David Gregory sinks to new low in Sanford affair to finally win the Media Putz
Originally published on MediaPutz.com on July 23, 2009
The aftermath of journalists — and Stephen Colbert — sucking up to South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford showed us that we have come a long way since the now-famous Dan Rather-Richard Nixon confrontation of March 19, 1974.
Q. Thank you, Mr. President. Dan Rather, with CBS News. [Sustained audience reaction] Mr. President — Mr. President
THE PRESIDENT. Are you running for something? [Laughter]
Q. No, sir, Mr. President; are you? [Laughter]
Somehow, even in the sea of faux journalism in the Sanford affair, one popped up as the lead swimmer — David Gregory, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The people who were probably the happiest that Gregory got the job (besides the Republican Party and its most prominent members) were Roger Mudd, Marvin Kalb, Chris Wallace, and Garrick Utley — pre-Russert hosts of the show — guaranteeing them that they would never again be called the worst host in the history of the show.
Let’s get to the juicy stuff. Here is the e-mail quote from Gregory that shows his “concern” for journalistic integrity.
Look, you guys have a lot of pitches .. I get it and I know this is a tough situation … Let me just say this is the place to have a wider conversation with some context about not just the personal but also the future for him and the party … This situation only exacerbates the issue of how the GOP recovers when another national leader suffers a setback like this. So coming on Meet The Press allows you to frame the conversation how you really want to…and then move on. You can see (sic) you have done your interview and then move on. Consider it.
This is modern-day TV journalism in action: Treating the hypocritical governor of South Carolina, and a reported serious presidential contender in 2012, in the same manner as trying to get an interview with Michael Jackson’s doctor. The excuse is that “they’re all celebrities, and we have to defer to them to get them on our show.”
Uh, no. You don’t get a legitimate interview if you don’t treat your subject on equal footing. Gregory was so bowed down that he could tell you every detail of Sanford’s shoes.
Most of the reports have focused on the “frame the conversation how you really want to” element. Very disturbing in itself. But consider the gem just before that part:
This situation only exacerbates the issue of how the GOP recovers when another national leader suffers a setback like this.
David Gregory can’t be concerned with the health of the Republican Party and be a journalist. After all, real journalists aren’t supposed to pick sides.
To be fair to Gregory — he offered a clarification in his remarks. But even his clarification carries this timeless classic.
I meant my forum allows him to have the time to discuss the situation in a fullsome way, to say what he wants and move on.
In other words, Sanford would be the bull and Gregory would stand downwind, holding a red cape. Olé.
But anyone who has watched Gregory handle the legacy of “Meet the Press” shouldn’t be surprised by the language in the e-mails.
One such recent example had Gregory expressing outrage of the Nico Pitney incident where he asked President Obama a question from an Iranian. As Gregory was badgering David Axelrod, he exclaimed:
“If President Bush had done that, don’t you think Democrats would have said that’s outrageous?”
Does Jeff Gannon count? Because we’re pretty sure Jeff Gannon counts. Considering that David Gregory was literally in the same room with Gannon much of that time, that small detail seems all the more disturbing that he would “forget” that part.
After all, this is the man who was dancing with “MC Rove,” and built his reputation in “covering” George W. Bush for most of eight years.
In Gregory’s own words on what the Bush press corps was supposed to do:
“I think there are a lot of critics who think that . . . . if we did not stand up and say this is bogus, and you’re a liar, and why are you doing this, that we didn’t do our job. I respectfully disagree. It’s not our role.”
Dan Rather reportedly said of Richard Nixon: “I strongly believe that in our system no citizen has to face any leader on bended knee.”
David Gregory wouldn’t face any Republican leader without being on bended knee, and so he wins the Media Putz award.