Andrea Mitchell Crosses the Line

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell was bummed out yesterday on her show, Andrea Mitchell Reports, when Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, announced the five-year discretionary spending freeze. Apparently Barnes’s words did not sit well with Mitchell, who thought the administration should be tougher on the contributions entitlements make to the deficit. Said Mitchell:

I think you’ve just made some news in talking about the Pentagon freeze and, as well, the five-year discretionary spending freeze, but we all know you’ve got to do what Willie Sutton did, you’ve got to, you know you rob a bank because that’s where it is, that’s where the money is, and you’ve got to deal with Social Security, Medicare, and huge entitlement growth if you’re really going to get spending cuts and that’s not addressing any of that.

When Barnes responded that the president had established his deficit commission to examine such questions, Mitchell said the president has yet to say what he thinks of those recommendations that did call for cuts in Medicare and Social Security. Last night Obama acknowledged the work of the Simpson-Bowles commission, saying that he did not agree with all of its proposals but that “they made important progress,” and that their conclusion is to tackle the deficit and cut excessive spending wherever we find it. Obama wrapped his words in a lot of vagueness. There was a lot of wiggle room in what he said, and his words could be interpreted different ways.

We don’t know if his comments were good enough for Mitchell. But that shouldn’t matter. Prominent television journalists shouldn’t use their positions to glibly counsel policymakers about complicated matters. That’s a no-no, and her comments crossed the line.

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Trudy Lieberman is a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR's healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. She also blogs for Health News Review. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman. Tags: , , ,