You and I know that the questions TV “news” commentators ask their guests determine the “slant” of the program, and can do a lot of good or harm to the politician being discussed. So, I find myself wondering just what ax these guys might have to grind.
I was wondering, for example, why David Gregory’s program, “Race for the White House” on MSNBC, is often so toxic to Barack Obama. After all, MSNBC is not Fox News. MSNBC even offers liberal rants from Keith Olbermann and more subdued liberalism from Rachel Maddow to balance the conservatism of Joe Scarborough, Pat Buchanan. Mike Barnicle and their ilk. Most viewers have probably figured out which commentators are coming at us from the left and which are coming from the right. We realize we’re likely to get “straight talk” from nobody, but at least we are able to put the commentators’ remarks in the context of their political orientation once we figure out who is grinding what ax.
What bothers me about Gregory (at right) is his sneakiness. This is a longtime mewsman who got his start in Arizona (John McCain’s state) and was once awarded the title of Best White House Correspondent by the Media Research Center, one of those right-wing organizations. He and Bush are so cozy that the president calls him “Stretch,” in recognition of Gregory’s 6 foot-5 frame. (To be fair, Gregory got in trouble with conservatives back in 2006 when he asked White House spokesman Tony Snow a tough question and later when he got into a rage and started shouting at Scott McClellan.)
At first, I suspected that Gregory is a conservative. How else to explain his defense of Ann Coulter (Rush Limbaugh’s female counterpart), for example? (In an interview with Elizabeth Edwards, Gregory said that if you strip away the rhetoric, Coulter makes valid points.)
You have to be pretty far right to defend Ann Coulter. But I think it’s probably fairer to say Gregory just doesn’t like liberals. On one TV show, he berated Hillary Clinton and others “on the left” who were urging America to get out of Iraq, for instance.
Considering his background, it’s not surprising that his sympathies would lie with the high and mighty. According to a Washington Post article by Howard Kurtz, Gregory is the son of a Broadway producer, and grew up among celebrities like Richard Burton, Rex Harrison and Henry Fonda. He married former federal prosecutor Beth Wilkinson, the general counsel for Fannie Mae, and associates with big shots. According to Kurtz’s article, Michael Chertoff was among their guests at a baby shower.
When you move in that kind of social circle, it’s hard to sympathize with those who would stand up for “the little people.” It’s no wonder that Gregory seems more sympathetic to an admiral’s son and his beer baroness wife than to a former social worker from the south side of Chicago.