him to run for President in 2012. I sure hope he does! McCain in 2012!

Posted by: Karen on February 13, 2011 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

Simple. He's the Republican shadow president.

Posted by: Mike Goldman on February 14, 2011 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

I tried to link to this article to FB, but the link only takes people to the article on top.

Posted by: trog69 on February 14, 2011 at 2:50 AM | PERMALINK

Karen, I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not. John McCain is a doddering and cranky oldtimer whose time has come and gone. He's been so wrong on so many issues, where to begin?

The Sunday shows are so lopsided in their coverage I don't bother to watch any more either.

Posted by: Irene on February 14, 2011 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK



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