America loved Russert.
December 22, 2014 9:06 AM   Subscribe

 
America loved Russert.

Of course! Everyone loves softball.

Now, MTP is helmed by Chuck Todd, who seems to be on a crusade to make the show much more palatable to the FoxNews crowd. I mean...He had a Breitbarter on as a legitimate news organization.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:25 AM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


America loved Russert.

No one loved that pumpkin-headed goon except the media and the politicians who got questions lobbed at them that appeared difficult but were actually easy.
posted by X-Himy at 9:34 AM on December 22, 2014 [19 favorites]


Judging by Turness's efforts to loosen up the format, it seems like NBC is trying, like everyone, to grab the millenial demographic. I just don't think millenials are there yet. The hardcore wonks who watch MTP won't come out until they're in their thirties, and by that point they won't be demanding a live band or will.i.am's input.

Meet the Press loses a lot to the internet's weeklong news cycle. What they should take advantage of is what is unique to them - access. When Cheney sits down across from Chuck Todd, it should be unpredictable. It should be uncomfortable. It should be immolating. Instead we get Todd who, even being one of the only people staring into the face of pure evil with the torture report in hands, still seems only intellectually interested in the topic at best.
posted by Think_Long at 9:35 AM on December 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


And yes I would like to read more about Comcast using NBC's news division as an ambassadorship for its own political interests.
posted by Think_Long at 9:37 AM on December 22, 2014


Maybe because he committed a fairly blatant violation of DC gun laws on TV?
posted by bartonlong at 9:48 AM on December 22, 2014


Well, the one thing I learned about that article was that Gregory is 6'5" and has a George W. Bush official nickname, "Stretch".
posted by 724A at 9:52 AM on December 22, 2014


I'm always absolutely astonished that there's a single person outside the beltway that watches these shows in the first place.

Meet the Press loses a lot to the internet's weeklong news cycle. What they should take advantage of is what is unique to them - access. When Cheney sits down across from Chuck Todd, it should be unpredictable. It should be uncomfortable. It should be immolating. Instead we get Todd who, even being one of the only people staring into the face of pure evil with the torture report in hands, still seems only intellectually interested in the topic at best.

The fact that it's comfortable for monsters is the whole reason the access is there, though.
posted by selfnoise at 9:58 AM on December 22, 2014 [13 favorites]


The shorter version of that article? "Because Gregory sucked." I was a die-hard MTP fan for years and now I can barely stand it. Smuggy McSmuggerson Gregory did not help at all.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:12 AM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Is this a double or have I become unstuck in time.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:08 AM on December 22, 2014


When ratings at Meet the Press slid, some suspected über-plugged-in MSNBC host Joe Scarborough (left) of leaking internal dirt while angling for Gregory’s job.

Imagine, if you will, a show called "Meet the Press" hosted by Joe Scarborough. This network did, and found itself in The Twilight Zone.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:30 AM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


America loved Russert

Russert was the master of the deftly pulled punch to maintain access to the elites while maintaining a thin veneer of credibility. Gregory is no different and DC is chock full of these so called journalists who would rather be high profile celebrities. Lewis Lapham thought Russert was a disgrace and published Elegy for a Rubber Stamp after his death.

And how interesting that the toughest most impertinent question Gregory ever asked anybody was to a real journalist like Greenwald. Media personalities like Gregory would never be so tough on an elite in a powerful position. After all, he wants to have fun line dancing and getting drunk with people like Dick Cheney or Nancy Pelosi at the next White House Correspondents Dinner.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 11:31 AM on December 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


When the news programs, which originally were designed as loss leaders to cement viewer loyalty for the money-making shows in prime time, became profit centers, TV journalism disappeared, to be replaced by sycophancy to the power elite. Fox News on cable then upended that model by practicing sycophancy to only one side of the political spectrum, thereby gaining a smaller, but rabidly loyal following of folks who believed that their irreverence to part of the elite signaled a populist slant, and at the same time growing that following by incessantly right-wing-biased reporting and fanning the flames of hate toward the conflation of "elites" and "liberals."

