Last month, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein published an Op ed and a book making the extremely controversial argument that both parties aren’t equally to blame for what ails Washington. They argued that the GOP — by allowing extremists to roam free and by wielding the filibuster to achieve government dysfunction as a political end in itself — were demonstrably more culpable for creating what is approaching a crisis of governance.
It turns out neither man has been invited on to the Sunday shows even once to discuss this thesis. As Bob Somerby and Kevin Drum note, these are among the most quoted people in Washington — yet suddenly this latest topic is too hot for the talkers, or not deemed relevant at all.
I ran this thesis by Ornstein himself, and he confirmed that the book’s publicity people had tried to get the authors booked on the Sunday shows, with no success.
“Not a single one of the Sunday shows has indicated an interest, and I do find it curious,” Ornstein told me, adding that the Op ed had well over 200,000 Facebook recommends and has been viral for weeks. “This is a level of attention for a book that we haven’t received before. You would think it would attract some attention from the Sunday shows.’
Ornstein also noted another interesting point. Their thesis takes on the media for falling into a false equivalence mindset and maintaining the pretense that both sides are equally to blame. Yet despite the frequent self-obsession of the media, even that angle has failed to generate any interest. What’s more, some reporters have privately indicated their frustration with their editorial overlords’ apparent deafness to this idea.
“The piece focused on press culpability — it would be hard to find a more sensitive issue for the media than the question of whether they’re doing their job,” Ornstein said. “We got tons of emails from some of the biggest reporters in the business, saying, `We’ve raised this in the newsroom, and editors just brush it aside.’”
Ornstein, while stressing that he wasn’t casting any blame, noted that the topic hasn’t come up on Howard Kurtz’s weekend media show.
This is curious. Is “experts confirm that, yes, one side is more to blame than the other, and journalists should say so” really too hot a topic for the Sunday shows? Is it not relevant or interesting?