This is a story about a man named David Gregory. At one point in his career, he actually could be considered a reasonable journalist. And then something happened. Something so horrific, that I hesitate to display it, but it is critical to the story. Please note, this is NSFW!!!
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, David Gregory threw away any integrity that remained in his bones for the almighty drug in DC, ACCESS!!! And he was rewarded for his decision by the GE higher ups. He was given a platform to ensure that he maintained his access for the foreseeable future. He is now the host of Meet The Press. Today, Gregory's biases were put on display for all to see.
Follow me over the jump to see the definition of a shill in action.
A shill is an associate of a person selling goods or services or a political group, who pretends no association to the seller/group and assumes the air of an enthusiastic customer. The intention of the shill is, using crowd psychology, to encourage others unaware of the set-up to purchase said goods or services or support the political group's ideological claims. Shills are often employed by confidence artists. The term plant is also used.
"Shill" can also be used pejoratively to describe a critic who appears either all-too-eager to heap glowing praise upon mediocre offerings, or who acts as an apologist for glaring flaws. In this sense, they would be an implicit "shill" for the industry at large, possibly because their income is tied to its prosperity.
Since David Gregory's promotion, the show has been unwatchable. This is not hyperbole. He has thrown any sense of objectivity out the door, in an effort to attempt to get his team back in office, because that is when his ACCESS will be back at its peak. And maybe, maybe, if he is nice, he can get that next promotion.
I don't usually watch MTP. As a matter of fact, I have removed it from my DVR. But I was driving today, and happened to hear the first 20 minutes of the show. To be honest with you, I almost had to pull over because I felt sick to my stomach after listening to what David Gregory's has done to this once cherished franchise.
I will not even waste time to go over John McCain's ridiculous responses unless I need to include it make a point about Gregory. The purpose of the diary is to show how Gregory has lost all touch with his journalistic ethics. I could say he is afraid of Chris Wallace, but that would be unfair to Chris Wallace as he at least has some shame, and you generally know where he is coming from. Gregory on the other hand, pretends to be unbiased, while being the worst actor in the history of Sunday Morning television.
If you don't believe me, I give you exhibit A. David Gregory's July 12 questions to Sen. John McCain with commentary.
MR. GREGORY: I'd like to--always happy to have you here. I want to start with some breaking news this morning. The front story in The New York Times is that former Vice President Dick Cheney kept Congress in the dark, his orders to keep Congress in the dark about a covert CIA program. It's a program that CIA Director Panetta has now shut down. He's briefed Congress about it. What do you know about this and what's your reaction to it?
Not a bad start. Maybe Gregory has turned over a new leaf. Straight forward facts followed by a request for comment.
SEN. McCAIN: Well, uncharacteristically, not a lot. I, I am not on the Intelligence Committee. I don't know what the details of this are. The vice president, I think, should obviously be heard from if the accusations are leveled in his direction. Clearly the Republicans did not sign a letter, apparently, that was written alleging this, so I, I think it's, frankly, too early for me to reach any conclusion.
MR. GREGORY: It doesn't appear as if any lines were crossed, in your judgment?
And two questions in...we hit pay dirt. This is not even sly. Gregory makes a judgement statement, and then requests his John McCain's affirmation. I defy you to find where John McCain made a judgment in the previous comment, ANYWHERE. Go ahead. Read it again. You won't find it. As a matter of fact, he says "it's too early for me to reach any conclusion". In fairness to McCain, here was his response.
SEN. McCAIN: I don't know because, again, a lot of this is anonymous sources.
MR. GREGORY: Hm.
Hm..indeed. My friends, to coin a phrase, that is called projection. Gregory wanted McCain to reach that conclusion, but he wouldn't so he decided to insert his own opinion into what is supposed to be at the least a neutral interview, and one could argue adversarial if it were to follow MTP traditions.
The affliction that causes national political commentators to project their own perceptions onto the public-- let's call it Pundit Projection Syndrome--is affecting David Gregory's ability to come to grips with the fact that the public just wasn't as into John McCain's and Sarah Palin's debate performances as he was. Last night on his MSNBC show, Race for the White House With David Gregory (10/6/08), the anchor demonstrated his confusion in a discussion with liberal-leaning pundit Laurence O'Donnell:
GREGORY: Yes. Lawrence, let me show you another number here, which pertains to the debates in particular. Which ticket is doing better in these debates, Obama/Biden 50 percent, McCain/Palin 29 percent. What surprises me about that is that I think both of these debates have highlighted pretty strong performances by both McCain and Palin. You can argue who won on points, certainly. But in both of those debates, they were strong performances. This polling doesn't bear that out at all.