The current incarnation of MTP is simply a natural outgrowth of these changes, trying to triangulate the middle while not alienating the power elite too much.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:39 AM on December 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


The kind of people under 40 who would have watched this show watch the daily show and Colbert. Too boring and too blowjob-y.
posted by Diablevert at 11:48 AM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


My most prominent memory of David Gregory's Meet The Press is when a couple of years ago he was interviewing John H. Sununu at the Republican Convention in Tampa who, in response to a "big tent" question, said
...the Hispanics are very entrepreneurial, and to their credit they probably have a better record of being entrepreneurs than some second and third and fourth-generation Americans here. They like to create jobs for themselves and they are willing to take the risks.
'cause, y'know, "the Hispanics" and Americans are obviously two different things. Gregory didn't even blink.
posted by XMLicious at 12:01 PM on December 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's actually hard to call what Press the Meat is doing "triangluation" when Chuck Todd is extending invitations to Breitbart.com B-listers:
On Sunday, the caretaker of journalism's Overlook Hotel invited John Nolte, of Breitbart's Mausoleum For The Otherwise Unemployable, to join him and Lloyd The Bartender for some holiday cheer. (This is of a piece with the late St. Tim Russert's having mainstreamed Matt Drudge during the Lewinsky circus.) You may recall that, when he took the gig, my man Chuck Todd did an extended interview with the denizens of the mausoleum. He later explained this deep spelunk into the dark, dank caves of his profession by explaining that his extended slumming was meant to rebuild "trust" in the venerable franchise he'd been handed, "trust" in this case being defined as making sure incompetent slander merchants have a hearing, too.
I think there are too many folks in my business who are too defensive and desperately hope things return to the so-called "good old days." The media landscape has changed. We need to adapt. We need to acknowledge new players. When I say it's time to talk to the critics and the skeptics, it means engaging, hearing new ideas. Perhaps incorporating some or dismissing some but at least explaining why. Have the two-way conversation.
After which, he took a camera crew and interviewed two guys in Central Park about how aliens under the command of High Commissioner Gort have gained control of the Federal Reserve. Have the two-way conversation!
I don't think that there's a direct lefty analogue to Breitbart.com, but if there was, does anyone really think they'd get a seat at the table on Sunday morning?
posted by tonycpsu at 12:08 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is a really fascinating story, according to a person familiar with the article.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 12:16 PM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Is this a double or have I become unstuck in time.

the empire never ended...
posted by ennui.bz at 12:17 PM on December 22, 2014


> Too boring and too blowjob-y.
> posted by Diablevert


Sometimes Diablevert is my favorite poster here.

Also, there was a time when Chuck Todd seemed like he might be on the way to becoming a decent main-stream reporter. I think the MTP job has doomed him though, and when I see him now I imagine him at each step calculating how much of his soul he should sell to Mammon at this particular instance.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:19 PM on December 22, 2014


> I don't think that there's a direct lefty analogue to Breitbart.com, ...

Democracy Now is the closest I can think of. Which, yeah, I don't think we'll ever see on MTP.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:22 PM on December 22, 2014


tune in next week to Buster Friendly and his friendly friends for a *special* expose.
posted by ennui.bz at 12:23 PM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't think that there's a direct lefty analogue to Breitbart.com, but if there was, does anyone really think they'd get a seat at the table on Sunday morning?

Democracy Now is the closest I can think of. Which, yeah, I don't think we'll ever see on MTP.


Note that the mainstream media's triangulation only takes into account coordinates within the moneyed classes. Breitbart, et al., are closely tied. Democracy Now, not so much.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:15 PM on December 22, 2014


I always think of the Sunday shows as places where politicians go to get their feet washed.
posted by srboisvert at 1:39 PM on December 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Don't forget the panels of pundits hawking their latest books. Sunday shows look just like every other channel in that time slot. Infomercials.
posted by cmfletcher at 1:45 PM on December 22, 2014


Came here expecting gossip about the demise of XTC. Oh well.
posted by aught at 1:59 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


They certainly missed an opportunity with John Oliver.
posted by hal9k at 2:29 PM on December 22, 2014


Russert came the closest to being a real interviewer -- he actually studied up on people and would occasionally jump on lies. Gregory was an utter marshmallow and Todd is a right winger masquerading as a journalist.
posted by bearwife at 2:47 PM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


America loved Russert.

