There was a time when Meet The Press was a hard hitting proving ground for political guests who wanted to demonstrate they weren’t full of it. But then somehow the show ended up in the hands of a host who is full of it. Of all the people at NBC News who could have turned Meet The Press back into a powerhouse, Chuck Todd isn’t exactly what comes to anyone’s mind. And yet for some reason, it’s his baby now. It’s been expanded so that it airs nearly every day. And it’s become a cesspool of false equivocation.
If you want to see what a political reporter is truly made of, hand him a story where all the facts support one side, while the other side is pretty much just making things up. Watch him try to walk the tightrope of accurately reporting that there truly is only the one side to that particular story. See how much he hedges his bets by allowing at least some of the wrong side’s lies to go unchecked, or by throwing in some speculative negatives about the side that’s in the right, so he can avoid being accused of bias by those who think “unbiased” means “both sides are the same.”
Some reporters just give up entirely on trying to get the factually accurate picture across, and resort to splitting the difference on every story. It’s simpler that way. You receive fewer accusations of bias. You get less hatemail too. As a reporter it’s just easier to pretend both sides are the same in politics, even when they’re not. Chuck Todd defines that lazy stance.
Take for instance this recent storyline about the Clinton Foundation. All the evidence points to the charity being completely on the up and up. But because Donald Trump has run out of other ideas, he’s making up one phony claim of corruption about the Foundation after another. And even when he’s been challenged on it by his own guests, Chuck Todd still seems to think the only way forward is to carve out a fictional middle of the road on the story.
“It was Democrats, people working for President Obama, that were concerned of the optics,” Chuck Todd declared without bothering to offer any evidence of his claim. “As Dick Lugar said, it’s not about the good intentions of President Clinton and Secretary Clinton,” Todd continued, quoting a Republican politician just seconds after claiming that it was the Democrats who had the problem with the Foundation. Did he think no one would notice?
So in this election where Hillary Clinton has had most of the facts on her side and Donald Trump has been shown to be lying most of the time, this apparently is how far backward a reporter has to bend over in order to pretend that both sides are the same. Chuck Todd’s guest Joel Benenson went on to point out that Trump is in debt to Russian investors and to the Chinese government, and asked why that hasn’t been reported as a conflict of interest. Todd had no explanation.
In other words, we’ve reached the point where the formerly hard hitting Meet The Press has been watered down so severely by Chuck Todd, and sold out so thoroughly to middle of the road false equivalence, that it’s now the guests who have to call out the host for being full of crap. Meet The Cesspool.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report