After the president's appearance on Meet the Press this morning, David Gregory sat down with what I am going to call the lazy pundit roundtable. During that roundtable, the pundits argued, with straight face, I kid you not, that the reason we don't have a deal on the Fiscal Cliff is because the big Republican babies in Congress haven't gotten enough warm and fuzzies. No joke.
MR. JON MEACHAM (Author, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power): ... But on the retail side, as-- as Tom says, all evidence suggests he has not been the warmest and fuzziest of cajolers. And you have to do both. And you can’t just be right on the idea. You do have to sell this.Watch:
Right, Congress is severely derelict on its duty because the President isn't giving them enough warm and fuzzies. Perhaps he should have invited over all 535 members of Congress on a cold DC night and shared a glass of warm milk and cookies with all of them. Then they would all hold hands with him and sing kum ba yah. FML, you know?
All of this got started when Mr. Gregory, the host, kicked off that portion of the discussion whining about the fact that the president's side seems to be holding the media accountable for their "it's both sides' fault" bullsh*t.
GREGORY: And one of the president’s top advisers is rather defensive on Twitter saying that it-- you know, it should bug every American because it’s lazy journalism and punditry and has a real effect on our political system. Well, here’s the reality that even his advisers have to understand. The American people, Republicans and Democrats, do look at results or the lack thereof. So, it’s not lazy punditry when people are out there very frustrated with both ends of this.No, Mr. Gregory. It's not lazy punditry to say that the American people are frustrated. What is lazy punditry is to say that the American people do, or should, blame the president and the Republicans equally. Poll after poll has shown that this media construction has fallen flat on its face as the American people have realized through past events (debt limit negotiations, health care, etc.) that the president has done more than his part to compromise; that it's the Republicans who have refused to cooperate.
MR. MEACHAM: Right. And I see the system as broken because as you say, it doesn’t produce a result, a desirable result.
GREGORY: Right. Being right is not enough, even if you’re the president.
MR. MEACHAM: Exactly. Exactly.
But that's not even that relevant to what the media is doing. As the press, it is your responsibility, Mr. Gregory, to educate the American people of the fact that the intransigence has come entirely from the Republican side.
MS. GOODWIN: But I think he finally has made a decision, perhaps, that the inside game didn’t work. He said that which…He never tried these? Really, Mr. Jon "Warm and Fuzzies" Meacham? This president has time and again included Republican ideas that he thought were good or workable ideas, and the Republicans ran from it. Need some reminders? How about these for starters?
MR. MEACHAM: But he has never tried these…
MS. GOODWIN: …means immobilize the outside game.
MR. TODD: But he has-- inability to try the inside game,
- The president's stimulus package included more than its share of tax cuts, including for small businesses, at the insistence of Republicans. Yet, the GOP voted en masse against it.
- As soon as this president embraced the idea of an individual responsibility provision in health reform, it suddenly became the Devil's spawn for the GOP. The idea was originally proposed in the 90s by the Heritage Foundation and Republican legislators.
- When the president agreed to six Republican senators' proposal to have a fiscal commission with the goal to cut the deficit - which would have the power to have its proposal voted up or down in Congress - all six of those Republican senators voted against its creation.
- Speaker Boehner walked away from a grand bargain during the debt ceiling negotiations when the president was willing to incorporate entitlement reform, as he has done now.
Your job, Mr. Gregory, Mr. Meacham and the rest of the press, is not to push a feel-good talking point. The reason our founders gave the press great freedoms was because they bestowed on our press the great responsibility. The great responsibility not to earn ratings, not to push beltway talking points, but the great responsibility to tell the truth. It's time you started doing your jobs. Long past time.
The problem with these media talking heads may well be past not acknowledging the great responsibility that comes with their great freedoms, however, They are simply, and galringly, out of touch with the American people. Just listen to Tom Brokaw's explanation of the "middle class".
MR. TOM BROKAW (NBC News): It’s at what level. Is it 400,000 dollars or 250,000 dollars or some other number, which is going to be critically important? A lot of people don’t realize in the large urban and suburban areas of America, 250,000 dollars doesn’t make you rich. You’ve got two kids in college at 60,000 dollars. If you’re a boomer, you may have a dependent parent of some kind. You’re spending another 20-25,000 dollars on. So we have to have the definition of what is the middle class.Dear Mr. Brokaw, only people in your talking point bubble think that people who can afford to fully pay for their kids' college tuition at $60,000 a piece and need no help paying to care for their elderly parent at $25,000 are "middle class." Most middle class families can't pay for their kids to go to private schools. Most middle class college kids need scholarships, Pell grants and student loans to pay for college. Most middle class families want to protect Social Security and Medicare because they need those programs to sustain their parents in their old age. A family making $250,000 a year is. Not. Middle. Class. Not by any stretch.
Washington is out of touch. But it isn't just because our Congresscritters are now elected from super-safe, gerrymandered districts. It's not just because Republicans refuse to learn the lessons from elections and cooperate with the president for the good of the country. It's also because we have opinion makers who are so out of touch that they think middle class families can afford to pay for their kids' private school education cash, out of pocket. Washington is out of touch because we have pundits sitting on the country's top rated and longest running "news" program opining that nothing is getting done on the Fiscal Cliff because the president hasn't coddled his political detractors enough, or hasn't given them enough warm and fuzzies.
It is not just the quality of our Congress that has deteriorated. It is the quality of our press, to whom our founders entrusted the great responsibility to tell the truth. That press is now corrupt, corporate, and plain lazy.