Come on, Roger Ailes, hire the man already why dontcha?
I stopped watching Meet the Press on a regular basis shortly after Tim Russert passed away. But I feel obligated to watch when we get near an election, just so I can keep an eye on what is going out to national audiences on the broadcast networks. It became obvious to me a long time ago that David Gregory is on an endless audition for the next Fox News gig.
This past Sunday, September 30, 2012, David Gregory grabbed the Republican torch and ran with that sucker. His interview with David Plouffe was more Fox News than Fox News is and it was noticed by a few people. As I listened to his questions, I was astounded by how loaded with GOP talking points and opinion they were.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that David Gregory was the keynote speaker at the convention of a Republican advocacy group, along with Karl Rove and Speaker John Boehner.
Let’s take a look at some of David Gregory’s questions a little closer, piece by piece. (emphasis is all mine)
Question 1 (to be analyzed)
GREGORY: “I want to talk about some issues including a foreign policy crisis in Libya…”
As you can see, Gregory calls the attack on our embassy a “foreign policy crisis”, which plays right into the Republican party’s attack by pointing at the President, rather than portraying it as a senseless act of violence against America. Gregory goes on…
“…and the fact that this administration has changed its tune when it comes to describing the raid on our compound, on our embassy in Libya that killed our ambassador Chris Stevens and others, of course, on the ground.”
Don’t you just love the phrase “changed its tune”? The implication in that phrase makes it sound like it was a “flip-flop” or worse yet, a lie. The odd thing is that David Gregory then plays a clip of Ambassador Rice from the September 16 episode of Meet the Press where she says this…
“Let me tell you the– the best information we have at present. First of all, there’s an FBI investigation which is ongoing. And we look to that investigation to give us the definitive word as to what transpired. But putting together the best information that we have available to us today, our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what have just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of– of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted of course by the video.”
Now seriously, Ambassador Rice made it very clear that it was “the best information we have at present” and that the FBI was investigating and we look to them for “the definitive word as to what transpired”. She then repeated “the best information we have available, our current assessment…” and went on to say that what happened in Benghazi was (according to best info at present) initially a spontaneous reaction to what happened in Cairo hours earlier. I’m not sure what else David Gregory wanted Ambassador Rice to say before he would believe that the administration was still investigating the incident and wasn’t sure exactly what happened. Maybe if it had been printed on a giant Nerf baseball bat and smacked against his head a few times, he might have heard it…or believed it.
“There was a caveat there. She said the FBI was still investigating. But the thought was it was a spontaneous reaction. A couple of days before that, the Libyan president said, no, in fact, al Qaeda was behind this attack.”
Notice how Gregory dismisses the multiple caveats Ambassador Rice gave with a quick “There was a caveat.” He then oversimplifies her statement by saying “[B]ut the thought was it was a spontaneous reaction” and then makes a lame attempt at a “gotcha” moment by pulling a but, but, but…the Libyan president said a couple days before that al Qaeda was behind the attack. And exactly where is the problem, David? Is David Gregory implying that the FBI wasn’t needed in Libya to investigate the deaths of 4 American diplomats? Does David Gregory think we should just accept the word of the new President of Libya, it’s not like the guy was under any pressure…having just failed at protecting our embassy, something that the host country is obligated to do. Or is David Gregory’s problem just that there was a contradiction, even after the many caveats preempting Amb. Rice’s answer. That’s some hard hitting journalism, David. Nice one! LOL!
There was more to the question and more Fox News-style bias…
GREGORY: (cont.) “And then days later, after Ambassador Rice is on this program and other programs, the president’s spokesman Jay Carney says this. “It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.” Well, if it was self-evident, then why didn’t the president come out and called this exactly what it was, an act of terror on the anniversary of 9/11?”
Well, Mr. Gregory, President Obama had this to say on September 12, 2012…
“No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.”
Maybe David Gregory was too busy sipping tea with the Romney crowd to pay attention to what our President actually said the day after America was attacked. I know the people at Fox News have selective hearing and miss things that don’t fit with their narrative, but the once great Meet the Press used to pride itself on getting things right. I guess it is just a different kind of “right” these days.
David Plouffe responded to the loaded question and touched on some of the points embedded in it. I’m sure that he wanted to hit them all, but David Gregory had to interrupt Mr. Plouffe in his confrontational style.
