Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Does This Suprise Anyone? 

Mark Milian, blogging at the LA Times, has a blurb today about the Sunday news program Meet the Press may be losing its lead to its competitors, ABC's This Week and CBS's Face the Nation, and the question I ask is if anyone is really surprised?

Gregory, who got the job in large part because of his posturing (some say "Peacocking") as a member of the White House Press Corps during the Bush administration, is not an appealing figure as a moderator (and certainly nowhere near the man whose shoes he stepped into). Some would say that any host of MTP was doomed given the larger than life personality of Tim Russert, but I disagree. There are others in NBC's rank who would make decent moderators (and there are certainly a number of reporters who don't work for NBC but could have been recruited for the job).

Gregory is an abrasive character, and for it his questioning is less like prosecutor-grilling-defendant and more like noone-is-really-interested-in-your-answer-because-they-are-all-wowed-by-me. Thus I was sure that NBC would lose out to either ABC or CBS (it was ABC that was the at the top of the heap in the 1990s that caused NBC to shift from Meet the Press to Meet the Press with Tim Russert. It seems that NBC may be better off going back to a roundtable of reporters asking questions to invited guests. At least it would jive with the title.

At the end of the posting, Milian notes that many in the business feel we have reached a "golden age" of television with the Sunday morning public affairs programs, but I would disagree. The Sunday programs have devolved in response to the live action roundtable babbling that is Cable News programs. All of the Sunday programs now leave just 30 minutes for interview, and then 30 minutes with a roundtable gathering of reporters and pundits, whose volume may be just a bit below that of "Crossfire" but is equally inane. Why is Sam Donaldson still on television, if not for his colorful opinions (and terrible rug)? These 30 minute segments add nothing to our basic understanding of what is going on in politics, and is instead nothing more than pad one liners from the politicos to inside gossip from reporters, fresh from Saturday evening cocktail parties. If this qualifies for the "golden age," then I dread what the future will bring.


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