Friday, March 11, 2005

The Sunday Chat & Chews (and Meet the Press, fix your web page)

I don't care for the Sunday chat & chews but since three members asked . . .

We'll start with Face the Nation because my friend at CBS says some people didn't care for the fact that it was pointed out what a "sh*t poor job" they do online with regard to Face the Nation.
In a phone call he advised me that the guests for this week were posted (and they are):

Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State

Sen. Richard G. Lugar
Chairman, Foreign Relations Committee
Republican - Indiana

Sen. Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
Ranking Member, Foreign Relations Committee
Democrat - Delaware

Meet the Press (NBC) forgets that it's the "press" and does another "Meet the Russert" this Sunday:

Secretary of State
D - NebraskaSEN.
R - Rhode Island
(R - VA)
Chairman, Government Reform Committee
(D - CA)
Ranking Member, Government Reform Committee

Over at ABC's This Week:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Jose Canseco, for[mer] Major League Baseball slugger
Jeffrey Sachs, author of "The End of Poverty"

Let's note the obvious, Condi is on all three. Is that not a diversity in the guests!

I mean, come on, it's the same old, same old.

Bill Scher at Liberal Oasis will tell you exactly what happened on each show come Monday.
If there's any especially jaw dropping moments (good or bad), Bob Somerby will highlight them at The Daily Howler. Life is too short, so I honestly can't grasp why anyone would want to park themselves in the front of their TV for a half hour (Face the Nation) or more (Meet the Press, This Week.)

I mean, okay, Cokes Roberts and Sam Donaldson have been taken out of the mothballs and will be back on the This Week roundtable this Sunday. Gramps and Grandma will be clucking like crazy.

Now I know it can be fun to watch her play clutch-the-pearls journalism. And members have spoken of the fun of watching slight changes to her hair style or her increasingly heavy jowls ("like a basset hound!" notes Barbara).

But Cokie Roberts examplifies these programs -- you spin and lie and pass it off as conventional wisdom. Yes, she's older, she's harder on the eyes. Yes, she's like Lucille Ball going into Life With Lucy and you can't take your eyes off her own personal train wreck.

But is life that unimportant that you'd trade in valuable time to sit through this nonsense?

All the shows have long forgotten the point of "we the people" and are about the beltway, by the beltway and for the beltway. No one will disagree or argue a point from the center or the left.
(Some from the right do refuse to "play nice" from time to time.) It's all so "genteel," so "we are all so above you."

And it's all such total crap and a waste of time.

I'll read Liberal Oasis and The Daily Howler and spare myself the torture. But some of you find it humorous (hopefully that's all you find it because there's no true information on those shows) so have at it.

It gives people the appearence of being "informed" only because none of the pundits are tracked or held accountable when their "conventional wisdom" fails (as it does more often than not).

Let's note some e-mails.

Ralph e-mails wondering why the baseball player is on? (By the way it's listed as "for" and I've added "mer" to the listing.) Because George Will long ago realized how effite he and his bow tie and his pursed lips came off on TV so he began making himself into a commentator on 'America's past-time.' As such, when there's anything remotely "newsy" in the world of baseball, it's time to trot them onto the show so Will can aspire to likeable. He never pulled it off in the past, but, hey, law of averages dictates that he will at some point.

Lyle points out that "Tim Russert can really go after a guest who won't answer." Yes, Lyle, you are correct, if a Democrat comes on, Tim Russert can be very hostile. And if a Republican wants to dance around the issue, Timmy's right there to play footsie. Pay attention to these shows (and read the commentaries at The Daily Howler and Liberal Oasis) and you'll realize how awful they are. With regard to Meet the Press, if Russert ever got too demanding when a new contract was being ironed out, the smartest thing NBC could do would be to air old (pre-Russert)
episodes of Meet the Press on MSNBC so that people could realize how far off course the show has gone under Russert.

Betty points out that Barbara Boxer was on with Blinky last week on Face the Nation. Yes, she was. And no, I didn't watch. If she's on NPR with Terry Gross, I'll listen. But she's not going to get far with Blinky moderating. And on Blinky (that's a nickname he has, by the way -- not from me, from some at CBS) . . .

Me, personally? I don't want an intense close up of a live rabbit staring at me from my TV screen. And though he's apparently striding through the halls of CBS with a puffed-up sense of purpose, he's the replacement brought in not out of popularity or credibility but because he's regular (he's the fiber of CBS apparently) and they can toss him out there for a bit while they retool. He's temporary (and possibly very temporary, the reaction thus far hasn't been favorable but that might be due to the fact that Rather just left). Blinky doesn't come across well on TV. But as Democracy Now! noted Thursday:

Questions Raised Over CBS's Schieffer's Ties to Bush
In other news, after 24 years Dan Rather signed off Wednesday night as the anchor of CBS News. The network has named Bob Schieffer to serve as his interim replacement. Schieffer is the host of Face the Nation and the network's chief Washington Correspondent. Questions have arisen over Schieffer's personal ties to the Bush administration. Schieffer's younger brother, Tom, is U.S. ambassador to Australia and Bush recently nominated him to serve as ambassador to Japan. Tom Schieffer and the future president served as partners of the Texas Rangers baseball team in the early 1990s. During that time Bob Schieffer became friends with the future president and attended dozens of baseball games with him.

