Chuck Todd, the opinionater instead of moderator on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” now has another five hours a week, starting in September, to destroy Democrats in a new show on MSNBC. People who consider the channel to be liberal need to take a good look at it, starting with “The Morning Joe Show.” It’s natural—although upsetting—that the conservative boss for programs would cut “The Cycle,” “Now with Alex Wagner,” and “The Ed Show” in favor of a less learned and more right-leaning host.
Ed Schultz, who lost the time slot given to Todd, often had higher ratings than Chris Hayes in “All In,” but Phil Griffin likes Hayes. Seeing the writing on the wall, Hayes has also been moving right in the past few months. In a vicious circle, MSNBC gradually dumps its progressive hosts, progressive watchers leave the channel, ratings go down, and Griffin blames the ratings on the programming’s “liberal bias” to get rid of more hosts that provided higher ratings. Rachel Maddow is most likely safe, but “Politics Nation” with Al Sharpton will probably be dropped for a more conservative Brian Willliams’ newscast. After missing from broadcasting for six months for his lies, Williams will find a home at the newest conservative channel on television.
Chuck Todd seems unable to ask probing questions, frequently giving his conservative guests a pass and acting as a mouthpiece for corporate media and conservatives. To Todd, this isn’t a problem because he thinks that asking questions is not his job.
Last fall, Todd campaigned for recently elected Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) during a segment on “Morning Joe.” In commenting on a clip showing the refusal of Alison Lundergan Grimes, McConnell’s opponent, to answer questions about whether she voted for President Obama, Todd sneered:
“And Kentuckians expect her to cast a tough vote on anything? Is she ever gonna answer a tough question on anything? You wanna be a U.S. senator? If you can’t find a way to stand behind your party’s president … you can disagree with him but you can’t answer a basic question and you come across looking that ridiculous? I think she disqualified herself.”
The GOP effectively used “disqualified” in their attack ads on Grimes, giving credit to the person viewed as NBC News’ top political man. Jim Newell described Todd’s flip remark as “arrogant and short-sighted commentary,” but Todd blamed Grimes for his blunder and said, “She invited this on herself.”
Todd’s hatchet job on Grimes was very different from his profile of Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) when she was running for Congress. Ernst refused to answer any questions from local newspaper boards and wouldn’t even meet with them. While not addressing this, he supported her position on the “Personhood Amendment” that he said would protect “unborn human beings” and “grant all unborn human beings with equal protections.” The definition of “personhood” is “every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being,” starting from an egg. Ernst’s and Todd’s amendment would prevent many forms of contraception.
Todd also thinks that correcting lies is not his job as a journalist. When he interviewed Ed Rendell two years ago, the former Pennsylvania governor pointed out that the media had been complicit in spreading lies about the Affordable Care Act. Todd responded:
“But more importantly, it would be stuff that Republicans have successfully messaged against it. They [the media] don’t repeat the other stuff because they haven’t even heard the Democratic message. What I always love is people say, ‘Well, it’s you folks’ fault in the media.’ No, it’s the President of the United States’ fault for not selling it.”
One example of Todd’s failure occurred last May when House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told host Chuck Todd that “Obamacare made it harder for employers to hire people.” He claimed that it was a “fact” that “any employer in America” will say that. He continued by saying that having Medicaid is nothing because doctors won’t see Medicaid patients. Last year, 75 percent of surveyed employers reported that the Affordable Care Act made no difference in their hiring. Not one major business organization filed a brief to stop the ACA in the King v. Burwell lawsuit heard by the Supreme Court. Todd’s question to Boehner:
“So you don’t see Obamacare as good for the country?”
Todd also gave Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) a pass in “misrepresenting” economics when he said that he claimed that raising taxes on the wealthy while lowering taxes on everyone else doesn’t work:
In May, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) had to explain why the country needs funding for the infrastructure because Todd didn’t seem to understand that lack of money put into it, for example Amtrack, could cost people their lives.
When he was asked why 62 percent of his guests are white men, Todd said that it was because “you want to put the best people on. You want to put the best, smartest people on.” To Todd, the “best, smartest people” are white men. For almost a year, former Secretary of State James Baker appeared an average of once a month to explain what President Obama was doing wrong in the Middle East. It appears that he’s classified as “smartest.”
One of Todd’s guests, comedian Lewis Black, commented that he didn’t know how hosts kept from “barking” at some guests on their show. Todd explained:
“We all sit there because we know the first time we bark is the last time we do the show. There’s something where all of the sudden nobody will come on your show.”
Todd’s lack of sensitivity was clearly demonstrated a few days after the white man killed nine black people in a Charleston (SC). A segment about gun violence showed convicted murderers—all of them black—talking about their regret. Todd may not have noticed this blunder if guest Eugene Robinson and his show’s audience had not pointed out that murder “is not just an African-American problem.” Yet Todd tried to cover himself by saying that the purpose of Meet the Press is to make people “uncomfortable.”
Chuck Todds’ book about President Obama last year, “The Stranger,” blamed the president for income inequality, instability in the Middle East, and partisan as if he had control over the intentional GOP gridlock in Washington. Other Todd criticisms of the president were his “passive leadership and lack of managerial experience.” The review from the Columbian Journalism Review reported:
“Todd has written a disappointing book, a slab of pedestrian punditry…. On a range of issues, from the stimulus to healthcare reform to Syria, Todd weighs in on how the process looked, while devoting barely a second’s thought to the policy’s merits.”
When presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) appeared on Meet the Press, Todd didn’t ask about Sanders’ call for “political revolution” and instead asked him about Hillary Clinton’s “trustworthiness.” Todd tried to lead Sanders into a comparison of Presidents Clinton and Obama as a lead-in to criticisms about the current presidential candidate. “Do you take her at her word?” Todd asked. Sanders expressed hope that “the media will allow us to have a serious debate in this campaign on the enormous issues facing the American people.” Todd showed that he had no intention of a debate about policy by talking about Sanders’ essay on women’s rape fantasy, written 43 years ago, which Sanders said was a badly written attempt to discuss gender roles in the 1970’s.
At least Todd recognized Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate, something he failed to do about Sanders. Todd delighted the far-right, including Rush Limbaugh by this statement that has swept the Internet. “Not quite right” will undoubtedly appear in GOP ads:
“Everybody has watched this campaign and we all come to the same conclusion: there’s something just not quite right. You know, is it enthusiasm? I don’t know. Is it her? I don’t know. There’s just something that doesn’t seem to be big, bold, and boom.”
As Todd trashes at least three of the Democratic presidential candidates, he fails to mention that his wife works for another Dem candidate, Jim Webb. Strategist Kristian Denny Todd is on Webb’s campaign team.
The first principle of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics is “Seek Truth and Report It.” Todd fails on both these points. A point under this principle requires good journalists to consider the source’s motives, yet Todd not only allows smear campaigns on his program against Democrats but also joins in.
Todd thought that Sen. Jim Inhofe’s (R-OK) stunt to use a snowball as proof that climate change doesn’t exist was just plain fun. LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik accused Todd of “pander[ing] to American anti-intellectualism.” He added, “How low can the news departments of our major networks sink?” Farther down, obviously MSNBC has gone several steps lower by replacing a thoughtful show with Todd’s cuteness and softball approach toward Republican lies.