Washington* loved Russert. The book This Town (the reading of which was perhaps one of the catalysts that finally, finally spurred my move away from DC) spends a ridiculous page count on the deification of Tim Russert and the performative genuflections the chattering class performed at his death, but I can't recall anyone I knew ever voicing an opinion of any sort about him.

*There is an informal distinction I want to highlight here (which appears to be reflected in the article too), where people refer to the place as "Washington" when talking about the politicosphere and "DC" when referencing the place where people actually live their otherwise-normal lives.
posted by psoas at 2:58 PM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


The shorter version of that article? "Because Gregory sucked."

The article doesn't really fault Gregory at all, though. If you've got a new executive overseeing the show and suggesting bullshit like:
Watching Meet the Press felt like work, and she told the staff she wanted a program that was fun and surprising. A guilty pleasure. Something that might even make you laugh. The country’s most esteemed political talk show, she concluded, needed to loosen up.

Turness had all kinds of ideas for how to pull this off. She considered bringing in a studio audience, as you’d see on Ellen or Saturday Night Live. She thought about moving the show to New York City, where the number-two-rated This Week sometimes filmed. She suggested that Gregory stack newspapers on his desk to give the set an intimate, coffeehouse feel.
...your show is destined to tank.
posted by psoas at 3:15 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


The thing about having access to politicians is that they have access to you. I would imagine that most Washington heavyweights, from both parties, are incredibly charismatic in one on one situations. They didn't get where they are for no reason. Guys like Russert and Gregory want the politicians to like them. The psychology of it all is pretty "middle school", really.
posted by mellow seas at 3:30 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


a new executive overseeing the show and suggesting bullshit

How about a band? People liked David Letterman, and he has a band.
posted by thelonius at 3:57 PM on December 22, 2014


Gregory danced for Karl Rove, so there was never any way I would watch a show hosted by him.
posted by keli at 3:59 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Kill your TV. Stop paying attention. Russert was a clown, Gregory a tool, and Todd a barker and tout. They could all drown their collective intellect in a thimble. America likes stupid men to read the cue cards.

And comparing Amy Goodman to Breitbart is absurd. She's left of any democrat in office, but she's a rigorously fair journalist, and a damn smart one.

No one gave a shit about Russert outside the Beltway until they deified him with propaganda after he croaked.
posted by spitbull at 6:18 PM on December 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


You can't replace Russert, and that was what did Gregory in. Tom Brokaw and Andrea Mitchell were always interims. It's like the person who plays after the headliner act. They will inevitably be compared unfairly to the headliner.
posted by calwatch at 8:21 PM on December 22, 2014


Chucking Todd

If but a 1000 favorites
"Kill your tv"is it.
Americas evil appliance. It's not news, it is not even commentary it's swarthy angst with ED commercials or some person dressed as a mattress trying to sell you common sense.
posted by clavdivs at 8:40 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Except Charlie Rose.
posted by clavdivs at 8:41 PM on December 22, 2014


clavdivs: "Except Charlie Rose."

Oh, please no! Charlie Rose loves to hear himself talk more than any of his guests. The man answers his own questions before the interviewee even gets a syllable out.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 8:46 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wellitsallinthename, then.
posted by clavdivs at 9:06 PM on December 22, 2014


Birthing Janus, the Gregorian automaton was one thing but it's like CT is on some version of 'Running Man.'
So, I type this crap by the MEGS ya.
posted by clavdivs at 9:09 PM on December 22, 2014


True, true. But
Charlie don't turf.
posted by clavdivs at 9:13 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


There is a lot of pretty bizarre stuff in that article. Tucking away reference to a $4 million severance package at the very end of the piece is up there; the nearly unquestioning reverence of Russert is maybe the worst.

