Meet the Press STILL Lets Guests “Control the Message”

picture-117.pngCathie Martin’s testimony of how she strategized a response to Joe Wilson’s July 6, 2003 op-ed was one of the most visibly discomfiting moments of the Scooter Libby trial for those in the media room. After all, Martin was revealing how easily the DC press allowed itself to be manipulated by those in power. Along with describing which reporters they were dealing which kinds of stories to and how reporters tended to be more compliant when you told them they were getting an exclusive, Martin explained that the White House controlled the message when Cheney went on Meet the Press.

Fitzgerald: Focusing on the language in the black where it says options, can you run down the four options and describe what they refer to in these notes and what you discussed with Mr. Libby?

Martin: Sure.  First note M.T.P., which is Meet The Press, dash VP.  So this was my discussion about possibly putting the Vice President on Meet The Press that Sunday to give a fuller discussion of the whole picture.

Fitzgerald: On the right you have another reference to M.T.P.  Can you describe what that is?

Martin: I think I walked, this is me walking through the pros and cons of putting the Vice President on Meet The Press. And I wrote underneath pros, best.  This is our best format, and he’s our best person on Meet The Press.  Two, we control the message a little bit more.  It was good for our — for us to be able to tell our story. [my emphasis]

TPMM has been wading through the latest document dump of Mark Sanford’s office’s emails released by the Charleston Post and Courier.  And they’ve discovered that David Gregory has continued the Meet the Press approach to letting guests control the message. 

But Gregory’s emails, in particular, make clear just what a get Sanford was seen as, and how far the networks were willing to go in promising a safe landing place for the governor.

Gregory’s first email to Sawyer was sent at 12:24 p.m. on Wednesday June 24 — that is, after Sanford had admitted to The State that he had actually been in Argentina, but before the famed stream-of-consciousness press conference where he admitted to an affair. Gregory wrote:

Hey Joel …

Left you a message. Wanted you to hear directly from me that I want to have the Gov on Sunday on Meet The Press. I think it’s exactly the right forum to answer the questions about his trip as well as giving him a platform to discuss the economy/stimulus and the future of the party. You know he will get a fair shake from me and coming on MTP puts all of this to rest.

Let’s talk when you can.

Gregory left two different phone numbers.

After the press conference, Sawyer replied:

David —

Thank you very much for taking the time to personally reach out to us. For the time being, we’re just going to let what the governor said today stand on its own. If we do some interviews in the future, I’ll let you know as soon as possible.

Gregory followed up quickly: "You aren’t doing anything at all this week…no other intvus anywhere?" Sawyer replied that they weren’t.

Gregory gave it one last shot:

Look, you guys have a lot of pitches .. I get it and I know this is a tough situation … Let me just say this is the place to have a wider conversation with some context about not just the personal but also the future for him and the party … This situation only exacerbates the issue of how the GOP recovers when another national leader suffers a setback like this. So coming on Meet The Press allows you to frame the conversation how you really want to…and then move on. You can see (sic) you have done your interview and then move on. Consider it. [my empahsis]

Sawyer did not respond.

Jeebus. At least Russert was allowing the Vice President to walk all over him. Gregory, apparently, allows small state Governors reeling from the exposure of their moral hypocrisy to do the same. 

  1. Teddy Partridge says:

    It’s too bad Russert didn’t live long enough to renounce his own reporting [sic] methods, because none of his proteges in the newsgathering [sic] business will ever challenge them. It’s as if, in death, Russert’s horrible standards became engraved in stone and will always be the Versailles Way.

  2. BoxTurtle says:

    In MTP’s defense, if they don’t let their guests control the message, the guest will simply go to another show that will. Plenty of newswhores out there.

    Boxturtle (I’m gonna guess that MTP is going to claim out of context, if they respond at all)

  3. bmaz says:

    I have yet to see a EW take on Luke Russert’s coverage of the shooting outside the White House the other day. What, are you slowing down?

  4. TarheelDem says:

    Gregory as White House correspondent gave assassins instruction on what part of the White House the Clinton’s residence was in as part of a piece on the plane that flew into the White House; I believe it was an intended attack by someone who had gone suicidal.

    I have never trusted him at all since then. Tool doesn’t even begin to cover it. His personal agenda is all out in the open.

  5. snaglepuss says:

    Interesting peek behind the scenes. MTP ratings are not what they used to be. Gregory might be suffering from job in jeopardy syndrome. While I suspect most of the NBC brass are republican sympathizers, nothing is more important than the bottom line.

  6. phred says:

    Next thing you know the Sunday Talking Heads will let even a small town mayor from the sticks of Alaska take them all for a ride. Oh. Wait a sec…

  7. Waccamaw says:

    You know he will get a fair shake from me and coming on MTP puts all of this to rest.

    Translation: *wink, wink* “I can make your troubles go away.”

