Graphic courtesy of BlueGal
Okay, I'm going to 'fess up that I'm extremely cranky this morning. On the advice of my doctors, I decided to start the new year with a two week detox--no caffeine, no alcohol, no meat, only whole grains and organic vegetables. Understand that coffee is one of my major food groups, so I've not quite stopped jonesing for that morning cuppa to feel the benefits of the detox yet. So maybe I'm not in the best frame of mind for the Sunday shows. It's clear that the Underpants Bomber is going to be the big topic of the day, but it's also clear that we're not really interested in discussing the subject honestly. As Media Matters notes:
Among the guests appearing tomorrow will be Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) on CNN's State of the Union. Will guest host Gloria Borger ask DeMint about his vote against the FY 2010 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which included $4,358,076,000 in funding for screening operations by TSA, $1,116,406,000 of which was specifically for explosives detection systems? [Senate Vote #323, 10/20/09]
Or how about his vote against the Improving America's Security Act of 2007, which implemented recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, including several provisions related to airline security? [Senate Vote #284, 7/26/07]
Of course those questions won't be asked. Jay Rosen came up with a fairly simple (yet completely maverick) solution for the Sunday shows: fact-check your guests:
I think the situation calls for cynicism. But I have to admit that is not much of a call. So instead I propose this modest little fix, first floated on Twitter in a post I sent out to Betsy Fischer, Executive Producer of Meet the Press, who never replies to anything I say. "Sadly, you're a one-way medium," I said to Fischer, "but here's an idea for ya: Fact check what your guests say on Sunday and run it online Wednesday."
Now I don't contend this would solve the problem of the Sunday shows, which is structural. But it might change the dynamic a little bit. Whoever was bullshitting us more could expect to hear about it from Meet the Press staff on Wednesday. The midweek fact check (in the spirit of Politifact.com, which could even be hired for the job...) might, over time, exert some influence on the speakers on Sunday. At the very least, it would guide the producers in their decisions about whom to invite back.
The midweek fact check would also give David Gregory a way out of his puppy game of gotcha. Instead of telling David Axelrod that his boss promised to change the tone in Washington so why aren't there any Republican votes for health care? ... which he thinks is getting "tough" with a guest, Gregory's job would simply be to ask the sort of questions, the answers to which could be fact checked later in the week. Easy, right?
The beauty of this idea is that it turns the biggest weakness of political television--the fact that time is expensive, and so complicated distortions, or simple distortions about complicated matters, are rational tactics for advantage-seeking pols---into a kind of strength. The format beckons them to evade, deny, elide, demagogue and confuse.... but then they pay for it later if they give into temptation and make that choice.
Fact-checking, what a novel concept.
ABC's "This Week" - John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism; Sens. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, and Susan Collins, R-Maine; Reps. Jane Harman, D-Calif., and Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich.
CBS' "Face the Nation" - Journalists' roundtable.
NBC's "Meet the Press" - Brennan; former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff; former CIA director Michael Hayden; Doris Kearns Goodwin, presidential historian.
NBC's "The Chris Matthews Show" - Panel: Katty Kay, Dan Rather, John Harris, Helene Cooper. Topics: Which of Seven Tough Storylines Will Take Hold Against Obama in 2010? What Are the Big Political Predictions for 2010?
CNN's "State of the Union" - Brennan; former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, chairman of 9/11 commission; Sens. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; Fran Townsend, a former White House homeland security adviser for President George W. Bush; Richard Ben-Veniste, 9/11 commission member; former CIA official Michael Scheuer.
CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" - As we approach the 1st anniversary of President Obama's inauguration, a look back at his first year in office. Did he meet the challenges? Plus, Fareed's conversation with Tom Ricks on the Battle of Wanat and what it means for the troops heading to Afghanistan. Finally, a new conversation with Asia expert Kishore Mahbubahni on whether China's economic and political strength will continue to grow and what that means for the rest of the world.
CNN's "Amanpour" - Women for sale; Afghan opium.
"Fox News Sunday" - Brennan; Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo.
So while I shake off my coffee blues, what's catching your eye this morning?