Even with a near lifelong interest in politics, I avoid Sunday “talk shows” like the plague. Haven’t watched in over 30 years. Maybe longer. Maybe back to the last days of Lawrence Spivak on “Meet The Press.” Well, Tim Russert, at least.
Each Sunday, reporters and opinionists - most of whom have an uncanny inability to be able to ask the follow-up question - parade the usual cast of celebrity wannabees who babble incessantly about not much.
You don’t have to watch ‘em to know what was said. Out-takes are all over the place on Monday since most “working” media takes the weekend off and space/time needs filling.
Before his health failed, John McCain seemingly spent far more time on the Sunday tube than he did on the Senate floor. Now, his “Sancho Panza,” Lindsey Graham, seems to have that “honor.” But, unlike McCain, his hand puppet just can’t come up with a singular position on anything without several “cover-his-butt” disclaimers.
The basic reason I’ve given up on TV gabfests is that, too often, nothing that needs discussing gets discussed. A couple of weeks ago on GOP-TV, the EPA Secretary - since fired but who should still be tried for larceny - had his turn in the barrel. Did the questioner go after Pruitt’s strident efforts to tear the Department to pieces or his dastardly work to eliminate all facts about climate change from any documents that cross his desk or ending climate change research? Was he grilled about new oil spills or his wanting more drilling on our shorelines?
NO! His time was consumed trying to defend his outrageous spending, his proclivity for cronyism, his nutcase demands for 19 bodyguards and wanting his limousine outfitted with a siren so he wouldn’t miss dinner at rush hour.
That’s what Sunday “talk” has become. For reasons I can’t comprehend, the entire genre has become mindless and oblivious to the real issues. Just line up “news makers,” hit ‘em with some large, fuzzy, meaningless questions and thank them for their service.
What angers most is our disaster of a president has set loose the baddest group of grifters, con artists and outright misfits to dismantle the various agencies they’re supposed to be running. All of ‘em - pick any one- have set out to cripple or destroy institutions of government.
So, how does this near-unanimous gang of vested interest white collar criminals tie to the Sunday shows? How does their unscrupulous misbehavior relate?
Simple. These talkfests offer the only real chance serious, responsible journalists have to set the issues that should be important, then use well-researched follow-up questions to get to the facts. These aren’t “press conferences” where the interviewee can pick and chose what to answer. Using that tougher format, no one question can be dodged before running to the next. Three, four, a dozen queries until the issue has been examined. Probing. Searching. Factual.
Sounds doable, right? Well, there’s this. A friend who’s a producer for one of the networks once told me, if such a fact-searching, “hard-nosed” approach were adopted, they couldn’t get the “right people” to appear on Sunday. Might be “embarrassing” to the guest, I was told. Yep, “embarrassing.”
That producer’s response may actually be the most basic reason I don’t watch the Wallaces and the Todds of the world. They got where they are by knowing better. They’re good reporters. Yet they take their “foot off the gas” so the “big names” will come back. Gotta remember the ratings. And the advertisers.
I’d hate to think what I was told was the case across the board. But, given similarities of the current softball questioning and the meaningless drivel resulting, I think there’s more than a little truth there.
What passes as government under Trump may not be the only failing institution of our time.