We’re not in the business of telling reporters what to write, or what to broadcast, or when to write or broadcast it, but the upcoming edition of NBC’s Meet the Press strikes us as worthy of looking at — even preemptively — and seriously questioning the decisions that went into the guest booking process.
According to the MSNBC Web site, Tim Russert, in the first post-election edition of his influential Sunday talk show, will host (Independent? Democratic?) Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman and Arizona Republican Senator John McCain — who wasn’t even up for reelection in the 2006 midterms — to “discuss the midterm election results, the Iraq war, the Gates nomination and setting the stage for 2008.”
While that sounds fine for a show in, say, September, it’s an odd choice to make for the first show after the Democratic party swept back into power in the House and the Senate. Whether or not Lieberman is going to caucus with the Democrats, the fact is that he doesn’t hold a leadership position in the party, and, one would assume, is pretty seriously estranged from the party’s leadership. We would be surprised if Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid or Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer couldn’t make room in their schedule for Russert. So why not bring someone in who actually, you know, belongs to the majority party? Given the bruising reelection fight he just survived in Connecticut, where leading Democrats campaigned against him, the choice of Lieberman just flat out doesn’t make sense.
The liberal blog Think Progress wrote last night that “the first post-election edition of Meet the Press will exclusively feature politicians who support the war in Iraq, neither of whom ran as a Democrat.”
A fair point, though the fact that both senators support the war doesn’t cause us any great alarm. The second point, which cuts closer to the issue, is that while the Democrats are now back in power, Meet the Press for some inexplicable reason is ignoring the architects of that victory. In fact, it’s ignoring Democrats altogether.
Media Matters also picked up the ball and ran with the story last night, noting that “when Republicans won control of Congress in the 1994 midterm elections, the guest list for the first Meet the Press following that election included then-Sens. Phil Gramm (R-TX) and Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY), and then-House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt (MO).”
So what’s the difference now? We’re not accusing MTP or Russert of having ideological bias, but some simple common sense would go a long way here. There’s no doubt that McCain and Lieberman have long been Platinum members of the old boys club of Sunday talk shows — along with Joe Biden, Pat Buchanan, David Broder and George Will — to be trotted out whenever a host is looking for some good quotes and a polished presentation. But that doesn’t mean that they’re relevant here. In fact, given Lieberman’s outsider status and McCain’s presidential ambitions, we’re hard pressed to come up with two less appropriate guests to talk about the Democratic party and the 2008 presidential race.