You may recall the cynical comment made by a CBS executive the night Donald Trump was elected, “This is terrible for the country but it’s great for CBS.” The man saw the handwriting on the wall. Television had been instrumental in creating this monster and now television was going to clean up in covering him. And it did, for four interminable years.
Bearing that in mind, add the fact that Chuck Todd recently retired from Meet The Press and Kristen Welker took his place. So what does she do? Why, she decides to normalize the adjudicated rapist, the quadruple-indicted, thrice married, twice impeached former president who is running for office in order to grift his cult and in a perfect world (for him) pardon himself. As Maureen Dowd put it, “a man is running to run the government he tried to overthrow while he was running it, even as he is running to stay ahead of the law.” Yet NBC is fine with its new host of the “longest run show on television,” as it proudly boasts, normalizing this madness. Just simply fine.
This observation from Dan Froomkin, the editor of Press Watch and a media analyst, is spot on.
In these clips, Trump utters about 30 different lies, and there's zero pushback from Kristen Welker, who instead calls him "fired up" and "defiant" – and "the president." This is, actually, worse than the CNN town hall in terms of normalizing a maniac. https://t.co/WRAIDOtgS3
— Dan Froomkin (PressWatchers.org) (@froomkin) September 15, 2023
Other views are sprouting up like wildfire on X, exposing the fact that the media has always played a part in Trump being able to get where he got. This is the point of no return. If we can’t do something to change this in 2024, then I fear for what January 20, 2025 may bring.
We know from past interviews of Trump by pros like Chris Wallace & Jonathan Swan that's it's possible to question him in a way that exposes him (or gets him to expose himself) as a big ignorant fraud. Welker (and many others) just lack the skill or will (or both) to do it.
— Langdon Grant (@langdongrant2) September 16, 2023
It's not really even an interview. It's just a box-checking exercise for her.
Then she sits with Andrea Mitchell afterwards and giggles like a starstruck groupie about how "fired up" Trump is.
This was her chance to show she's ready for prime time, and she choked it.
— Langdon Grant (@langdongrant2) September 16, 2023
That’s all that this is, is television, not political commentary or analysis. The television president being given softball questions by a television journalist. It’s all fluffing and fun by the beautiful people. We are doomed if the plug on this isn’t pulled right freaking now and a better way of doing political news coverage doesn’t emerge. The problem is institutional. That much is evident, because we are going into year eight.
.@MeetThePress' Kristen Welker unzipping the Trump Access Journo fly on Sunday's click-bait show. #BoycottMeetThePress. She will join the Trump Fluffer Click-bait Corps. @NBCNews is just another Access Journalism site. cc: @kwelkernbc pic.twitter.com/CMBUV3KBGT
— Puesto Loco™ (@PuestoLoco) September 17, 2023
The dearth of sound political reporting in this country (other than an occasional Jonathan Swan piece) and access journalism, are killing this country. You recall this past Monday when the scandal du jour (which ended up running all week) of Lauren Boebert’s misbehavior at a Denver theater broke. The same day, a piece dropped at Politico. It said, “With her seat in danger, the Coloradan is starting to sound like a completely different person at home.” The headline was “Lauren Boebert Ditches the MAGA thing In Colorado.” Boebert, we were told, was a many splendored personality. She was not just the MAGA bad girl, oh no, she had changed.
Boebert is hardly the only member projecting a different version of herself in the Capitol than she does back home. But her embrace of a political split personality illustrates the limits of raucous Trump-first conservatism in a competitive district. Her Freedom Caucus stardom hasn’t immunized her from the risk of playing more to the GOP base than voters back home.
This piece shows you why Politico is called by its worst detractors “Tiger Beat On The Potomac.” It’s sheer drivel. It’s a puff piece. Boebert is a TV star, a Freedom Caucus star. The piece shows Boebert changing her high heels and putting on cowboy boots. It is precisely this level of so-called journalism that has nurtured the cancer that MAGA and Donald Trump and most certainly Lauren Boebert, are on the body politic.
Yes, the realities of access journalism decree that if you play nice with people in power, they give you access so that you can get quotes and things for your stories. That’s old school journalism and it might have worked fine in a different day and age. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. Nowadays access journalism results in the acceptance and normalization of the exact same subversive elements that are destroying our nation.
I wrote a piece last November, The Press Has To Rise To This Moment In History Or Perish. If you can spare six minutes, please read this piece. It explains that the problem in this country is not just that the GOP as we knew it is gone, but that the traditional way of political reporting does not allow for the true horror of events as they really are occurring to get full coverage and be explored in context, because to do so is seen as “bias” and that is anathema. So the both sider madness continues, regardless of facts that scream, “Look at me! Look at what’s happening here! Look at what it means!” and take me seriously. And the problem with that, is that we are then left with an overwhelming sense of futility, a sense that none of this matters somehow, that there are no answers. Life is just a TV episode, a momentary stimulation and nothing is real or serious.
Both siderism and access journalism are killing this country. The media has to change. Political reporting has to change.
And the first step, as I see it, is definitely, let’s BoycottMeetThePress. If Welker ends up ghosted and a pariah, maybe she will actually do the job she should do and tell the truth. The CNN Town Hall which normalized Trump resulted in Chris Licht being fired. Maybe Welker needs to be fired to, in order to prod at least a few people in television news to get in touch with reality and stop playing with itself, in an endless meta loop, of making everything “fair and balanced” by pretending that we live in normal times or that Donald Trump is a normal candidate.
As I wrote in my piece last November, it’s time for a sea change. It truly is. If television journalism is more entertainment than truth oriented, we will amuse ourselves to death, just as Neil Postman warned us we would back in the 80’s in a book he wrote, Amusing Ourselves To Death: Public Discourse In The Age Of Show Business.
What Postman said is coming true. What happened in the movie A Face In The Crowd is coming true. We are living it.
You can do your part. #BoycottMeetThePress. Ask everyone you know to do the same. NBC needs to get the message. And CBS needs to get it, too, after Lesley Stahl’s interview, which normalized Marjorie Taylor Greene. The media is complicit in the rise of MAGA and what could soon be the fall of democracy. They need to wake up, smell the coffee, and do an about face.