Posted by: Joe Eds | January 11, 2010

Sunday Shows Problem

This article in Politico dissects and analyzes the problem with the Sunday News Shows (Meet the Press, Face the Nation, This Week, etc). Too insulated, too inside, same guests and panelists, too much “conventional wisdom” not enough grounded facts, too much “gotcha – SEE YOU CHANGED YOUR OPINION FROM FIVE YEARS AGO!!” type questions. The big problem is lack of fact-checking on the spot and being unable to respond to claims or flat-out gossip.Agreed on all fronts. The Sunday shows often serve as a relief from the cable show shout matches, but they’re too self-serving. And by that I mean on all fronts – the host asks banal-gotcha questions and gets to “look tough with politicians” the politicians, staff, aides, writers on the show get to champion / defend/ rebutt whatever topic is big that week and regurgitate their talking points. Everyone can leave achieving their “goal”. The format is not really the problem. The main problem is the questions asked, “Do you feel the president still has control of blank?” What the hell is the surrogate going to say? Yes, you got me. I give.  No, they spin. And the Sunday shows are designed to get the surrogates or even the politicians themselves to spin out of problems, even when the host claims they’re holding their feet to the fire.

Solution: Get rid of the surrogates. Get rid of the politicians. Get reporters on analysts on there only. Let them fill us in on what is going on. Of course, that solution has a side-effect of which “analysts” make it. Former politicians have allegiance. Columnists have readers. News reporters work for networks that have audiences and they’d rather hear about a potentially racist remark taken out of context then the sub-paragarph (b) page 245 of the new health care bill. So it’d be tough to settle on who is a “good panelist” versus who is towing the party line.

And when the news shows respond with, “Well we get three million viewers every Sunday so we must be doing something right?” My response* is the reason most Eskimos eat blubber is that it’s the only thing available at the arctic buffet. DON’T SETTLE ON STATUS QUO. BE BETTER at what you do and we the audience will reward you.

*old Dennis Miller joke.



  1. I would like to slap a gigantic “FUCKIN’ A” stamp on that first paragraph.

    The question of where we go from here is a good one, and I don’t have a good answer. Unfortunately, I suspect this won’t get sorted out until the more fundamental shifts occurring in the news world have worked themselves out as well. Thanks to technological progress (read: the internet machine, and to a lesser extent niche cable) how we as a society produce, deliver and consume news and political analysis has changed dramatically in just the last few years, and will change further in the coming decade.

    All that is guaranteed to deeply affect those questions of hierarchies, allegiances and roles amongst journalists and “analysts.” It’s gonna be very interesting for a while.

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