"Meet the Press" Should Stick to the Issues

NBC's "Meet the Press" continues to be a commendable venue to catch up on the week's news. The show lands notable guests and occasionally host David Gregory gets a politico to break some news, such as when Newt Gingrich knocked fellow Republican Paul Ryan's Medicare-cutting plans a week ago.

Yet, it is curious why Gregory continues to ask just about any guest who could run for President whether he or she will. It does his reputation as an interviewer no favors. Frankly, it lowers it, while moving him away from serious policy discussion and into the superficiality of the cable-type infatuation with politics.

Yes, it would be marvelous for Gregory if out of the blue, say, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came on and said: "David, thank you so much for asking. No one else has inquired whether I'll run. I am absolutely running in 2012. Was going to announce tomorrow. But am doing so right now instead."

"Meet the Press" would then be on the front page of every Web site -- much less the morning paper -- and it would be a coup.



 It's just not going to happen. No candidate is going to forgo a news conference in a swing state, a mass email to supporters or even a YouTube video as the preferred way to say all systems go. All of those methods have potentially far greater reach than "Meet the Press" in today's world anyway.

Yet, there Gregory was on Sunday asking Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman, whether he would enter the White House race. Ryan responded with an answer that was so unremarkable it was laughable.

Essentially: no, I'm focused on the budget debate in Congress.

Ryan actually was on the show to speak about entitlement reform and other weighty subjects. So, if Gregory felt the need to ask about any Presidential ambitions, Ryun's no answer would seem to have been satisfactory.

Not to Gregory. He wanted to box him in even more and asked again if there was any scenario that he would run. And if not, would he consider being a vice presidential candidate (which would not happen until July 2012)? 

"Look, I'm not going to get into all those hypotheticals," Ryan said. "I'm not running for president. I'm not planning on running for president. If you're running for president, you've got to do a lot of things to line up a candidacy. I've not done any of those things."

Seems pretty iron clad.

But no. Gregory followed up and asked his a third time. Basically, you said no, but not never ever. What if someone offered the equivalent his or her first born. Would you even be tempted?

"There's a little bit of door opening there, though," Gregory said. "The door's a bit ajar. And you know how this works."

Ryan responded as he should have in this ludicrous wrestling match, saying who knows "what opportunities present themselves way down the road." 

Then, the substantive discussion began on like whether Americans will have health care when they turn even 65.

The Ryan appearance on "Meet the Press" followed an even worse example of the would-be "Gregory get" on May 8 when ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was on speaking about how the capture of Bin Laden. There was a question about how it would affect the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, and then an emotional discussion about how the death of Bin Laden impacted the firefighters and others in New York who lost colleagues on 9/11. Some of the firefighters had lunch with President Obama and Giuliani.

"I think they felt a burden lifted from them. Hard for them to describe. I mean it doesn't bring back our loved ones ...," Giuliani said. "So I think these men, these firefighters and police officers that (President Obama) met with are men who exercise bravery every day in their lives. I think they admire that in the President." 

What did Gregory do next: "Does it impact at all, Mayor Giuliani, your thinking about running for President next year?"

Horrible timing, exceedingly inappropriate. Mixing in Presidential politics with 9/11 and lost loved ones? Huh?

Giuliani offered praise for the work of both presidents Bush and Obama and said the capture was "a great achievement for both ... both political parties."

Gregory would not give in. "And you're still considering a run for the Presidency?"

Shocker: Giuliani did not say, "David, yes. Obama captured the most hated man in New York and now it's time for me to show I could not only have done that, but flat-out obliterated the whole Taliban. I'm in."

Giuliani said appropriately" "Not right this minute. But yes, I am."

It would have been nice if Giuliani had not even said "yes" since that in Gregory's mind may have validated his infelicitous line of questioning.

In fairness to Gregory, though, his "Meet the Press" predecessor Tim Russert did get Obama as a Senator in October 2006 to say he was thinking about running for President.

Yet, the bet is viewers would prefer Gregory steer away from the largely futile questioning and if not, maybe just ask once. After all, the media complains when candidates don't stick to the issues.

4 comments about ""Meet the Press" Should Stick to the Issues".
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  1. Cary Miller from Consultant, May 23, 2011 at 2:27 p.m.

    Hey Dave -

    David Gregory is not the only one hung up on RUNning.

    The representative from Wisconsin is Paul RyAN not Paul RyUN.

    Like you, I also think Mr. Gregory should back off a bit as well.

  2. Dan Ciccone from Tribal Fusion, May 23, 2011 at 2:33 p.m.

    As a long-standing fan of the program, Gregory had some pretty big shoes to fill as Russert did a phenomenal job of remaining impartial and pushing politicans on issues. Gregory did a very good job at filling those shoes initially; however, his insistence on "boxing in" guests by insisting they answer his ridiculous "yes or no" questions without offering them the opportunity to provide a detailed answer has become nauseating. It's a slap to everyone's face in his audience when he waters down very dynamic and contentious issues facing this country by springing unrelated topics on his guests and attempting to get them to answer "yes or no."

    Or perhaps he'll just follow the path of Chris Matthews who has decided that yelling over his guests somehow validates his views more than those of his guest(s).

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, May 23, 2011 at 6:16 p.m.

    In what part does NBC play? Or somebody at NBC play to push ?

  4. Joe Jacobs, May 24, 2011 at 10:36 a.m.

    Personally speaking, I dislike those kinds of questions when a substantive issue is being discussed. Asking someone about hypotheticals is like asking me what I'm going to do with my Lottery winnings... if I win.

    However comma I have noticed that a person's answers to questions change when they become a candidate for a larger office than Senator or Representative or Governor.

    So, Mr. Gregory... ask them once - and move on.

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