Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tom Brokaw, presidential debate moderator

Tuesday night's presidential debate moderator will be Tom Brokaw, former NBC anchorman, who now hosts NBC's Meet the Press. After watching his show for the first time on Sunday, I am not about to vouch for Brokaw's impartiality.

I was shocked -- shocked I tell you -- by Brokaw's concluding remark on Sunday. I planned to track down his quip and do a post on it prior to the debate. But first I had to find the quote. I looked up the transcript for the 5 October show on the NBC website. It's there -- the transcript, that is.

However, the last page of the published transcript of the show does not contain the concluding remark that I recalled, having watched the show.

I eventually tracked down the remark I remembered hearing. It had been quoted and discussed by Tod Gitlin in an article entitled "In which Tom Brokaw goes foxy" posted on the Columbia Journalism Review website. Gitlin writes:
Brokaw closed with this: “Isn’t it also time for these candidates to…say to the American people, ‘You’ve got a role in this, too. You’ve got to step up.’ We’re not going to make gain without some pain here in the next year, and, in fact, the American people have been part of the problem that we have right now. A lot of them took loans that they should—ought not to have taken. Credit card debt is very high. And they want to turn a blind eye to things like entitlements, Medicare and how we’re going to pay for it.”
Say to the American people? How about say to Wall Street? WTF? Has Brokaw been sleeping the past two weeks? The government just passed a bail-out package that was incredibly favorable to the Street, and did relatively little to help those Americans losing homes to mortgage foreclosures. The American people have just bailed out the banks and Brokaw is talking about the need for the candidates to lecture the people? When I heard that, I thought Brokaw had lost his mind.

Todd Gitlin commented: "But as for Brokaw’s parting statement, it reflected a largely Republican view of the world, camouflaged as a tribute to fairness and balance." Well said.

Incidentally, Brokaw said something else rather strange on Meet the Press Sunday. It was a comment I had missed. But a Crooks and Liars reader picked up on it.

I will be live-blogging the Tuesday debate.

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