And Bob Somerby may be the first one to really raise that issue (he's certainly documented it at length) and Somerby continues to do so. Today commenting on how CBS ignored the story of Bush & National Guard obligations, Somerby notes:

Of course, it wasn’t mentioned on the CBS counterpart, Face the Nation. The liberal net had Schieffer in charge of that show -- and Scheiffer was a close friend of the candidate, although he absent-mindedly never remembered to say so when he covered his buddy’s campaign. So it went as the liberal network worked to stop Candidate Bush.

The Daily Howler has a searchable archive (by keyword) so just go to The Daily Howler and type in Scheiffer's name (you can probably just type in "Scheiffer") and you'll put up a great deal. (I'm remembering the 2004 debates period having a lot of comments about Scheiffer from Somerby.) You can also search "Cokie Roberts" and "Tim Russert" at Somerby's site. It's one thing to be a passive viewer taking each week's offering. It's another to read the analysis and start thinking about what "information" is exactly being imparted.

But maybe someone finds George Will sexy (hey, women fall in love with prisoners they don't even know on really bad made for cable movies all the time so somewhere, some woman or man, could find George Will sexy -- law of averages). Or maybe Cokes reminds them of that overgrown dog they had as a child that's long since passed. Maybe something's giving you an entry into something else. If so, use it. Grab any starting point that helps you.

But to Ralph, Lyle and Betty's request that I start providing commentary on the Sunday Chat & Chews, forget it. Life is too short (and I waste enough of it on the New York Times). Bob Somerby and Bill Scher have stronger constitutions than I do so utilize their commentaries. If some member is a brave soul and wants to write up something on any or all three shows, feel free and e-mail it in ( so we can share it with all the members.

But I've got better things to do. Oh, having taken a slap at Face the Nation's web site (deservedly slapped), let me look at Meet the Press to see if they ever fixed a problem at their web site.

Yep, it's still there. A friend pointed it out to me two years ago (and Meet the Press has been informed of this mistake repeatedly). I'll post it here and see if you can catch it:

From the very beginning, "Meet the Press" has been an equal opportunity, inclusive and groundbreaking news program. A proud part of that history was the involvement of women journalists. In fact, the co-creator of "Meet the Press" and the show's first moderator was noted journalist Martha Rountree. The first female guest interviewed on "Meet the Press" was Elizabeth Bentley, a former Soviet spy, on September 12, 1948.
Since those beginning days, "Meet the Press" has interviewed First Ladies Eleanor Roosevelt, Nancy Reagan, Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush appeared on "Meet the Press" the first three years of her husband’s presidency. Other notable women appearing as guests over the years on "Meet the Press" include: Barbara Jordan, Shirley Chisholm, Jane Fonda, Phyllis Schlafly, Geraldine Ferraro, Gloria Steiner, Elizabeth Dole, Madeleine Albright, Tipper Gore, Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Shirley Temple Black and Caroline Kennedy.

Need some help?

Since those beginning days, "Meet the Press" has interviewed First Ladies Eleanor Roosevelt, Nancy Reagan, Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush appeared on "Meet the Press" the first three years of her husband’s presidency. Other notable women appearing as guests over the years on "Meet the Press" include: Barbara Jordan, Shirley Chisholm, Jane Fonda, Phyllis Schlafly, Geraldine Ferraro, Gloria Steiner, Elizabeth Dole, Madeleine Albright, Tipper Gore, Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Shirley Temple Black and Caroline Kennedy.

Do you know Gloria Steiner? Neither do I. That's because it's Gloria Steinem.

Again, this has been that way for two years. And Meet the Press has been informed of it. But they haven't seen fit to correct it. Maybe that's the current team's little dig at Steinem? Or maybe it's just reflective of how sloppy an arm of a major news division can be.

I have no idea when the page first went up. But, again, two years ago a friend pointed it out to me. I know of ten attempts to get Meet the Press to correct this error. (And I'm sure there are many attempts I don't know of.) Two years and they still can't fix their mistake.

And we're supposed to trust them on the larger issues?

Before anyone says "Glass houses!" I make typos all the time and don't deny it. However, I'm not a division of NBC news. And anytime a typo or mispelling of someone's name is pointed out, we do go back and correct it. Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now! is "Juan Gonzalez." And when that was pointed out, we went back to the Year-in Review and corrected it from the misspelling of "Juan Gonzales." We also posted on that mistake when it was pointed out. I'm sure there's a "Juan Gonzales" up in some entry still -- find it, e-mail the site and it will be corrected -- but this is the "about Meet the Press" page. This isn't a rush transcript of an episode of Meet the Press. So it should have been fixed a long time ago. And, my opinion, should have never made it up to begin with.

The whole point of listing those women is to prove that Meet the Press provides "diversity" (it doesn't). So those women are being cited for a reason. It undercuts the reason (and their "notability") when the names are incorrect. To have posted it demonstrates that whomever was checking the "copy" knew little too nothing about the women involved. To have continued to allow the error to stand may indicate a lack of respect or just laziness.

It's Women's History Month, so maybe that will give them a reason to fix it? (Before anyone gets excited by the listing, note that they're going back to pre-Russert periods for many of the guests -- Jane Fonda is going back to 1979 or early 1980, for instance.)