Is David Gregory Afraid or Arrogant Beyond Belief?
David Gregory, the host of NBC’s Meet the Press, has painted himself into a strange corner with his assertion that there’s no need to fact check what his guests say on the air because viewers can do that “on their own terms.” His competitor, Jake Tapper of ABC News, disagrees. Tapper has instituted the after-the-show fact check on This Week. I am a participant in the story of how this happened, as you can see from the time line I have constructed. At the bottom of the post, I offer a brief comment on what I think is going on here.
Interpretation: So… what is going on here? As with his defiant claims that the press did well in questioning the Bush Administration’s case for war, David Gregory believes he always and already asks the questions necessary to get at the truth. (So what’s your problem?) If the truth does not emerge from his interviews, it’s not his fault because he–always and already–asks the tough questions. That’s who he is. It’s in his DNA. The criticism he gets is therefore partisan chatter. Or it comes from people who want him to go beyond asking the tough questions to the point of conclusion: that man is lying.
David Gregory thinks that is not his role.
Look at it this way: the Washington politician who’s been on Meet the Press more than any other is John McCain. On April 6, Politifact’s truth-o-meter rated McCain a pants-on-fire-liar for claiming that he never called himself a maverick. See what I mean?
I see two other possibilities for his refusal to adopt the fact check: one banal, the other more troubling. The banal: He’s too proud to adopt something that a competitor picked up on first; it would look like a “me too” response and he is the market leader, first in the ratings and heir to the chair that Tim Russert held. The more disturbing possibility is that he thinks Tapper’s policy may give Meet the Press a competitive edge in booking guests who won’t want to be checked so vigorously. (As opposed to competing with an even better fact check, which would probably cause Bob Schieffer at Face the Nation to adopt the same policy, forcing the guests to accept the new rules or flee to cable, which has a fraction of the viewers.)
Well, at least Jake Trapper has the guts to make this innovative move so kudos to him and to the people who in turn have the guts to go on his show. What we may learn in the end, if Meet the Press and Face the Nation refuse this challenge, is just exactly who the wimp politicians are who tell such tall tales that they afraid to face Trapper and PolitiFact and to appear on This Week.