I’ve highlighted several times how “Meet the Press” has plunged from news-setter to news joke. Sunday’s show was a perfect example.


David Gregory and Robert Gibbs (Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images for “Meet the Press”)

Take this exchange between the attorney for Trayvon Martin’s family and host David Gregory:

GREGORY: Mister Crump– let me get– let me get Benjamin Crump in here, as well. How do you react to the commissioner saying there’s not a distinction when particularly Judge Scheindlin is– is raising the specter of Trayvon Martin, that idea of universal suspicion that Charles Blow wrote about in saying this is what’s wrong with the policy?

MR. BENJAMIN CRUMP (Trayvon Martin Family Attorney): Yes. We’re here in Phoenix, Arizona, and there the– the Latino community deals with SB 1070 and New York is stop-and-frisk. No matter what you want to call it, essentially it’s racial profiling, and we know Trayvon Martin was profiled for something that night on February 26, 2012, and he had broken no law. He was just walking home. And that’s the problem. When you start this racial profiling, it’s a slippery slope, and it’s so bad for so many in the community. Where does it stop? How do we protect our children once you give police or neighborhood watch authority to just profile us?

That’s entirely wrongheaded and grossly insulting to the New York Police Department, but he’s entitled to his opinion and one can only have sympathy for the Martin family’s agony. However, notice that Gregory leads the witness, as it were, then takes this smear as gospel and declines even to question the assertion that it is a straight line from stop and frisk to murdering black teenagers. He instead immediately turns to Trayvon Martin’s mother to ask her about her activism.

By contrast, in the segment before this exchange, Gregory asked tough questions (“Can you understand the point of view of those African Americans like Charles Blow, who writes a column in the New York Times that says in part this, equating it to the Trayvon Martin case, as I mentioned at outset”), incredulous questions, in fact, of New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (“I first want to focus on that 88 percent number of people not doing anything wrong. Does that not say to you as the commissioner of the police, we’re doing too much of this?”).

When someone advocating a conservative position comes on, there is plenty of scrutiny (“What’s– well, let me just understand what you’re saying. Basically there are more African Americans and Hispanics who are committing crimes in New York City. Therefore, it justifies a higher percentage of those being stopped on the suspicion that they might do something wrong, that they might commit a criminal act, because the judge says that’s faulty reasoning. She’s saying you can’t take an innocent population and say that that’s the same as a– a criminal population.”) By contrast, invite liberal guests, let them say whatever they want, listen sympathetically and don’t argue with them. That’s what “Meet the Press” has become.

But it got worse. In the roundtable you had contributor Robert Gibbs (now there’s an impartial political guru, huh?), Chuck Todd and Gregory trying to guide Hillary Clinton’s pre-campaign-campaign:

MR. CHUCK TODD (Political Director, NBC News/Chief White House Correspondent, NBC News): I am surprised in this first year that she is getting political this quickly…

GREGORY: Really?

MR. TODD: …and laying the groundwork this quickly. I really thought she was going to take– you have sky-high bipartisan approval ratings. You come off foreign policy. It’s the least political of the offices are hold. Why not hold on to that as long as you can? The thing that has surprised me by this is that she has done nothing to tamp down this sort of enthusiasm for her, understandably, and now she is embracing it by giving these series of speeches. It– it means she’s going to become political sooner. And with that comes some negatives. It means you’re going to get scrutiny, like we have seen this week of the Clinton Foundation. You are going to get dings for things that Terry McAuliffe is doing in the Virginia governor’s race, where in– in the minute you stop being above the fray, and that’s the decision she’s made. You are then starting the presidential campaign, I think a lot sooner, and at some point, they’re going to look back and go, ooh, did we– should we really have started this soon, that– that is the one thing about this entire sort of run-up here that surprises me. . . .

MR. GIBBS: We– we– if her campaign becomes an extension really of either her husband’s term or the current president’s term, it’s not necessarily a good deal for her. I completely agree with Chuck. I, as a strategist, am fairly floored that she has decided to enter the public fray so quickly. She could do the foundation work, she could do issue work, she could build the campaign, she could develop a message without having to be so far out front there. And– and, you know, Chuck talks about strong bipartisan approval ratings, those will whittle quite quickly as she steps further and further…

MR. TODD: David, there is one other unintended consequence here and I don’t think she is intending. The more– there is sort of the split inside the Democratic Party: Who’s the leader of the Democratic Party right now? Who’s the future of the Democratic Party, and the more she talks out there, the more you start seeing a gravitational pull back towards Hillary. This hurts the current president of the United States as trying to be leader of the Democratic Party, as trying to move the party as he gets ready for a bunch of fall fights. You know, lame-duck status happens in two phases, right? The first phase is lame-duck status in Washington between the presidency and the White House. And then there’s a second phase of lame-duck status inside your own party. Her coming out early, I think, speeds up that lame-duck process of Barack Obama inside the Democratic Party, and that’s something if I’m sitting in the White House…

GREGORY: You don’t like so much.

MR. TODD: …I– I don’t like so much. You don’t have to start that so quickly.

I don’t like [it] so much.

You understand how putting Gibbs on the panel, who has fish to fry to keep Obama from becoming a lame duck — with the heavy air of despair from him and Todd that Clinton might be blowing it — communicates to the audience a less-than-objective point of view. Yes, Rich Lowry was in there, gamely to try to insert an ounce of critical thinking (“And I think one of the big downsides of her is that as a politician she’s not really a natural, so she’ll be vulnerable again to someone potentially creating a– a prairie fry– fire on the left so she’s fighting the last war here.”). But understand that Todd, Gregory and Gibbs all work for NBC News. The trio is fretting here that their gal is getting bad advice.

The problem is not that NBC’s sterling reputation has been sullied by MSNBC; the problem is that NBC has become MSNBC, a bastion for liberal commiseration where left-wing assumptions are regarded as fact and the name of the game is to help the Democrats evade political traps. No wonder its audience is plummeting. And no wonder the GOP doesn’t want to treat it as an objective news organization.

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