Filling the shoes of the legendary Tim Russert, the rare journalist worthy of respect, would not have been be easy for anyone. Searingly intelligent, authentically likable, always prepared and surprisingly even-handed, the one-time chief of staff for U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, turned “Meet the Press” into must-watch television even for those of us who prefer to avoid politics on Sundays.
Russert earned my respect after his now-famous ’00 grilling of then-Vice President Al Gore, who at the time was running for president. Russert leaned on Gore over gun control (an issue that likely cost him his home state of TN), Social Security, a shady fundraiser, and charges that his staff used the White House as a campaign office.
It was a brutal interview and what made it stand out in my mind was that Russert was doing something no one else in the media does, and that was interviewing a Democrat in the exact same way he would a Republican.
The media normally avoids such things like the plague, for they know that this is how narratives get started that might damage the Democrat. This is why today’s media refuses to hold Obama accountable for his repeated lies, won’t cover Fast and Furious unless forced, and strenuously avoids anything involving Obama’s radical past.
Though he was a Democrat, Russert didn’t play that partisan game. His role as a journalist was more important to him than his personal political agenda, and because of that, “Meet the Press” was a rare hour in which actual journalism took place. As a result, the ratings soared and what happened during that hour mattered in America.
Contrast that with Russert’s successor, David Gregory, who has driven “Meet the Press” ratings into the ground.
Because he’s an obvious Obama shill who pretty much sealed his low-rated fate after accusing Newt Gingrich of racism for calling our Food Stamp President a Food Stamp President.
Gregory’s not only biased and partisan, he’s not even likable. Whether you’re Right or Left, let’s just admit he looks and acts like the show-off high school bully we all remember — exactly the kind of guy no one wants to bring into their living room on a Sunday morning.
Russert had it all and therefore he’s a difficult guy to replace. But if NBC had a brain in its head it would stop denying it will fire Gregory, do so immediately, and then offer ABC’s Jake Tapper whatever he wants to come over and fill that chair. There’s no question Tapper would restore the reputation of “Meet the Press” and increase ratings along the way.
Tapper’s every bit as smart, likable, and objective as Russert, and like Russert, Tapper drill-downs on his interview subject without ever appearing disrespectful or like he’s preening for the camera. But NBC won’t replace Gregory with anyone for the same reason ABC installed George Stephanopoulos as the host of its own Sunday show, “This Week” (even though the free world knows that’s rightfully Tapper’s spot).
ABC wants a former Clinton operative in that chair and guiding narratives through the end of the election, and NBC is no different. Just as desperate to see Obama reelected, Gregory’s embarrassing performance doesn’t matter.
As long as Gregory does the White House’s bidding, ratings be damned, his job is secure.
It’s just a fact that when you come to the realization that the media’s primary purpose is to further a left-wing agenda, suddenly everything it does makes perfect sense.
No, really, try it.
You’ll see what I mean.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC