Sunday, August 10, 2008

Meet the Whaa?

I recall being a high schooler trying to make my first presidential ballot choice and realizing I had no context for the decision. Print news was arcane and wordy. TV news was superficial. Reporters and pundits seemed unreliable sources. I wanted to know, from the horses' mouths what was important. It was an age at which the press was only present when invited. I found that very thing early on Sunday mornings. Not much gets a teenager out of bed before noon on Sundays, but I was hooked. Watching Meet the Press and Face the Nation has been one of my most persistent habits.

I've always appreciated the relative lack of punditry: the ability to raise contentious issues without political agenda, the ability to and ask uncomfortable questions with respect and civility. The gentleman's agreement seemed to be: we will ask you pithy, direct questions about weighty current issues. We will not engage in gotchas. We will give you time to fully answer the question without shouting or interruption. We will not allow you to misdirect the conversation.

Apparently Brokaw didn't get the memo when he recently took over MTP. In a few short weeks, he has dumped the show's winning format as if to pay homage to Tim Russert by showing no one else could fill his shoes ... kinda like saying the JV pays homage to the Varsity team by sucking. Certainly, it's still civil ... to a fault. He makes sure he won't offend his guest by asking only milk-toast softball questions. He's done away with such trifles as requiring on-topic answers. Indeed, he doesn't even bother to quote the press anymore, substituting nice platitudes like "people I talk to are saying..." or "my friends have asked me ..."

He'd best be careful, lest NBC get sued for false advertising. Perhaps they should pre-emptively change the show's name. They could go with a nice unoffensive "Meet Tom Brokaw" or "Talk to Tom" ... but my personal preference: "Softball with Tom Brokaw."

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