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Sunday Casting

This is apropos of nothing, but the casting for Sunday talk show panels has gotten so ridiculously biased that no one even mentions it anymore. I saw This Week yesterday and you had George Will, David Brooks, Fareed Zakaria, and Cokie Roberts on. That's a conservative, a neoconservative, a conservative-leaner, and a moron for those of you keeping score at home. To ABC's credit, for their "three conservatives and an idiot" panel they have three of the least-hackish prominent rightwingers (though I regard Brooks' occassional forays into non-hackery as an attempt to reach higher levels of hackery in his hackwork) to be found. As a result, this absurd lineup is actually more fair than what Tim Russert has to offer. Astounding. If you put Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Mike Tomasky, Peter Beinart, and Cokie Roberts up there as a balanced panel, I think Brent Bozell would burst a vein. "This war is evil," "no, it's not evil, it's just a terrible idea," "I actually think it's a decent idea, but Bush is messing it all up," "well, Bush looks good in a powder blue tie...."

October 4, 2004 | Permalink


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» Chat Show Review from Political Animal
CHAT SHOW REVIEW...."Three conservatives and an idiot," says Matt Yglesias. Click here to read the rest. I don't actually watch any of the Sunday chat shows, but I've certainly been reading a lot about them lately. I guess there just... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 5, 2004 12:29:32 AM


and yet, stunningly, the right-wing whiners still bitch and moan ceaselessly about liberal bias, which goes to show what message discipline will do for you.

Congratulations on calling Cokie what she is, by the way. She has single-handedly driven down my giving to NPR (although Juan Williams and Mara Liasson get assists).

Posted by: howard | Oct 4, 2004 11:07:44 PM

Late Edition was pretty balanced.

Posted by: John Isbell | Oct 4, 2004 11:49:56 PM

Thanks for mentioning this, and good onya for affirming that Cokie is, in fact, a moron. As for Fareed, he's actually a classical liberal and a multilateral realist.

In any case, perhaps some aspiring former junior economic professor can turn this bias issue into a cause celebre.

Posted by: praktike | Oct 4, 2004 11:59:55 PM

As I understand it, the conservative complaint is not that news commentary is biased, but rather that news COVERAGe is biased.

Posted by: Alex Knapp | Oct 5, 2004 12:01:15 AM

and yet, stunningly, the right-wing whiners still bitch and moan ceaselessly about liberal bias...

Howard, at least talk show pundits typically are openly branded as leaning one way or the other. I don't think, for instance, that anyone wonders about which way a George Will leans. But when the right gets a conservative version of deep liberal implant Dan Rather (an ostensibly objective anchorman), maybe we'll stop our bitching. Plus, a thousand right-wing versions of Rather wouldn't make up for the fact that the left enjoys the overlordship of the single most powerful personage in American journalism and news media (that's A. O. Sulzberger Jr. to you and me). Talk about agenda setting. Pinch is Sauron to Howell Raines's Saruman. Sullivan shouldn't have bothered with his hyperventilating last year.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida | Oct 5, 2004 12:11:24 AM

By the way -- is Cokie really that bad? I always thought she was at least ok when it comes to domestic politics.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida | Oct 5, 2004 12:12:46 AM

Interesting, PB. So you're upset that the free market has spoken, and the NYT is king? I thought conservatives believed in markets.

Posted by: praktike | Oct 5, 2004 12:21:06 AM

Cokie is Sally Quinn with press credentials.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Oct 5, 2004 12:26:21 AM

Apparently my age is showing -- I love Cokie Roberts.

Posted by: Mondale 72 | Oct 5, 2004 12:29:08 AM

I know this version of the debate will never end, but Jennings leans as right as Rather leans left, which is to say not very much.

Schieffer is golfing buddies with Bush. Russert leans right, and stacks his panels. the fact that he stacks his panels isn't a comment on the conservative commentariat, it's a comment on russert, who chooses to stack them. I really have no idea what George Steph's politics are - yes, he worked for Clinton, but I know someone (not particularly political) who worked with him after he started doing This Week (before he was named host), and this person said he'd always wanted to be a media star and didn't care much about policy.

But, anyway, if I were extraordinarily generous I'd concede that portions of the mainstream media leaned slightly left on some issues (Actually, I would have conceded that 5 years ago -- it's not longer true), but the idea that any portion of the mainstream media is "pro-democrat," including dan rather's eyebrows, is laughable.

Posted by: Atrios | Oct 5, 2004 12:31:53 AM

Interesting, PB. So you're upset that the free market has spoken, and the NYT is king? I thought conservatives believed in markets.

Not me. As long as the government insists on regulating political speech in contravention of the United States constitution, I favor a government takeover of the commanding heights of the news media business. I would nominate Bill Safire as Minister of Truth.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida | Oct 5, 2004 12:35:16 AM

As for Fareed, he's actually a classical liberal and a multilateral realist.

I'm pretty sure classic liberals don't support preventative wars and I'm pretty sure multilateral realists don't support preventative wars without the backing of the UN or any meaningful allies beyond a figleaf British unit driving 20 miles from Kuwait to Basra.

Or do you mean Zakaria is a "liberal" because he thinks women have a right to an abortion and public schoolchildren shouldn't have the Book of Revelation taught to them in history class?

Posted by: Old Hat | Oct 5, 2004 12:38:53 AM

I would nominate Bill Safire as Minister of Truth.

Careful. Your true intentions are showing.

