Pop-Up Video, Meet the Press

When asked on Sunday’s Meet The Press if he’s “interested in being vice president,” after some back-and-forth with Brian Williams, Sen. Joe Biden said:

BIDEN: If asked I will do it. I made it clear I do not want to be asked…

WILLIAMS: Do not want to be asked but if asked the answer is…

BIDEN: Of course. Because if the presidential nominee thought I could help him win, I’m going to say to the first African-American candidate about to make history in the world that no, I will not help you out like you want me to? Of course I’ll say yes.

A moment to which John Harwood, of CNBC and The New York Times, referred back later on Sunday’s program.

HARWOOD: That candor you got out of Joe Biden on, “Of course I’ll say yes,” when every other veep candidate is on this show for the rest of the year, whatever their answer is when asked the question, a thought-bubble ought to appear over their head, “Of course I will say yes.”

Setting aside whether or not Biden’s supposed admission-couched-in-qualifiers-and-caveats should be described as “candor:” a “thought-bubble?” Pop-Up Video, Meet The Press! Which could actually make for a really compelling sort of Sunday morning show.

The moderator could “challenge the conventional wisdom,” as Arianna Huffington says Russert’s replacement must do, while also attracting younger viewers (well, VH1-young, anyway). Moreover, this hard work of “challenging” would be outsourced to the fun graphical bubbles floating above the heads of MTP guests as they are talking, rather than the moderator having to actually directly challenge his or her guests, personally alienate them, and possibly deprive him/herself of a future booking— blame those wacky bubbles! Everyone celebrated Russert’s MTP for confronting Bigwigs with things they said or did that don’t jibe with what they’re saying or doing now. Sort of like the Pop-Up Video of Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon” when, as Boy George sings that he is a “man without conviction,” a pop-up reminds viewers that George, in fact, has “one conviction; drug possession in 1985.” Moreover from the sound of it, Pop-Up Video was positively Meet The Press-ish about its research: per Wikipedia, thought-bubble facts were “double- or triple-sourced, according to the producers.”

Imagine the thought-bubble (or “info-nugget” as Pop-Up Video called them) we might have seen above President Bush’s head during Christiane Amanpour’s professed Favorite Russert Interview Moment: the one during a 2004 interview with President Bush, Amanpour told New York magazine (I can’t find the link to this but I read the print copy last night), when “President Bush suddenly leaned forward and said, ‘I am a war president’.”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.