Luckily, O'Donnell was able to talk Gregory down by injecting some needed reality:
There's no polling that bears that out, David. The polling we had that night from CBS and from CNN all indicated that Biden had a very big win, like giant margins over Sarah Palin, and that Obama, to all of our surprise, had a very significant win over McCain on the foreign policy debate, which was supposed to be the McCain winning debate issue.
You see...polls don't matter. Only what David Gregory, journalist extraordinaire thinks matters. Do you think the interview gets better? I will give you three guesses and the first two don't count.
MR. GREGORY: Should there be an investigation, do you think?
MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.
MR. GREGORY: Speaking about investigations, there's now word from Newsweek magazine today with a story about the attorney general, that he's getting closer to investigating alleged torture during the Bush administration. This is the reporting from Daniel Klaidman, that Holder "may be on the verge of asserting his independence in a profound way. Four sources telling Newsweek that he's now leaning towards appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices." Would that be a good idea?
Would that be a good idea? I will give David the benefit of the doubt. This can be a fair question. But there are certainly better ways to illicit McCain's opinion than asking "is that a good idea"? What does he think McCain is going to say. Yes David, let's investigate the entire Bush Administration. Arggh...
MR. GREGORY: But where's the accountability?
Back on track...but not for long...
MR. GREGORY: Let me turn to politics. You must have been shocked to see Governor Sarah Palin resign as governor.
MR. GREGORY: But you say you were surprised a little bit. Why?
MR. GREGORY: What were they?
MR. GREGORY: But, but, but, Senator, you have a reputation...
MR. GREGORY: ...of personal and professional toughness and stick-to-itiveness.
I told you it wouldn't last for long.
"And you should be President sir?...and can I ask, why don't you have your hand on my inner thigh Senator? I thought that was proper protocol?"
Jeez...get a room David.
All joking aside. Not only is Gregory trying to lead McCain into an answer, he decides to give McCain 2010 Senate run a plug. Does anyone think Gregory even thought twice about inserting his opinion here. Not a chance.
MR. GREGORY: You sought the highest role in the land, president of the United States.
MR. GREGORY: You never quit.
MAKE IT STOP!!!
MR. GREGORY: She made a promise to the voters to serve out her term, didn't she?
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. GREGORY: But, Senator McCain, you have faced personal torture, personal attacks, political attacks, investigations. You have never resigned from anything. Is it consistent with your qualities of leadership to resign an elected post like this?
MR. GREGORY: It is consistent?
Look David, if you want to be McCain's campaign manager, quit your day job. Otherwise, can you please get back to acting like a journalist. Is that too much to ask?
MR. GREGORY: You think she's qualified to seek the high, highest office in the land?
MR. GREGORY: She is qualified?
MR. GREGORY: No doubt about it.
MR. GREGORY: And if she, if she seeks the presidency in 2012, you would endorse her?
SEN. McCAIN: Oh, I--look, I think it's way too early for that kind of thing, because she obviously has not made that decision yet. And traditionally, those of us who were the nominees have waited at least a period, a long period of time before we got into that. But we've got a lot of good, strong, young, attractive, articulate spokespersons for our party and our principles.
MR. GREGORY: But can you understand how people would think it's a little bit strange? You vouched for her in front of the country.
Well....back to a reasonable question. But you ain't fooling me David. As a matter of fact, this is basically the Republican line at this point so it is good to help his friend to get this out of the way.
MR. GREGORY: Said she was qualified for the highest position in the land.
MR. GREGORY: And yet you're not prepared to endorse her now?
MR. GREGORY: Do you think she'll run?
MR. GREGORY: One more on this.
blah blah blah...
MR. GREGORY: Your trusted adviser for many years, Mike Murphy, wrote this week something very pointed. He writes that "Governor Sarah Palin is the political train wreck that keeps on giving. First, she was an awful choice," he wrote, "last year as John McCain's running mate. ... An inexperienced governor of a small state, she lacked the experience to be president and brought nothing to the ticket except a surefire knack for exciting voters who were already reliably Republican. It was a strategically awful choice." Knowing everything you know now, you would pick her again?
MR. GREGORY: Is she a...
MR. GREGORY: Is she ahead of the pack in terms of leaders of this party, going forward?
How many times do you want McCain to repeat himself. Maybe he knew he didn't have any other adversarial questions in his arsenal, so this was just a bit of kabuki. Because ladies and gentlemen, we are now entering the Pièce de résistance of the interview!!! If you are the chairman of the RNC that is...
