About a month ago, I noted here that none of the Sunday shows appeared to have any interest in discussing the deeply controversial thesis — suggested by Congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein — that perhaps both parties are not equally to blame for what’s gone wrong in Washington.
Mann and Ornstein argued in a widely circulated Post opinion piece and a new book 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. For the Sunday shows, however, this topic was seen as either too hot to handle, or irrelevant entirely.
Now the wall of silence has been broken!
Not by Meet the Press, Face the Nation, or State of the Union, however. It was left to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes to have the two men on to debate their thesis with former RNC chair Michael Steele. And it was pretty good TV, as political TV goes:
As the above clip suggests, this topic goes right to the heart of some of the most important questions about our current political moment. And it’s been more than a month since the Mann/Ornstein book was released. But there’s been still no discussion of the themes it raises on the Sunday shows.
What’s particularly curious about this is that there’s a media angle to this story, too — and most of the time, at least, media figures love talking about themselves and the media’s role in politics. In particular, Mann and Ornstein are alleging that the press’s addiction to fake even handedness has led them not to acknowledge, or at least grapple with, a fact that is absolutely central to understanding what’s happening with our politics right now. Yet none of the Sunday shows want to touch the topic.
“What continues to strike me is the radio silence on these shows about both these themes,” Ornstein said by phone moments ago. “The Republicans bear a lot of the onus for rank obstructionism. But there’s a false equivalence here, and the press crops has been AWOL in its duty to report the truth.”
”Judging by emails and phone calls and personal conversations we’ve had with major reporters, this has generated lots of discussion in the newsrooms, but the shows are making a concious decision to ignore it,” Ornstein continued.