November 21, 2013
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

TV anchors, take heed. When a politician comes on your airwaves to make dramatic and dismissive statements about negative media coverage, drill down. Ask for specifics, just as MSNBC’s Chuck Todd did this morning in an interview with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Todd questioned McDonnell on whether his sprawling gifts scandal — documented at length by The Post — had limited the appeal of Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli II, who lost in a close race earlier this month to Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Government shutdown!, pleaded McDonnell.

Dispensing with the punditry, Todd asked McDonnell about the scandal itself: “What did you think Jonnie Williams — why did you think he was giving you all these gifts and giving your wife all these gifts?”

To which McDonnell gave a classic answer: “Chuck, I don’t think it’s necessary at this point to get into facts that’s been largely outlined, although much of the reporting has not been accurate.”

Todd (fantastically): “Well, we have some time to correct it. I mean, what’s not been accurate?”

McDonnell (predictably): “There have been multiple things, Chuck, that have not been accurate but as long as there’s other reviews going on, I don’t think it would be appropriate to talk about it.”

A very good moment for TV-based accountability journalism.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.