Sometime, members of the national media (aka The Village) slip and give the unwashed masses insight into how utterly useless they are. Chuck Todd pretty much makes clear here that his job is not to inform the public or to seek the truth or even to separate fact from the most ridiculously concocted fiction.
No. His job is to take stenography, dump it and let the rest of us fend for ourselves.
And as a result of that approach, we now have a deeply dysfunctional political system, where people who tell the most outrageous lies and engage in the kind of rhetorical excess that would make Joe McCarthy blush are given free reign to spout off without fear of correction, with no threat of being ostracized. The two greatest examples of this are John McCain and Sarah Palin.
John McCain ran a failed Presidential campaign, a campaign which literally endangered the country by selecting a Vice Presidential nominee who was the most profoundly unqualified, unprepared and clueless person ever to get within striking distance of the position of Commander-in-Chief. More recently, he has spent his twilight years in the Senate pimping wars with Iran and now, Syria. As part of his push to put other people’s sons and daughters in harm’s way for a mission of questionable purpose, McCain has sought to build support for the Syrian resistance, a movement which includes a Devil’s Brew of Islamic jihadists and Al Qaeda terrorists. If this crew ever got their hands on the steering wheel of the Syrian regime, it would be a bad day for American interests in the region.
Given that track record, one might think that McCain would have marginalized himself or at least done some damage to his position as reliable voice on foreign policy or anything else for that matter. But no. You can’t go two or three weeks without seeing him on one of the Sunday talk shows, attacking a President who beat him fair and square in a national election and being treated as a luminary whose brain droppings demand our most serious and profound consideration.
And then there’s Palin. A half-term Governor who bailed on the job after it failed to be the platform she needed to maintain her national presence. In a functioning democracy with a healthy national media, the moment she started referring to “death panels” in Obama’s health care reform legislation, she would have been laughed off the national stage and dismissed as the slightly unhinged grifter who somehow managed to get the #2 slot on a major political party’s Presidential ticket. Instead, The Villagers spent years tracking her political statements and closely evaluating her career plans as if they were anything other than a sad example of how easy it is for a shallow con artist to raise millions from Republican mailing lists.
These and other characters of their ilk survive because our national media has a profoundly confused notion of what their job entails. Chuck Todd’s comments perfectly illustrate this. The media is there to stick microphones and cameras in people’s faces and let them say entertaining and newsworthy things. Then, they find someone with a different opinion and give them a platform. They present this information, cluck a little about how we can’t all just get along and move on to the next “story”.
See the problem? Rarely is there proper context given and you almost never see folks like Todd call out someone for lying when they are clearly lying. In Todd’s world, if the GOP is spreading falsehoods about the President’s health care reform initiative, it’s not his job to tell us that. It’s his job to tell us when the President attacks them for doing that. It’s his job to dutifully give the attackers a chance to say the president wants to kill Grandma, package it up with a pretty bow in the form of some commentary about the lack of bipartisan agreement in Washington and then go off to a cocktail party where his colleagues tell him what a great job he did and how sad it is that nothing’s getting done and that the Obama administration is unable to effectively work with people who want nothing less than to destroy him.
If Edward R. Murrow came back and took a good look at what passes for national reporting these days, he’d throw up on his shoes, go buy a pack of smokes and retire to the nearest watering hole to suck down enough Scotch to forget that he had once tried to blaze a trail in this sorry business.