MR. GREGORY: Right, right. Remember well. And you, and you came back.
Let me switch gears a little bit, talk about the president of the United States currently, and that's Barack Obama, and his performance. Look at the recent poll numbers that came out, and it shows declining support. His approval rating now 58 percent; back in January it was a 66 percent. What's your assessment of how he's performing?
Of course no context, just the fact the his numbers are declining. Typical.
MR. GREGORY: The president says be patient. How much more patience do you have?
Ask me that question about you Mr. Gregory. Because my patience is running out.
MR. GREGORY: But 40 percent...
MR. GREGORY: ...of this stimulus package included tax cuts.
MR. GREGORY: Here's what his top economics adviser said this week, Larry Summers, to The New York Times: "People know that problems of this seriousness cannot be turned around in six months or nine months," Mr. Summers said. "One of the president's strengths in his extraordinary candor--is his extraordinary candor. The president has been honest with the American people about the enormity of the challenge and the amount of time it will take to turn things around." Then the president yesterday in his radio address said, "This Recovery Act has worked as intended." Is he leveling with the American people?
WTF? What do you want him to say? Is he leveling?
SEN. McCAIN: Well, I'm, I'm sure the president is doing everything that he can to try to help their--this economy.
MR. GREGORY: But is he leveling? Is he being straight?
And this is where I wanted to jump through the radio. He just answered you ridiculous question, but you didn't get the answer you want. Why don't you just come out and say what your opinion is Mr. Gregory. This isn't a game of password. If you heard his tone, it was pretty obvious Gregory was fishing for an answer. At this point, I just turned the radio off. I couldn't take the shilling anymore.
Here are the rest of the questions to McCain for fairness.
MR. GREGORY: Could you support a second stimulus plan if it comes, comes down?
MR. GREGORY: You mentioned healthcare reform. This is what the president said back in March. He said, "Look, this is critical to the overall financial health of the country." Listen.
(Videotape, March 5, 2009)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA: If we want to create jobs and rebuild our economy and get our federal budget under control, then we have to address the crushing costs of health care this year.
MR. GREGORY: Do you agree?
MR. GREGORY: Are you prepared to support what the administration's proposing on health care?
MR. GREGORY: Congressional Budget Office.
MR. GREGORY: The House says--House Democrats say we need to raise taxes, a tax surcharge in order to pay for this. Does that kill this effort?
MR. GREGORY: A couple of foreign policy notes. Look at this striking statistic out of Afghanistan, released this week. The number of roadside bomb incidents; these are the ones that were successful, that hurt or killed people. Back in June of '07, 24; June of 2009, up to 82. That's got to trouble you.
MR. GREGORY: Is that the risk of this administration now?
MR. GREGORY: You think we need more troops.
MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.
proved that time after time.
MR. GREGORY: In terms of Iran, the president says by September they abandon the program or get into negotiations, or face consequences. What does this administration have to do now to get that changed, to get them to abandon a nuclear program?
MR. GREGORY: Before you go, are you prepared to support Sonia Sotomayor to be on the Supreme Court?
MR. GREGORY: All right. Senator McCain, thank you, as always.
MR. GREGORY: Appreciate it.
Remember, this is the same guy that thinks the press did its job in the run up to the Iraq War.
Critique from the guy that asked this bold question and follow up in his last opportunity to question the President before the war.
Q Mr. President, good evening. If you order war, can any military operation be considered a success if the United States does not capture Saddam Hussein, as you once said, dead or alive?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I hope we don’t have to go to war, but if we go to war, we will disarm Iraq. And if we go to war, there will be a regime change. And replacing this cancer inside of Iraq will be a government that represents the rights of all the people, a government which represents the voices of the Shia and Sunni and the Kurds.
We care about the suffering of the Iraqi people. I mentioned in my opening comments that there’s a lot of food ready to go in. There’s something like 55,000 oil-for-food distribution points in Iraq. We know where they are. We fully intend to make sure that they’re — got ample food. We know where their hospitals are; we want to make sure they’ve got ample medical supplies. The life of the Iraqi citizen is going to dramatically improve.
Q Sir, I’m sorry, is success contingent upon capturing or killing Saddam Hussein, in your mind?
THE PRESIDENT: We will be changing the regime of Iraq, for the good of the Iraqi people.
Maybe one day, NBC will find someone who is willing to actually interview their guests on Sunday mornings. But until then, I will not be watching the current version of Meet The Press imitating a real Sunday talk show.