Meet whose press? Russert's panels pit conservative pundits against journalists

››› ››› KATIE BARGE, MICHELLE JEUNG & AMANDA FAZZONE

Meet whose press? Russert's panels pit conservative pundits against journalists

On September 26, writer Joshua Micah Marshall posted the following to his Talking Points Memo blog:

I was just here talking on the phone and watching [NBC's] Meet the Press on mute. Seeing their end-of-show commentary panel really drives home the state of affairs in what now goes for balance in DC conventional wisdom. Of the four panelists, is the profoundly middle-of-the-road David Broder, a paragon of Washington's establishment assumptions. For the sake of discussion, let's call him balanced or neutral. Two of the other four are Bill Safire and Bob Novak, two of the most prominent and conservative columnists in the country. Finally, you have Doris Kearns Goodwin. In her personal views, it's probably fair to call her a liberal. But, as you might say, she doesn't play one on TV. She goes in for high-minded commentary, which is fine in itself but makes her little balance for Safire and Novak. There's your balance. Two against one -- and the one has one arm tied, voluntarily, behind her back."

And the September 26 broadcast was only the latest Meet the Press featuring such "balance." MMFA examined Meet the Press panels in which at least three participants appeared together and at least one of those participants was a media figure. Of the last ten Meet the Press panels that included at least one member of the media, five were similarly skewed: Conservative columnists or conservative pundits were pitted against journalists who don't espouse a particular ideology; no progressives appeared on those panels. In one panel, two conservative pundits appeared alongside one Democratic senator. Further, conservative media figures have made ten appearances; only one openly liberal member of the media has made an appearance.

Five panels skewed to the right

  • September 26: two journalists, two conservative columnists

    David S. Broder, Washington Post political correspondent

    Doris Kearns Goodwin, presidential biographer

    Robert D. Novak, conservative syndicated columnist and co-host of CNN's Crossfire

    William Safire, conservative New York Times columnist and former speechwriter for President Richard Nixon

  • September 5: one Democratic senator, two conservative pundits

    Pat Buchanan, MSNBC analyst and former Republican presidential candidate

    Newt Gingrich, FOX News Channel political contributor and former Republican speaker of the House

    Senator Bob Graham (D-FL)

  • June 20: two journalists, one conservative columnist

    Robert D. Novak, conservative syndicated columnist and co-host of CNN's Crossfire

    Katty Kay, BBC News correspondent

    Joe Klein, TIME magazine senior writer

  • May 30: three journalists, one conservative

    Stephen F. Hayes, staff writer at the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard

    Joe Klein, senior writer at TIME magazine

    Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News

    Roger Simon, chief political correspondent for U.S. News & World Report

  • February 29: two journalists, two conservative columnists

    David S. Broder, political correspondent for The Washington Post

    Doris Kearns Goodwin, presidential biographer

    Robert D. Novak, conservative syndicated columnist and co-host of CNN's Crossfire

    William Safire, conservative New York Times columnist and former speechwriter for President Richard Nixon

  • Five panels included only journalists, or pitted conservatives evenly against progressives

  • August 1: three journalists

    Ron Brownstein, staff writer and columnist for the Los Angeles Times

    John Harwood, national political editor of The Wall Street Journal

    Gwen Ifill, moderator and managing editor of PBS's Washington Week, senior correspondent for PBS's The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer

  • August 15: four journalists

    Anne E. Kornblut, staff writer at The Boston Globe

    John Meacham, managing editor at Newsweek

    Roger Simon, chief political correspondent for U.S. News & World Report

    John Harwood, national political editor of The Wall Street Journal

  • July 11: two journalists v. one progressive author v. one conservative

    David S. Broder: political correspondent for The Washington Post

    Ron Brownstein, staff writer and columnist for the Los Angeles Times

    Jack W. Germond, progressive author and political columnist for the Baltimore Sun

    William F. Buckley, founder and editor-at-large of the conservative magazine National Review

  • June 27: two former Clinton officials v. one Republican senator v. one conservative pundit

    Madeleine Albright, secretary of state under former President Bill Clinton

    John Podesta, chief of staff to former President Clinton, currently CEO of the Center for American Progress

    Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

    Newt Gingrich, political contributor to FOX News Channel and former Republican speaker of the House

  • April 11: three journalists

    David S. Broder, political correspondent for The Washington Post

    Ron Brownstein, Los Angeles Times staff writer and columnist

    Lisa Myers, NBC News senior investigative correspondent

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