    We knew gregory is a wh0re…he just clarified how much he thinks his services are worth.

  8. garlanddegreeff says:

    Thomas Jefferson once said that if he had to choose between a nation with government and no newspapers, or one with newspapers and no government, he’d always choose the latter. Jefferson, historically one of the harshest critics of newspapers, also said: “Where the press is free, and every man can read, all is safe.”.

    Journalism reached its peak, perhaps, during and just after Watergate. It’s safe to say that Nixon was brought down by the diligence of Woodward and Bernstein initially, and, then, a slew of other reporters from magazines and TV. They all competed to get the next scoop on the tragicomedy.

    Journalism, at that time, came closest to a full-fledged “profession,” as medicine and the law have always been regarded. I took journalism classes at the University of Minnesota and a main point of discussion was whether journalism had become a profession with a “code” to follow and with an association to reward and censor its participants.

    Somehow, that question of professionalism for gathering news is now nowhere on the radar. It has been shot out of the sky.

    The incipient code, which was stillborn sometime in the Reagan era, contained elements that included: objectivity; never failing to at least try to get both sides’ comments (even if it meant writing “Mr. Smith did not return several calls made to his office; quotes from a “common” person on the street on the subject matter. The press (newspapers, TV and radio) came oh-so-close to becoming a true Fourth Estate, contributing to knowledgable discussions among everyone from street vendors to CEOs about all local and national issues. Above all, it came close to giving a voice to the average person, which would have mean real power for the working stiff, which is just not the case in the United States these days.

    Jefferson’s philosophy in the United States was accompanied by legislation ensuring various degrees of freedom of publishing and the press. The depth to which these laws are entrenched go to the heart of our Constitution. The concept of freedom of speech is often covered by the same laws as freedom of the press, thereby giving equal treatment to media and individuals.

    [edited for length] (emasculation-blues)

      • ProgThis says:

        it’s only 6 small, flippin’ paragraphs. or do you have one of those browsers that doesn’t scroll?

    • marymccurnin says:

      never failing to at least try to get both sides’ comments

      This kind of thinking drives me nuts. both sides? How about all sides? Or the sides that are making sense. Or one side only just for fun. But this notion of two sides of every topic is just dumb.

  9. oregondave says:

    Hopefully, Walter Cronkite is deciding to reincarnate right away, and will be ready in about 20 years to salvage what’s left of TV “journalism.”

  10. JohnnyTable70 says:

    Gregory will never live down his MC Rove moment. IMO his bad dancing skills and lack of rhythm make Elaine from Seinfeld seem like Isadora Duncan.

  11. ThingsComeUndone says:

    And they’ve discovered that David Gregory has continued the Meet the Press approach to letting guests control the message.

    The Legacy of Pumpkinhead lives on

  12. ThingsComeUndone says:

    And the Networks wonder why they are losing people. Sooner or later the stockholders will notice.

  13. Twain says:

    Gregory is one of the most boring people on TV. His voice is annoying and he has no integrity at all. MTP is going down in a big way. People are starting to catch on that the news is not news.

  14. Petrocelli says:

    Okay now you’ve done it … you’ve invited the wrath of Tweety, Chuck Todd F*ck Wad and the 3 Amigos (Ed, Chip & Major) upon yourselves.

    • newtonusr says:

      The silence throughout the NBC collective in the coming days will be… striking. Bet you even KO and Rachel will let it slide, but you can bet that they would love to risk their jobs and take the little creep down.

      • Petrocelli says:

        Surely you don’t think The French Beard will take punches from Cheetoh-eatin’ bloggers and commenters without responding with a litany of idiocy and a bucket of spit ?

        • newtonusr says:

          The ugly about all this – The Washington Post pay-for-access scandal must have sent media types scurrying for their woodpiles. I am certain that the WaPo isn’t the only outlet doing this, but was just ham-handed and reality-detached enough to get snagged at it.

          I am sure this point has been made here before.

        • Petrocelli says:

          It has been painfully obvious that the majority of reporting in Papers and on TeeVee are actually infomercials, hence the popularity of Blogs, esp this one where points and counterpoints are scrutinized in mindboggling detail.

  15. hackworth1 says:

    I predict that NBC will fire the droning, right-wing-boot-licker Gregory for lousy ratings and replace him with dim son Luke Russert for star power.

    Luke will be a fine and malleable whore like his late father, but dumber (which is of great benefit to NBC).

      • hackworth1 says:

        dumber by degrees and much more inexperienced and malleable. Luke is getting his chops down now. He will be brought on MTP with much fanfare.

        Son of a F*cking Legend. Everyone agrees. Olbermann and Maddow included.

  16. Hugh says:

    At least Russert was allowing the Vice President to walk all over him. Gregory, apparently, allows small state Governors reeling from the exposure of their moral hypocrisy to do the same.

