Sunday’s NBC Meet the Press interview of the former president by new host, Kristen Welker, was failed journalism. No news was made, and there was no strong pushback or meaningful real-time fact-checking against a guest known for compulsive lying. Indeed, there seemed to be no point...other than to try to boost ratings for a new host.
The civic purpose formerly served by the "mainstream" press has faded. Here is a cultural touchstone to consider. Through the 1990s, there were "decades" -- the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s. They all had identities and a broad national “culture” in which if something was popular, it was popular nearly everywhere. Cultural touchstones were driven by mainstream and broadcast media to which we were all exposed, even if we had additional individual sources. Today, for example, radio stations talk about music from the "80s, 90s and today." What happened to the decades of the 00s, 10s, or 20s?
NBC’s Meet the Press and the Sunday shows used to be that kind of a national moment. For 16 years, Tim Russert grilled guests with real-time fact checking, clips at the ready to reveal guest dissembling with their own prior words. Now we have niche shows trying to get ratings and provide a clip that may go viral and enrage viewers. Meanwhile, fact-checkers are left to pick up the pieces in relative silence in the following hours and days.
As LDAD wrote at its formation, an independent and watchful mainstream media is an essential component of American democracy. Meet the Press, along with so many other news shows today, are contributing to our weakened democracy.