Question 2 (more of a follow up)
As David Plouffe is explaining to the rabid host how forthcoming the Obama administration was as new information came to light, Gregory interrupts with this…
GREGORY: No, but there’s also the question about whether you call this what it is on the day that it happens. Jay Carney said it was self-evident that this was a terrorist attack. These are people who came to a demonstration with weapons and security was an issue at the compound. Why not call it what it was?
I sensed that David Gregory wasn’t liking the fact that Plouffe was spelling out the reality of how these things work because like a petulant little child he responded, “No, but there’s also….” in a combative way, once again showing his bias and agenda with his line of questioning.
As you read above, President Obama referred to the tragedy as an “act of terror” the day after it happened. So the entire basis of Gregory’s question is bogus. Once again, I wonder if he actually saw the President’s words about the tragedy or if he is just reading from Republican talking points. I expect that sort of thing from Fox News anchors, but generally not from network anchors.
If you look at what Gregory says, “there’s also the question about whether you call this what it is on the day that it happens”, you have to ask yourself if “knee-jerk” is the new intelligence for Mr. Gregory and Republicans. Is this a new standard for all presidents or just this one? Throughout the whole process, the Obama administration has been deliberate, honest, and open about what they know as they find it out. I shouldn’t be surprised that Gregory and the GOP don’t know how to act when an administration is forthright with the American people. If you look back at the last Republican administration, they clearly decided first and then bent the facts to justify it. Do WMD’s ring a bell?
This next question was caught and tore apart by several people in the media and it was one of the more blatant falsehoods that David Gregory injected into his questions this past Sunday.
“GREGORY: The president has said as recently as May of this year that al Qaeda has not had a chance to rebuild, that al Qaeda has been defeated…”
Here’s what President Obama actually said:
And one year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The goal that I set — to defeat al Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild — is now within our reach.
Still, there will be difficult days ahead. The enormous sacrifices of our men and women are not over.
So David Gregory claims Obama did an al Qaeda victory dance, when Obama totally didn’t.
President Obama clearly said that al Qaeda’s defeat is “within our reach” and “[T]here are difficult days ahead.” So yeah, like the opposite of saying al Qaeda is defeated.
The rest of David Gregory’s question…
“…There is an election on, as we’ve been talking about, and the president’s challenger said plain and simple, the president failed to level with the American people and call this a terrorist attack, because you had to be concerned about another terrorist attack from al Qaeda in the Middle East after the president said that al Qaeda had been defeated.”
David Gregory repeats the lie about the President saying that al Qaeda was defeated and then takes up the twisted reasoning of the Romney boneheads that the President didn’t call it a terrorist attack because then he would be contradicting himself with something he never said. It all gets so stupid when trying to follow wingnut logic, but sometimes you just have to get down in the trench of stupidity and sort it out for them.
David Plouffe’s response was spot on…
MR. PLOUFFE: That is preposterous and really offensive to suggest that. As information was received from the intelligence community, it was distributed. This president’s record on terrorism takes a backseat to no one. We obviously took out their number one leader in Osama bin Laden, the leadership of al Qaeda has been decimated just as the president promised in 2008. And by the way, in 2008, the president said he would go into Pakistan to go after Osama bin Laden. Governor Romney said he wouldn’t. Governor Romney said it was tragic that we entered the Iraq war. One of the reasons that al Qaeda strengthened during the last decade is our focus was too much on Iraq. So we are happy to have this debate and we’ll have it obviously for the duration of this campaign…
You can see from the ellipsis that Gregory interrupted Mr. Plouffe with this injection of yet another Republican talking point…
GREGORY: Was this an intelligent– intelligence failure?
Now you can’t tell from the abrupt question what exactly “this” is to David Gregory. You would assume that he was talking about the “contradictions” that he had just spent many minutes belaboring, but it may have been in reference to the intelligence leading up to the attack, which is yet another “blame the President” meme that the right has been trotting out. Once again, is there a new standard where it’s alright to blame our country, our leader, when America is attacked. Can you imagine David Gregory asking these sorts of questions of say, Karl Rove, immediately after 9/11? The fainting couches would have crumbled from the weight of all the faux right-wing patriots falling on them.
GREGORY: As you know, the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee has called for Susan Rice to resign. Does the president have a hundred percent confidence in Susan Rice?
The Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee is, of course, Rep. Peter King of New York. He’s a freakin nut, do I need to say more?
GREGORY: What about the broader point here? Security is so bad in Benghazi that the FBI can’t even go in and investigate. What about the fact that there are talk of military options to find Ambassador Stevens’ killers? What is America doing to work its will to change the trajectory in Libya?
