by E.C. Fish on January 25, 2012

It had been apparent for quite some time before his extended public snit at South Carolina’s Winthrop University on the 19th that NBC News Chief White House Correspondent and Political Director Chuck Todd was a hack, but until his bizarre attempted takedown of satirist Stephen Colbert the sheer depth of his value blind fatuousness had never been thrown into such sharp relief.

Todd, who likes to style himself America’s Civics Geek and whose happiest moments seem to be when he’s running the touch screens on election nights, is a practitioner of the sort of horse race centered coverage that devotes untold airtime to detailed analyses of the pronouncements of the Washington elite without once making reference to whether or not those pronouncements contain a single grain of truth, and spends an hour every morning on MSNBC refereeing the kind of he said/she said “discussions” that bad journalists use instead of objectivity, again without making any mention of the numerous occasions when he or she stands up on his or her hind legs and lies like a dog.

And it would seem that Mr Colbert is simply ruining his party. Presenting himself as a person who “idolizes” the institutions of government and feels sorry for those who don’t, Todd accused Colbert and his Comedy Central cohort John Stewart– who are, and try to keep this in mind, comedians– of corrupting and making a mockery of the system, worrying that his “agenda” would¬† “trivialize our institutions” and “make people more cynical”. The mere fact that a person who has supposedly been a working Washington journalist since 1992 should waste a single precious moment worrying about the long gone faits accomplis of corruption, trivialization, and cynicism in American politics and crying over the long curdled spilt milk of our institutions would, in a better world, be indictment enough to end that person’s career. In this one, it doesn’t even seem to scratch his credibility. In fairness, if somewhat ironically in this case, it is a grossly under reported story.

Todd’s objection to Colbert’s agenda has, I think, been misinterpreted as an objection to Colbert’s having one in the first place– an asinine conceit in and of itself– when in fact his main objection to that agenda is that not only does it not fit in to the sort of lazy centrist mainstream narrative that has been the stock in trade of Todd and many of his colleagues in the Washington media for the last couple of decades, but tends to draw attention to how much of that narrative has been cobbled together out of spit and wishes and how little is has to do with the lives and concerns of the vast majority of his countrymen.

In short, those comedians are making Todd, and by extension the major network political news division he runs and a sizable number of other Washington media outlets, and the people who take them seriously, look ridiculous. Todd finds this dangerous. He is right– it is, and should be, dangerous, specifically to the future career of Chuck Todd.

And in the end, Todd’s criticism of Colbert and Stewart is the same as the prostitute’s criticism of the promiscuous– they just give¬† it away, and it’s bad for business.

E.C. Fish is the executive editor and publisher of The Spleen

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

kirk February 21, 2012 at 5:28 am

“lazy centrist mainstream narrative” … nice phrase.

On the other hand, that narrative is also very aggressive when challenged.


tania August 20, 2012 at 5:59 pm

You are correct about Todd….can’t stand it when Cobert or Stewart end up summing up Washington as it truly is…And Todd is one of them. As is the hack David Greggory who took Russert’s job on meet the press..he is dancing around on stage with the criminal Rove…The joke of the “middle” press that actually is right wing based. The entertainment media is a joke.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: