Shallowness of Sunday talk shows

I noticed that mediamatters is now  factchecking the statements made on  the Sunday talk shows. I don’t know how hard this is, but it’s extremely convenient to have this as a reference.  Up until recently, TV commentary was provided only on Sunday talk shows. Now with 24 hour cable, we have news commentary shows that appear in Prime Time.  The fact that political shows seem to be successful at prime time or late night on weeknights indicates how politicized a country we have become. 

Steve Benen comments on the shallowness of Sunday Talk shows:

ABC’s "This Week" held its usual roundtable discussion this morning, with Elizabeth Vargas hosting a panel of Cokie Roberts, Sam Donaldson, George Will, and Paul Krugman.

The last topic of conversation was introduced by Vargas this way:

"[O]f course, this weekend, we have a brand-new White House social secretary appointed to replace Desiree Rogers, a close friend of the Obamas who is exiting after a bumpy tenure, I would say. Cokie, you spoke with her. She — she was highly criticized after the Obamas’ first state dinner in which she arrived, looking absolutely gorgeous, but in what some people later said was far too fancy a dress, but most importantly, that was the state dinner that was crashed by the Salahis, who walked in without an invitation when the social secretary’s office didn’t have people manning the security sites."

This led to a surprisingly long chat about Desiree Rogers.

Krugman sat silently while the discussion went on (and on), before eventually interjecting:

"Can I say that 20 million Americans unemployed, the fact that we’re worrying about the status of the White House social secretary….

Donaldson responded, "Paul, welcome to Washington."

Steve Benen comments:

But this panel discussion covered exactly four subjects this morning: health care reform, Charlie Rangel’s ethics problem, David Paterson’s latest troubles, and the fate of the former White House social secretary (and where she’s from, what her clothes looked like, what her next job is likely to be, etc.), which hardly seems relevant to anyone who doesn’t actually attend social events at the White House.

In this same discussion, there was nothing about the jobs bill that passed the Senate this week, nothing about the incredibly important Zazi guilty plea this week (and the fact that it makes Republican talking points look ridiculous), nothing about Jim Bunning single-handedly delaying unemployment insurance for those who need it.


(Wow, am I the only one who missed the fact that Zazi plead guilty!?

The people at Washington Monthly have funny observations about this exchange:

Donaldson responded, "Paul, welcome to Washington."

Longer Sam Donaldson: "Washington is a fundamentally unserious place, completely removed from and uncaring about the problems afflicting ordinary Americans. Deal with it."


The Sunday morning talk show is the Washington Beltway Establishment on parade. In no other place can you expect to see a party now controlled by its radical fringes, where elected Republican lawmakers are no longer in charge of their party must instead take orders from their far right factions, cable news broadcasters and talk radio demagogues. And yet they are still treated as royalty on these shows, fully the equal with Democrats who have won the past two elections.

There is an unspoken code on these shows, and one of them is not to notice that Republicans have completely lost their minds. Watching insiders like David Gregory and George Stephanopolous preside over these farces you really start to believe that Washington has become another Court of Versailles.


"Hey Krugman! Here’s a Nobel Prize in Shut Yer Mouth!"


This is just standard high school stuff. The popular kids let one of the brainy nerds (Krugman, Maddow) sit at their table, but the eggheads always wanna talk about boring ol’ policy instead of wailing on the unpopular girl’s clothes and hair. "Welcome to Washington" = Like, what-ever.


"Paul, welcome to Washington."

Google Translate:

"Paul, most of us can’t even get our kids into Princeton, much less teach there. We rise through sycophancy and ingratiation, and we assume that, being trivial ourselves, that the rest of the world is not. We don’t consciously try to create a tableau vivant from the pages of Laclos–or unconsciously either; for people like us, "Dangerous Liaisons" is that movie where Uma Thurman takes her top off. So go back to New Jersey and worry about the little people, while we go off to Sally’s brunch."


"I wonder, who was the target audience for the discussion of Desiree Rogers…"

The same as the audience for the Rangel and Paterson stories–namely, people who enjoy hearing about black people screwing up.

I no longer watch the Sunday talk shows. (Wolf Blitzer does a good job – if you can stand the commercials). Fareed Zakaria’s GPS is by far the most cerebral shows out there. I just love how occasionally CNN will give a prime spot to someone who actually knows what they’re talking about.

Let me see. What is my multimedia news diet these days?

  • PBS Newshour (occasionally, but especially Friday with Shields & Brooks)
  • Washington Week in Review (smart reporters give the inside scoop on everything)
  • Bill Moyers (still the best; see also NOW on PBS).
  • Best of the Left podcast… Takes snippets from the political satire and commentary shows.
  • Fareed Zakaria’s GPS
  • McLaughlin Report. This retro program features blowhards from all political sides. What I like about it is 1)it lets me hear the loony rightwing talking point of the week (which I would otherwise miss). I sometimes learn a lot of things about political culture – for example that lots of conservatives still deny global warming as a reality. 2)Jim McLaughlin is good at identifying the next big hot issues. I always learn a few new things each time I watch, and it’s not only the extent of right-wing foolishness.
  • Paul Solman Economic Reports on PBS News hour. He’s the best, and frankly, he is good at bridging the gap between academic discussion and concerns of the common man.
  • Red, White & Blue, a Texas political talk show.
  • From Our Own Correspondent, a BBC behind-the-scenes 1st person narrative about the major and not-so-major news stories.




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