Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Atrios Shreds Meet the Press's Weak Response to the Russert/Obama Question


"Here's Meet the Press's response to a viewer who complained about Russert's badgering of Obama about Belafonte:
Thank you for your e-mail.

The Chicago Tribune of December 25, 2005 said the following:
"Harry Belafonte, the entertainer and civil rights activist, corresponds with [Senator] Obama by telephone and e-mail."

The article continues quoting Belafonte as saying:
"I think Sen. Obama is a force...We've seen so many others who have come to high places and have failed so miserably. I think he could be our exception to the rule."

It is sound and fair journalism to ask a political figure about comments made by a prominent supporter. That same standard is consistently applied on Meet the Press. Here are just a few examples: on February 13, 2000, presidential candidate George W. Bush was asked about comments made by Bob Jones; on February 20, 2000, Sen. John McCain was asked about comments made by his political consultant about David Duke; on February 27, 2000, Karl Rove was asked about comments made by Pat Robertson; and on October 3, 2004, Republican Senate candidate Tom Coburn was asked about comments made by Alan Keyes.

Thank you for writing and watching.
Let's run down the list.

Bush was asked about comments made by Bob Jones because he made a speech at BJU.

John McCain was asked about comments made by his political consultant about David Duke because...it was his f__king paid political consultant.

Rove wasn't asked about Pat Robertson's "remarks." Rove was asked about a recorded robocall message which went out to voters in Michigan created by Pat Robertson." More here


Blogger Jake said...

Dear Tim -
Thanks for actually answering the question and responding to your emails. You are consistent and that matters.

Dear Dale -
You asked for an explanation and you got it. There was a basis for the question to Belafonte - it was not pulled out of thin air. I think some similar Belafonte comments were even in newspapers and websites saturday night/sunday morning. That - plus the fact that Belfonte was a vocal and public supporter of Sen. Obama - made it a legit question in my book.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Empty Blog said...

Tim Russert's Embedded Journalism hint hint...

10:15 AM  
Blogger Creeping Truth said...

Mr. Russert's purpose in putting his question to Sen. Obama is visible enough without the offered excuse (i.e. comparisons Bush/Bob Jones &c.). The excuse blows off the fig leaf.

We are to imagine an "Obama-Belafonte axis" comparable to the one between Bush and the racist religious right. The question asked Obama to choose whether to renounce such an alliance or concede its existence.

The impact of such questions is equally plain. They force African Americans to stress their differences or risk raising fears in white America of a scheme comparable to the dominionist-Republican designs on our constitutional order.

Such questions are not only oppressive; they are distractions tailor-made for whatever agenda overlaps the efforts of Bob Jones and George W. Bush. More broadly, they validate cries of "Everyone is the same!" so often heard from the radical right – most recently as to the "bipartisan flow" of what Mary Matalin referred to, in Mr. Russert's presence, as "Abramoff money."

Such oppression and mindless equation are hardly the way to promote a balanced perspective on what is happening nowadays, and the pretense at professionalism only makes the journalist as such part of the problem. Whether or not Mr. Russert sees himself as fair when he lays himself down to rest is irrelevant. The tactics blunt public awareness of all that history, legal tradition, politics and social currents have to teach us about the road to a new kind of authoritarian rule we are now headed down while the rest of the world looks on amazed.

If Mr. Russert could identify that in the name of which all of this is excusable, never mind laudable, I would like to know.

11:26 AM  
Blogger tmorange said...

still awaiting a real answer from MTP...

2:04 PM  

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