The Sunday talk shows long ago became a talking point oasis for both Democrats and Republicans. A place where big shots come in to spin. Jay Rosen is pushing them to do better by allowing St. Petersburg Times’ PolitiFact to fact check what guests say. Interim host of “This Week,” Jake Tapper, has already met the challenge. David Gregory has refused, saying simply “People can fact-check Meet the Press every week on their own terms.”
David Gregory evidently feels that after watching “Meet the Press” his audience is supposed to Google what’s been said to see if lies were spread. He doesn’t feel he has any responsibility but to ask questions, and that it’s not his job to call his guests on spin or out right hyperbole being used in place of truth. After all, wouldn’t want to upset the chumminess he has with the big shots that are booked.
I’ve been on David Gregory for his horrendous booking practices, which began with the late Tim Russert. Women were always scarce with Tim, though he did have his favorite conservatives; but for instance, he rarely had women on his show to talk about abortion or religion, always an all male event, with foreign policy treated the same. His producer, Betsy Fisher, isn’t much interested in women being front and center regularly either. It’s nothing new for “Meet the Press,” though at least they started inviting Rachel Maddow on the show occasionally, because even if she’s not strong on political analysis, she’s terrific at issue politics, always able to strip the bark off of any Republican yielding fables instead of facts on the topic at hand, something that doesn’t interest Mr. Gregory.
Twitter has been abuzz over Rosen challenging Jake Tapper to fact check his guests since it began. Lots of people reading the tweets, also commending Tapper, including myself. I’ve exchanged several back and forth tweets with Tapper on other subjects finding him open and responsive. Not so with David Gregory who obviously believes he’s above talking to critics, especially if they’re outside his upper circle.
From Jay Rosen:
I see two other possibilities for his refusal to adopt the fact check: one banal, the other more troubling. The banal: He’s too proud to adopt something that a competitor picked up on first; it would look like a “me too” response and he is the market leader, first in the ratings and heir to the chair that Tim Russert held. The more disturbing possibility is that he thinks Tapper’s policy may give Meet the Press a competitive edge in booking guests who won’t want to be checked so vigorously. (As opposed to competing with an even better fact check, which would probably cause Bob Schieffer at Face the Nation to adopt the same policy, forcing the guests to accept the new rules or flee to cable, which has a fraction of the viewers.)
Look at it this way: the Washington politician who’s been on Meet the Press more than any other is John McCain. On April 6, Politifact’s truth-o-meter rated McCain a pants-on-fire liar for claiming that he never called himself a maverick. See what I mean?
Just recently Politico began interviewing the Sunday talkers about what’s happening on their shows, with David Gregory declining to be interviewed. He’s too big too bother, after all he is the moderator of “Meet the Press.”
As for Gregory being unwilling to fact checking his guests, coziness breeds collaboration. It’s also part of how we ended up in Iraq. The press wasn’t willing to do their jobs and challenge the lawmakers leading us into that mess. Dig for facts and challenge the lies. Evidently Mr. Gregory has forgotten that his job isn’t to simply book big guests, but it’s also to get information to the people that is actually the truth.