Bryant Gumbel told The Daily Beast he was “embarrassed” that Sarah Palin guest-hosted the “Today” show.
“[Hosts] used to be judged not just on their popularity level but the extent to which they were capable of interviewing someone or reporting on a situation, or able to have a degree of gravitas,” Gumbel lamented. “Now that is secondary to being popular.”
Gumbel is worried that Palin’s “gravitas” is second to her popularity, at least as far the network is concerned. It’s rich irony coming from a man who, during his 90s shift at “Today” conveniently defined “gravitas” back in the 90s as “defending Clinton” during Sex-Gate. Memorable quote:
We’ve got an awful lot to talk about this week, including the sexual harassment suit against the President [Clinton]. Of course, in that one, it’s a little tough to figure out who’s really being harassed.”
To liberals like Bryant Gumbel, Bill Clinton simultaneously existed in their minds as two different beings: a clever, quick-witted decision-maker who withstood the battle of a fiery primary. Clinton was cool, he played golf, he was a decision-maker. When the harassment scandal broke, reporters transformed perception of Clinton in the media to that of a fragile wallflower who was led astray by an army of insatiable jezebels.
It was this accepted dichotomy that Gumbel helped perpetuate with his bias while on “Today.”
Palin walked on the “Today” show set transparent with who she was and what she believed. She didn’t insult the intelligence of the audience by pretending to possess Vulcan-level impartiality. She didn’t try to cash in on the expired notion that journalists are objective beyond reproach to mask her leanings. Gumbel did however, and still does to this day. He lives off the credit of objectivity earned by long-ago objective reporters before him as a way to excuse his bias, which is thick in both his delivery and presentation. His belief that he was an objective reporter when he emphatically was not helped others in undermining the purpose of American media — and the public’s respect of it.
The latter is exponentially more embarrassing, whereas the former is not.