It's not just "critics moaning" that he wasn't good at asking questions; it's that Russert was unequivocally terrible at informing people about the news. The reason why at least some Republicans went on his show was because they knew they could "control [the] message." There's a reference in this post's Gregory article to Russert "working Capital Hill sources"; but those conversations were presumptively off the record. And he was unable to use those sources to find information about the most important policy decision of his time at MTP; "I wish my phone had rung," he recalled plaintively years later.
posted by ibmcginty at 6:08 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I found these two instances interesting:

NBC declined to have Scarborough comment; in a July tweet, he denied having angled for the job.

“They were very aggressive with the new NBC News leadership,” the former executive says, “and told them that if Chuck didn’t get Meet the Press soon, he was going to leave.” Sures denies this, and NBC declined to make Todd available.

There's a certain innuendo in NBC "declining to have" someone comment or "declining to make [someone] available" that I'm assuming means "contractually we can tell you not to talk about certain things and we will can your ass for it and in exchange we will let everyone know that we're not letting you talk about it so they don't think you're a total pain in the ass but it will be innuendo that makes you sound like Show Pony. LOL."
posted by aydeejones at 9:09 PM on December 23, 2014


And yeah Tim Russert was way lionized in a way that was seemingly egregious but acceptable because died too soon, and I remember being surprised by the outpouring in our own obit thread, being somewhat of a political junkie at the time who never had anything positive or negative to say about Russert, he was just Chris Matthews-lite to me for whatever reason. I think he had a couple "hard hitting" moments in his career and then coasted from there on out.
posted by aydeejones at 9:11 PM on December 23, 2014


Aaand, David Gregory got my attention for being a thorn in George W. Bush's side from time to time, but I'll never forgive him for slinking into the same "rest on laurels" pattern as Russert, and then suddenly becoming a hard-hitting question-asking journalist when interviewing Glenn Greenwald, except he was trying to get the guy to somehow "confess" that being a real investigative journalist dealing with serious shit is an act of treason. So he suddenly became Tough-Guy-Journalist-Jimmy-Callahan-Two-Pistols-McFadden except it's in a moment where he's totally shitting on the entire platonic example of why journalism matters whatso-fucking-ever and why journalists should be protected from being treated as dissidents when confidential sources give them information.
posted by aydeejones at 9:14 PM on December 23, 2014


The thing about having access to politicians is that they have access to you.

As Nietzsche might say, if you spend too much time accessing the abyss, the abyss just might access you. I find the names "Meet the Press" and "Face the Nation" exemplify exactly the "fast-pitch softball" intent of the show, as someone earlier pointed out how Russert was a master of asking the sort-of-tough but not really tough or followed-through question. Barbara Walters is also notorious for going for the jugular and then faking out and nipping ankles. But that name. Oooh, you're meeting the press you darn politicians. Feel the pressure. Hey guys we need to copy that shitty Sunday show that is largely watched by people who have their own political podcasts, radio shows, or are otherwise "wonky" in that weak-ass-sauce way...let's see, how about "Face" something. Face the press? Nah.

I think Chuck Todd wanted this show because he knows MSNBC is gonna get fucked-up by cord-cutters and it's interesting to think about a certain possible "hipster-ism" infiltrating network television. I never got the impression that Todd was particularly right wing but I haven't paid attention to him since the 2012 election, if that.

Chopped, Alton Brown, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow in their prime largely kept my wife interested in cable TV. Now we're getting by pretty easily with Netflix and Hulu Plus but if we want a fix of MSNBC, we can tune in to over-the-air HD to ignore MTP in the background, which in my area can be picked up with a piece of coax cable with the copper exposed on one and and touched to anything metal.
posted by aydeejones at 9:25 PM on December 23, 2014


Oh, please no! Charlie Rose loves to hear himself talk more than any of his guests. The man answers his own questions before the interviewee even gets a syllable out.

As well as seemingly to be on a semi-monthly schedule in providing Tom Friedman blowjobs. If Rose stuck to the arts and sciences, I'd have a much higher opinion of him and his show.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:03 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Relevant article from the September edition of The Nation: Why Firing David Gregory Won’t Change ‘Meet the Press’
posted by homunculus at 3:55 PM on December 26, 2014


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