“Meet the Press” isn’t what it used to be. After a remarkably softball interview with President Obama on New Year’s Day, moderator David Gregory on Sunday let former secretary of state Colin Powell filibuster through one question after another, never following up or, as they used to do in the good old days, confronting the interviewee with statements that directly contradict his spin. Several examples suffice to show that Gregory is ill-prepared, doesn’t listen to the answers or has no interest in conducting tough interviews of the Obama administration’s surrogates. (Maybe it is all three.)


David Gregory’s recent stunt of displaying a high-capacity magazine (Associated Press)

Powell asserted that Chuck Hagel is “superbly qualified” to be defense secretary. Umm. You would think an interviewer would ask: But doesn’t he lack executive experience? Wouldn’t someone interested in pressing Powell (and the administration) have asked in response to Powell’s assertion that the Pentagon is in fact “bloated” in places: But hasn’t Hagel seemed to favor the sequester? Does that reflect a responsible view?

Likewise, Powell made the rather stunning comment in regard to Hagel’s “Jewish lobby” comment: “That term slips out from time to time.” Huh?! Has he heard other things slip out from Hagel’s mouth? Does Hagel not understand the anti-Semitic inferences that Jews have divided loyalties?  What about Hagel’s comments he isn’t the senator for Israel? What about his comment that Jews should pay for a USO facility in Israel? Nope. Gregory let it slide.

Most egregious was Powell’s venomous comment that “There’s also a … dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the [Republican] Party. What I do mean by that? I mean by that is they still sort of look down on minorities. How can I evidence that? When I see a former governor say that the president is shuckin’ and jivin’, that’s a racial-era slave term. When I see another former governor after the president’s first debate where he didn’t do very well, … [say] that the president was lazy ….”  How can a serious interviewer let a comment like that, so sweeping and so egregious, slip by?

It is a serious and deeply wrongheaded comment. Gregory could have pressed Powell in any number of ways. Didn’t some Democrats accuse Obama of being lazy (on MSNBC,  no less) ? Who else is a racist in the GOP? Is there anyone in the U.S. Senate? Wasn’t  it an ex- governor (Sarah Palin) who holds no office whom he quoted? Does he think everything MSNBC hosts say is reflective of the Democratic Party? Is a single ex-governor the best he can do? Was the George W. Bush administration intolerant? Are House Republicans intolerant? Has he ever met Sen.Tim Scott (R-S.C.)? Are the 48 percent of Americans who voted for Mitt Romney intolerant?

I suspect Gregory let it slide with no hint of disagreement because he saw nothing objectionable to labeling the GOP (or “some parts” — which ones?) as racist. It is such an accepted part of the liberal media group think that it doesn’t even merit notice, it seems. It is interesting, isn’t it, that Hagel, who has an entire record of utterances, gets a pass, yet Powell is ready to indict the entire GOP on the basis of such scrawny evidence?

As disgraceful as Powell’s performance was, Gregory’s was worse. If he isn’t up to making “Meet the Press” a tough outing for all pols, as it has been over the years, he should give up his chair. He has made the NBC Sunday morning show into the equivalent of a MSNBC evening show — nothing but slow pitches for the left and the administration’s defenders.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.