Yesterday, the National Broadcasting Company buried the memory of Tim Russert by turning Meet the Press into a campaign event for Barack Obama.
People connected with the Sunday talk shows - producers, bookers, hosts, etc. - understand that they get measured, not on whether they shed light on the shadows within the folds of complex issues, but whether they make news.
That is, does something said on Sunday show up on the front pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post on Monday.
To do that, the Sunday shows spend a great deal of time and effort getting the guest or guests most likely to make news. It even has a name: "The Get." As in, "Meet the Press" had The Get when they booked Colin Powell to be on yesterday's program.
As soon as word leaked out that Powell was going to be on "Meet" it was assumed that he would be endorsing Obama. Why else would he be on? To discuss bilateral relations between the U.S. and Chad?
Dear Mr. Mullings:
Am I mistaken, or did Chris Wallace have John McCain as his guest on Fox News Sunday? Isn't that a campaign event on behalf of McCain by Fox?
There is a difference between having an actual candidate on to defend his or her record and positions and having Colin Powell spending the first half of the show endorsing Obama - without a countervailing supporter of John McCain on at the same time.
I'm still not so sure.
I am. If NBC wanted to demonstrate "fairness" (keep that word in mind as we head into the era of an all-Democrat Washington) they would have had Joe Lieberman on with Powell - a Democrat who is voting for McCain.
Powell claimed that race had nothing to do with his announcement; saying if that were the basis of his decision to endorse Obama he could have done it months ago. He said he was disturbed by the continued Conservative bent of the Republican Party.
Yeah, right. Do you think that NBC would have booked Warren Christopher to announce he was voting for McCain if Christopher thought the Democrats were veering too far to the left?
If the Republican Party were lurching to the right, Mike Huckabee would be the nominee, not "centrist" John McCain.
And, by the way, when he was climbing his way up through the Washington, DC power vines:
Powell was appointed National Security Advisor by Ronald Reagan. Pretty conservative, by most accounts.
He was nominated to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by George H.W. Bush. Moderate, in most people's thinking.
He was nominated to be Secretary of State by President George W. Bush. Certainly to 41's right.
And how did the Democratic Party treat Colin Powell when, say, Bill Clinton was President? PBS quotes Dick Morris on the relationship between Clinton and Powell prior to the 1996 re-election campaign as follows:
"Clinton was apoplectic on the subject of Colin Powell, terrified of Colin Powell. For three months, all he could think about was Colin Powell. And he would talk about the press giving Powell a free ride, that the press is promoting Powell's candidacy."
Was the party ideology claim challenged by Tom Brokaw? No. Of course not, because NBC and a significant proportion of the main stream media believes it to be true.
NBC will "win" this week's Sunday Talk Show Sweepstakes. In fact on both ABC's "This Week" and Fox's "Fox News Sunday" George Stephanopoulos and Chris Wallace brought up Powell's endorsement on their shows. It will certainly be on the front page of the Times, the Post and every other newspaper this morning.
When Tim Russert hosted the show, he was tough on every guest - Republican or Democrat. The new "Meet the Press" is an FEC investigation waiting to happen.