NBC News disgrace

Why Chuck Todd Should Resign or Be Fired

Chuck Todd, host of NBC News' Meet the Press

“Chuck Todd does not get it. Once he becomes the news in this manner he has failed as a journalist.”

Egberto Willies

Maybe it is difficult for some to recall the days when journalism as an industry was raised on a pedestal as the Fourth Estate, the Guardians of the People against Tyranny.

Really. Was a time. Technically, it’s why we have a constitutional provision guaranteeing free press.

Journalism has, of course, changed. One would hope the industry has evolved, but the question remains whether the Fourth Estate has evolved with it, or “evolved to extinction”. While it is easy enough to pick on, say, FOX News in this manner, NBC’s Meet the Press has long been viewed as a fixture of the Fourth Estate.

And whatever we might think of David Gregory’s embarrassing watch, Chuck Todd seems determined to use the helm to run Meet the Press into the rocks. Or, as Egberto Willies explains for Daily Kos:

Daily KosChuck Todd does not get it. Once he becomes the news in this manner he has failed as a journalist. A few days ago Alison Lundergan Grimes was interviewed by the Louisville Courier-Journal editorial board. They asked her whether she voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012. She justifiably refused to answer.

The talking heads and pundits claimed she was not prepared for the question. The lack of sophistication of the traditional media is astounding. It was evident that she was prepared for the question and she intended not to answer it. It was evident that her team likely thought the downside was worse if she answered.

Chuck Todd in another case of irrational verbal diarrhea said that her answer “borders on disqualification.” One wonders how not answering an inconsequential and silly question borders on disqualification yet he never said such on the various substantive lies and misstatements by Mitch McConnell (e.g, implying that Kynect is not Obamacare, etc.).

It is a fair point, indeed even a necessary question. Observing that employers cannot ask job applicants who they voted for as a prerequisite of hiring, we can at least consider the principle in the question of politics. Willies notes that Grimes’ refusal to answer “denied Mitch McConnell’s team a sound bite that would have been replayed ad naseum in a state where President Obama is less popular than dog meat”. Tactically speaking, he has a point that, “In a low-information, sound-bite driven society, denying that sound bite was likely the better move”.

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How Chuck Todd Can Do His Part to Save Journalism From Itself

To: Chuck Todd

re: Excuses, excuses, excuses

Michael Calderone of the Huffington Post reported earlier today:

“Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd stood by his recent comment that Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes “disqualified herself” by refusing to say who she voted for in the last presidential election, a remark highlighted by her Republican opponent, Mitch McConnell, in a new ad.

In a Tuesday email to The Huffington Post, Todd said that “campaigns that try to make others the issue are usually trying to avoid their own scrutiny.”

“I don’t take back my analysis,” Todd continued. “But no journalist likes to be used in a TV ad. It is cheap and likely useless. And McConnell has hidden himself from questions for months. This is a highly cynical campaign we are witnessing in Kentucky. Very uninspiring debate.”

One would hope Mr. Calderone’s reporting is mistaken, because it would be really, really stupid for you to actually try to say something like that, Mr. Todd.

To put it bluntly: This is what you get when you try to make yourself part of the story.

Are you a reporter, or a participant? I mean, really, if reporters aren’t supposed to call out lies when a candidate is clearly lying, then what the hell explains a reporter deciding who is “disqualified” from running for office? It’s one of the reasons the press gets so little sympathy when reporters bawl about how mean the White House is being. You’re supposed to report the stories, not manufacture them.

It’s kind of like how the Roberts Court will write a random decision at odds with constitutional precedent, and then try to say they’re not setting a precedent, or their decision shouldn’t apply to anyone or anything else. We all know it’s excrement, and as we saw with the Windsor case, federal judges around the country have disregarded the Chief Justice. And for good reason.

People should also be disregarding you, Mr. Todd. And with good reason. You’re not a proper reporter or journalist; you’re a hack politician."Waaah!  It's not fair to hold me accountable for the words I say!  I'm just a poor, defenseless reporter!"

NBC News should have buried Meet the Press with Mr. Russert. But they wanted the product to live on, so they put it in David Gregory’s hands, and we all know how awful that went.

And now it’s yours, an outcome the American people will suffer for.

If you want to make a political splash and then cry when people use your words and you find yourself taking heat from real journalists, then quit pretending to be a reporter and just run for office.

It’s not that I loathe you, sir. To the other, if you keep asking that people should look so poorly upon you, then don’t complain when they finally do.

You have no business pretending to be a journalist. Please do the right thing and resign. Someone of your skills has plenty of suitable career opportunities. Maybe play press contact for a 2016 Romney run? I mean, really, they’re going to need someone of your ethics who is capable of doing better than Eric Fehrnstrom’s “Etch-a-Sketch” bit. And, you know, why wouldn’t he run? He’s already got plenty of other pretend journalists trying to “draft” him for a third run. They, too, are trying to manufacture a story. But none of them have yet whined that it’s cheap and useless to hold them accountable for their words.

Do the right thing, Mr. Todd. Resign from Meet the Press and retire from journalism. At least then, in having done the right thing for journalism, you could at least pretend that you care about the profession … and the rest of our society, too.

____________________

Calderone, Michael. “Chuck Todd Defends Grimes ‘Disqualified’ Critique, But Says It’s ‘Cheap’ To Use In TV Ad”. The Huffington Post. 14 October 2014.