The assumptions behind these odd questions are open to interpretation. Yes, security is bad in Libya, tell us something we don’t know. And yes, there is talk of everything being on the table in response to the attack on our embassy. But what the hell is Gregory implying with “[W]hat is America doing to ‘work its will’ to change the trajectory in Libya?” That to me is just a Palinesque word salad question. Is America really trying to “work its will” in Libya or doing what our diplomats have been saying, supporting fledgling democracies as they fight for self governance. Working our “will” on other countries is a Bush/Cheney era thing which obviously informs David Gregory’s questioning.
GREGORY: Was it inappropriate for him to go to a fund-raiser the day after this attack now in retrospect knowing that it was a– a terrorist attack, the– inappropriate for him to engage in politics as usual?
There was no fundraiser in Las Vegas the day after the Libyan attacks. You wouldn’t know that if you relied on Republicans like David Gregory and the Breitbart people, who have been pushing that lie. I looked into the President’s published schedule and many reports about his trip and there was no fundraiser.
I remembered seeing Jon Ralston, the host of Ralston Reports, a statewide television show in Nevada, say as much on my television. I was having trouble tracking that clip down, so I emailed Jon and this was his response.
There was no fundraiser. He spoke briefly to a rally and then left.
But David Gregory decided to parrot the right-wing nuts who have been pushing that lie to the world. I’m a little disappointed that David Plouffe let that one slide by, but I can imagine when so much shit is being hurled at you, you have to pick your battles and respond in a way that gets the message out.
This next one is another of the Romney campaign’s lame-ass attempts to try to undercut President Obama’s huge successes in foreign policy. David Gregory does a great job of getting in all the faux facts of this Republican attack….isn’t it hard to view David Gregory as anything other than a paid shill for the Republicans? Gregory is responding to David Plouffe’s answer that said the President is on the job 24/7.
GREGORY: 24/7, but apparently not during U.N. meetings as The New York Post highlighted here, the question about whether there was a snub not meeting with the Israeli leader, the president is on The View, this is U.N. world leaders to gab with the gals of The View that was the headline in The New York Post with their own point of view there. But is this– is he– is he not performing all the critical role of– of the presidency, particularly with the foreign policy crisis? With so many questions about management of the Middle East, when you have a key United Nations gathering, not to meet with world leaders, including Netanyahu at a time of so much concern over Iran?
Gregory’s first sentence, “24/7, but apparently not during U.N. meetings as The New York Post highlighted here…”, once again shows his right-wing perspective. He was argumentative towards Plouffe and then goes on to sprinkle in the buzz words Republicans love so much, including “snub..Israeli leader”, “on the View”, “foreign policy crisis” and he ends it with the right-wing’s next war of profit, Iran.
I think the Republicans were really pissed that President Obama didn’t meet with several leaders at the U.N. because they probably had a whole batch of lies at the ready to throw out to the gullible, lemming media. Personally, I don’t care what reasons the President had for not doing a bunch of meetings around that time, that’s his decision. When David Gregory is president, then he can decide who he meets with and when. Until then, the guy who actually got 65 million American votes will make that call.
This next question reveals that David Gregory is either stupid, a right-wing hack or what I’d put my money on, BOTH! David Plouffe responded to the previous question and at the end of his response, David Gregory’s next question followed…
…By the way, look at– let’s talk about Governor Romney’s response during this. You know, in the– in the hours as these attacks became known in Libya and the assaults on our embassy in Egypt, Mitt Romney throws out some half-baked statement. And I think that’s one of the reasons…
GREGORY: But the government– wait, but the United States government had to also disavow its own statement that came out of the embassy in Cairo that some might also call half-baked and had to be revised, did it not?
So once again, David Gregory interrupted his guest so he wouldn’t miss an opportunity to represent his Republican masters. He compares the embassy statement, which was sent out BEFORE there was any violence (in an attempt to prevent violence), with Romney’s knee-jerk statement that showed he didn’t understand the sequence of events. The two statements have no similarity, but it gave Gregory the opportunity to inject just one more Republican falsehood into the conversation. And it had that petulant child ring to it, “yeah, but they did it too, so nah!”
The final question I will examine from this “train wreck called journalism” that NBC broadcast for the world to see, brings out the class warrior in David Gregory. After playing a clip of President Obama, Gregory tees up a doozy of a question, proving yet again that he pays attention to his GOP handlers quite well. Try this one on for size.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: During campaign season, you always hear a lot about patriotism. Well, you know what, it’s time for a new economic patriotism–an economic patriotism rooted in the belief that growing our economy begins with a strong and thriving middle-class.
