During a panel discussion of the 2008 presidential election on the July 15 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, syndicated columnist Robert Novak asserted: "Republicans are very pessimistic about 2008. When you talk to them off the record, they don't see how they can win this thing. And then they think for a minute, and only the Democratic Party, with everything in their favor, would say that, 'OK, this is the year either to have a woman or an African-American to break precedent, to do things the country has never done before.' And it gives the Republicans hope." Neither host Tim Russert nor any of Novak's fellow panelists, Bloomberg News Washington managing editor Al Hunt, Republican strategist Mike Murphy, and Democratic strategist Bob Shrum -- all of whom are, like Novak, white men -- commented on or challenged Novak's assertion. As Media Matters for America documented, the four Sunday-morning talk programs on the broadcast networks, Meet the Press, ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, and Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, feature guest lists that are overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male.
A breakdown of the guests on Meet the Press from 2005 to 2006 shows that 76 percent of the guests on the program were white men.
From the July 15 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:
RUSSERT: Bob Novak, there also seems to be a rather subtle message -- subliminal, nonetheless real, in the [Sen.] Barack Obama [D-IL] message, and that is, it's time to turn the page. Twenty-eight years of two families controlling the presidency.
NOVAK: Absolutely. And that is something that everybody talks about. And, you know, talk about nostalgia -- it's hard for a lot of these people to believe this, but there's not that much nostalgia for Bill Clinton. I just find people who aren't Democratic professional politicians, who are -- you know, are sorry that they've had eight years of Republicans, they don't really yearn for Bill Clinton. But the thing --
RUSSERT: But he does -- he's very popular in all the polls.
NOVAK: A lot of people don't want him back, though, for a third term. And I think it's very dangerous to call this a third term of Bill Clinton. There's one other thing: the morale of the Republicans --
RUSSERT: Who's done that? Who's called it the third term?
SHRUM: It's dangerous, and that's why he's doing it.
RUSSERT: Nice try, Novak.
NOVAK: There's a --
RUSSERT: Consider the source.
NOVAK: Republicans are very pessimistic about 2008. When you talk to them off the record, they don't see how they can win this thing. And then they think for a minute, and only the Democratic Party, with everything in their favor, would say that, "OK, this is the year either to have a woman or an African-American to break precedent, to do things the country has never done before." And it gives the Republicans hope.
HUNT: You know, I have a different take. I don't think the Bill Clinton thing is that big a deal at this time. I think if you look at these two front-runners, and you look at over the last six months, and they both have probably exceeded expectations. Go back to January 15. If you said, "Six months from now, Hillary Clinton will have minimized her Iraq problem, she will have raised over 50 million dollars, she would have done better than probably anyone in the joint forums, she would be cleaning up with political endorsements," you would say, "It's all over. She's won."