    Well, we are talking David Gregory here.

  17. hackworth1 says:

    Gregory: Let’s use my forum on Meet The Whore to downplay the gubner’s little liason and cheerlead for our Republican Party. It’s f*cking awesome, dude! F*ckin’ A.

  18. TheOracle says:

    David Gregory is definitely no Walter Cronkite, and the producers of MTP are definitely no Edward R. Murrows.

  19. hackworth1 says:

    From TPMM:

    Sanford’s press secretary, Joel Sawyer (who just today announced he’s quitting — good for him!)

    Sawyer is a Smart Rat to leave the sinking Sanford ship.

  20. RieszFischer says:

    I’m sure right now Timmeh is looking up from his resting place in Hell with pride at the way David Gregory is following in his footsteps.

      • newtonusr says:

        I actually feel sorry for the squirt. Dad in high-profile slot (regardless of his qualifications or talent) shuffles off the coil, and in concert with celebrating his life they canonize the offspring just in time for the pageants conventions…

        Only increases the self-congratulation self-inflicted reach-arounds.

  21. eCAHNomics says:

    Sunday talking heads, imo, seem less and less relevant. Anyone know if the viewership numbers bear that out?

  22. DaveLatchaw says:

    Tim Russert would never have sent an email like Gregory’s.

    He would have used the phone.

  23. barbara says:

    Click on the sketch for a larger view. Actually, doesn’t help much. But all the O’s are fully rounded and closed. Does that eliminate wordy?

  24. PPDCUS says:

    A profound loss of the 4th Estate

    Remembering Walter Cronkite and his legacy of broadcast journalism, he stood firmly for telling his audience what they needed to know, not what they wanted to hear, and not what those in power wanted them to hear.

    Today’s network & cable news corporations are wholly owned instruments of the same interests that control the levers of government.

    Commerical journalism as history’s first draft is history.

  25. Auduboner says:

    Let’s see. Last week, MTP had Karen FUCKIN’ Hughes on there as a “Journalist”!!! YES, the same She-Devil from Ignorant-State Texass that inflicted W on us! Yes, THAT Karen Hughes!!!

    What, Rush Limburger wasn’t available?? That show is less than a joke. Also.

  26. Bluetoe2 says:

    David Gregory is nothing more than a fluffer for Republicans and Blue Dogs. “Journalist?” Merely a high priced and privileded fluffer for the status quo.

  27. Dodger says:

    David Gregry or someone of Political Authority,
    My name is Cindy. Please help me. Nobody is talking about President Oboma’s wanting to eliminate Medicare’s Advantage Plans. I am a Senior and rely on this type of Medical Insurance. President Obama claimed we would be able to keep the Medical Coverage we already have if we did not want to choose a change! Almost Ten Million Seniors are tenured in these plans because of lower out of pocket expenses and you get more types of Medical Coverage than straight MediCare. This is the time in Seniors lives when as much types of medical coverage is absolutly paramount. By taking away these plans it will cost millions of Seniors hardships. Is this anyway to take care of the elderly. It’s as if Seniors are under attack after working and struggling their whole lives. We need these types of Medical Benefits, it is not a time to cut out parts that are vital to our health and pocketbooks!
    Please try to find someone to confer and deliberate some action on this important matter.

  28. constantweader says:

    Any actual news director would fire Gregory on the spot & have armed guards lead him out of the building the minute those e-mails surfaced. Since I don’t watch his stupid show, did anybody notice if Gregory was on set today?

    The Constant Weader at http://www.RealityChex.m

  29. taylorbad says:

    I watched Gregory on MTP today and I thought him rude and unneccessarily aggressive. A decent journalist would have allowed his guest to make his or her statement and THEN attack. Sebelius could hardly get a word in edgewise. Gregory needs to check his ego at the studio door or he will become a has-been at light speed. I didn’t learn a thing from an official from my government on a topic I was interested in but I learned that Gregory is a freakish jerk.

  30. timbo says:

    You know, while I appreciate all this hemming and hawing over Dick Gregory, the truth is that many old school reporters and investigative journalists can seem a bit obsequious when they are trying to pin anything down on the record from obviously reluctant participants in their news making ventures. It is a tribute to our press that politicians even bother to talk to them at times. In this particular case, I think Gregory was simply trying to get some sort of scoop and some sort of comments on the record to a national TV audience. Whether what would have been served up would have been very useful is debatable. Still, if you look at all the techniques that classical journalists use to get folks talking to them, I think Gregory’s tactics here are not surprising, nor are they all that unusual.

    So, for me, I’m just betting that Gregory was disingenuous in some ways, not with regard to his TV audience, but towards the politicians and spokesfolks that he wished to bring to the fore.

    But, yeah, you’re right that we have to keep some of the MSM honest. (If I see Cokie Roberts trying to keep her share prices high one more time…ugh.)