GREGORY: Invoking patriotism there, just trying to be clear, so raising taxes on wealthier Americans is the president considers that patriotic? I assume he also thinks sacrifice is patriotic. And yet he is not spending much time talking specifically about what he’d do, like how he would cut the Medicare program to make it solvent. Beyond the cuts that he’s talked about, and when Simpson-Bowles says he needs much more dramatic cuts. So framing this as patriotism, it’s about taxing the wealthy but not talking about where the American people should sacrifice?
Gregory bypasses the idea of a strong middle class and growing jobs at home and instead, goes right for the “taxing wealthier Americans” and then pivots quickly to sacrifices from people on Medicare. But he goes even further and pulls out the Simpson-Bowles line, but only focuses on the spending cut side of that Simpson-Bowles exercise in futility and ignores that the commission also called for increasing taxes on “wealthier Americans.” It is very similar to how the rest of the Republican party uses the Simpson-Bowles commission, plucking out what suits them and ignoring the rest.
David Gregory has been playing the role of conservative hack for quite a while by both representing the Republican agenda in his questioning, but also in his selection of guests and the panel of talking heads.
What makes David Gregory’s tactics so insidious is that he embeds so many falsehoods within his questions, that it’s impossible for his guests to respond to all of them. And when they do respond, he interrupts them if they begin to get a valid point across. With each new question, the process continues on, leaving a wasteland of bad information in its wake.
I’m thankful there are only a few more weeks left in the election so I can quit watching Meet the Press and spare myself the frustration of watching a once great show, a standard bearer for network news shows, slip down the drain.
Cross posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles
UPDATE: Check out Charlie Pierce’s post on the “Dancin Master” (David Gregory)
Whenever I hear anyone say “this is what the American people want”, I immediately discount what they have to say. “The American people” is made up of people of all sorts of different beliefs, liberal, conservative, moderate, libertarian, socialist, fascist, capitalist, communist…we have a myriad of opinions that can’t be boiled down to one question on a robo-poll. It is never accurate to generalize what America believes or wants because “America” is not monolithic in its thinking. At the health care summit we kept hearing the Republicans repeat that the American people don’t want this bill. This poll from Newsweek (and polls are the problem here) shows that when you explain the details of the plan, they do support it.
When asked about Obama’s plan (without being given any details about what the legislation includes), 49 percent opposed it and 40 percent were in favor. But after hearing key features of the legislation described, 48 percent supported the plan and 43 percent remained opposed.
Either way, it’s not a huge margin and no one should claim what the American people want based on it. If one were honest, they would say something like a “small plurality” of the American people prefer, but even that is really not honest since the margin of error for that particular poll is +/- 3.6 % which means it could be as much as a 7.2 % swing either way. Who knows what the American people want? Morning Joe Scarborough is the worst at using polls to try to beat up politicians and put pressure on them. Just this morning on “Press the Meat” with David Gregory, David had a run of questions that were all laced with “what the American people want” or “going against the will of the American people”…..which American people? All of them? Or just those 200 who answered the poll question you are using to make your gross generalization?
I also have a problem with populist governing, let’s take a poll and then decide how we want to proceed. Let’s take a complex, detailed problem with all sorts of minutia and ask the general public what they think about it. How fucking stupid is that? This phenomenon lays open the opportunity for misinformation campaigns, distortions, lobbyist money, all directed at swaying the public so when they take that slanted poll (see link in the next paragraph), they can get the results they want. It becomes a battle of propaganda, who can con the American people the best.
Polls are becoming weapons, just ask Vic Snyder who decided not to run after getting ambush polled by Janey Hamsher. The tactics used by the supposed progressive Jane Hamsher and her organization is just one example of how methodology by pollsters can have a huge influence on results. So once again, how useful is the information gleaned from polls considering all the ways the numbers can be influenced or interpreted? It’s crap.
Now when it comes to election polls, as you get closer to an election the results start to get more accurate when done by reputable organizations with sound methodology. You always have the partisan polling groups on either extreme, but these serve more to try to sway public opinion using the “bandwagon” effect. They try to swing momentum one way or another by upsetting the ongoing narrative. So I guess polls serve a purpose as we get closer to election day, but really to the extent that they do sway opinion, it isn’t a good thing. Shouldn’t people vote for their candidate based on issues and leadership, not because it’s all the rage.