I’ve been criticizing David Gregory for a good long time, so I can’t say I’m surprised that he finally was dismissed as host of “Meet the Press.” But it does suggest that TV news executives are painfully slow to recognize reality — probably not the best quality for a news operation.
What would make “MTP” a good, watchable show again?
Stop having guests who are not representative of anyone but themselves and then affixing their views to their party or a movement as a whole. It might be good TV, but it’s not honest or informative when Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) is there to tell us what “the House Republicans think.” Too often, self-appointed characters are not challenged as to whether their views are actually shared even within their own party.
Focus more on content. There is no deficit of horse-race politics. What is missing is perspective, seriousness about substance (rather than just mechanics). Too often these shows boil down to “What is the media saying?” or “How will this play in Congress?” without ever examining the substance of the issue. That is not very enlightening and doesn’t add anything to what people have been watching and reading all week. It really isn’t possible to discuss Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects, for example, if you don’t understand her purported policy dispute with the White House on Syria. The best journalists are the ones who know something about something. Pete Williams on the legal system, Josh Rogin on foreign policy and CNBC hosts of market shows all come to mind.
Self-awareness, please. Journalists aren’t representative of the country as a whole ideologically, religiously, socially or in most any respect. Their pet issues and perspectives (which may be near-unanimous in their news organizations) have to be constantly restrained, balanced and challenged.
For goodness’s sake, these panelists have been around since the 1980s. This is not an argument for inexperienced or unknowledgeable voices, but recycling the same people year after year is a bore and not likely to lead to any new insights. At least mix up the panels between those who recall the LBJ administration as an adult and those, who for example, covered or ran one of the campaigns in the last presidential election.
Less provincialism. Ignoring other outlets’ polls (especially when the home team’s poll is out of whack) is the most obvious example, but disregarding local coverage that is more reflective of campaigns and issues in their states and cities is also a sin of omission. Also taking your own outlet’s 2016 presidential poll seriously in 2014 as predictive of much of anything when the field is not even determined is misleading viewers. If you aren’t reading and asking Des Moines Register reporters what is going on in Iowa, chances are you are missing something or getting a lot wrong. There are reporters (Jay Root of the Texas Tribune comes to mind) who have been covering the would-be presidential candidates up close for some time. They know an awful lot more than national talking heads. And they’ve got a lot of great, vivid detail that national media people don’t have.
Don’t be afraid of nuance. There are conservatives and there are conservatives. Calling something the conservative position or even the “House conservative” viewpoint is practically meaningless and is the sort of thing reporters do to force facts into a preexisting plot line.
No filibusters. From the guests, that is, but also from long-winded panelists. It’s a lame trick as bad as not answering the question at all. Whether it’s the president or a general or the network’s own pundit, you can’t let them fill time and avoid follow-ups.