Posted by: George Orwell | Oct 5, 2004 12:41:21 AM

This isn't really that hard to figure. The mainstream media leans left on social issues, right on foreign policy issues, and doesn't give a crap about economic issues. Simple as that.

It was Dan Rather who announced to his TV audience after September 11 that "George Bush is the President. He makes the decisions. He wants me to line up, just tell me where." It was the New York Times that effectively served as the official mouthpiece for Ahmed Chalabi's disinformation campaign on WMDs during the first phase of the invasion. And it's the mainstream media that to this day, continuously neglects to devote any real attention to the number of Iraqis who have been killed as a result of this war. Anyone who thinks the media is anywhere near being liberal when it comes to the war is either badly misinformed or just doesn't care about the truth.

Posted by: JP | Oct 5, 2004 12:48:39 AM

A classical liberal and a multilateral realist?

Sometimes people get a little to overzealous with the conservative taxonomy, I'm beginning to think there are more categories than conservatives.

Posted by: SAO | Oct 5, 2004 1:32:50 AM

Cokie Roberts a moron?

I thought it was just moi.

In fact, I actually quit listening to NPR for several years because I not only couldn't stand her unctous voice but I couldn't abide her weird, off-kilter observations.

Posted by: Blue Iris | Oct 5, 2004 2:05:28 AM

This isn't really that hard to figure. The mainstream media leans left on social issues, right on foreign policy issues, and doesn't give a crap about economic issues. Simple as that.

You had me up to the last point. The mainstream media is exceedingly pro-business and particularly pro whatever helps the media businesses make money. When there's a labor section in the newspaper I'll believe that the media doesn't care about economic policies.

Posted by: xian | Oct 5, 2004 2:23:26 AM

Cokie a moron?
I had her pegged as a twit, actually.
But, of course, the two aren't meutually exclusive.
What I'd pay to have a centrist curmudgeon like Brinkley around today.

Posted by: Steve Snyder | Oct 5, 2004 3:04:17 AM

Please ignore this if I read it wrong, but it seemed to me that Matt just characterized George "My Business is My Business" Will as one of the LEAST hackish prominent right wingers. So Matt, next time you bump into him, why don't you ask G.W. just what he thinks was the secret of Reagan's success in the 1980 debate with Carter? I'm sure you'd get an earful. I agree that Will sometimes comes up with genuine nonpartisan insights, but isn't a hack precisely someone who first creates a reputation, then milks it?

Posted by: Andy | Oct 5, 2004 4:07:28 AM

The mainstream media is exceedingly pro-business

Sure they are. If you don't count the fact that the word "unregulated" makes a journalist angrier than the word "Satan" makes a Christian fundamentalist.

Posted by: David Nieporent | Oct 5, 2004 5:09:04 AM

The main purpose of the mainstream media aside from shilling for corporate anti-labor anti-consumer interests like Microsoft (how often are you reminded of Bill Gates's philanthropy or Paul Allen's spaceship on the cable channel MS-NBC?) is to desensitize people to violence by exposing them to it constantly so they are subsequently willing to go be violent in a different country. From comedians joking about prison rape to movies with the local governor in them wherein he kills a cumulative total of over 200 people, TV (mostly the fictional kind) only has time for a few repetitive meta-stories, most of them small in scale (kidnappings or killings of one person) and in the place of any meaningful coverage of the only kind of violence people don't see much of on cable these days--why do US networks never show more than a few seconds of grim Iraq footage (before "analysis," usually), while viewers of Arab channels watch hours on end of coverage?

Posted by: Fu UK | Oct 5, 2004 5:46:08 AM

No, I think for the purposes of this discussion a hack is someone who lies for fun and profit. (See Brooks, Safire.) (Why does the NYTimes prefer likeable conservative columnists to honest ones? Are they that clueless?)

The funny thing is that while George Will was once one of the main conservative villains of the 80s (I gather), now there are several tiers of unprincipledness above him.

It's somewhat disappointing to see how he clearly wants desperately to vote against Bush (more and more as the months go by), but probably doesn't like Kerry enough. Not that Kerry should try too hard to get George Will's vote, but an endorsement from him would have been another nice Republican defection, and the situation is representative of the larger tragedy of the many votes the Democrats are basically declining by nominating an often uninspiring candidate who's unavoidably controversial due to his war-protesting, however well-merited it was. Bush is such a weak candidate that a centrist opposition probably could have been mounted that would have wiped the floor with him. And that administration wouldn't have even needed to be much more centrist in office than what a Kerry administration will end up being anyway.

Though optimism has returned these last few days, it remains worth saying to oneself now and then, "Bush stands a good chance of winning reelection." !!!

Posted by: andrew | Oct 5, 2004 6:50:53 AM

For those who forget, the panel on Timmeh! Russert's show was Kate O'Beirne, Roger Simon, and Ron Goldstein.

Wingnut, moderate Republican and centrist. That's how the debate has been skewed rightwards in the US. In a more sensible media climate, O'Beirne wouldn't have a job, let alone an invite to the gasbag shows.

Posted by: ahem | Oct 5, 2004 7:38:27 AM

I wonder if Russert still has the "W" campaign pin hidden under his lapel?

Has anything changed since 2000?

Posted by: def | Oct 5, 2004 8:43:00 AM

One thing has changed since 2000. We have a new DNC chair who's getting his ass handed to him as far as media manipulation goes.

As for Zakaria: American conservatives have this romantic affection for Brits and products of the British Colonial system who apologize for economic inequality. Such refined and learned apologists. Why can't we have a British Laborite on American TV?

Posted by: Chris | Oct 5, 2004 9:15:17 AM

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