Like so many people who pass themselves off as political commentators, Chuck Todd (NBC’s “Political Director”) really isn’t so much a player as he is an actor. Like the folks who anchor the “news” on the financial networks, Chuck is really a wannabe . He’s on TV because he likes being on TV – just like the financial news folks like to be seen by the titans of industry they “report” on, and, in many cases, like the guys who anchor sports coverage (those who aren’t ex-jocks). They’re guys who love sports and the people who play sports.
Please understand there’s a difference between loving politics and reporting on it; between loving the financial industry and reporting on it; and between loving sports and reporting on it. I think today, we’ve got a lot of lovers and not many reporters.
If ever there was any doubt that Chuck Todd is not a reporter, it went away last week Wednesday when, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, under blistering questioning from fellow guest Ed Rendell, Chuck said it wasn’t his job to correct misrepresentations about the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a ObamaCare.
Really? Well, then, don’t call yourself a reporter or a journalist, Chuck, because people who fit that job description do their best to get to the TRUTH of any story they’re covering. Todd said it was the job of the White House to correct the misinformation being spread about ObamaCare, not his.
I did my best to teach my two kids that under many circumstances, “no” actually means “I want more information”. There are clear exceptions to this notion, particularly when a young lady says “no” to your romantic advances, but often a “no” means “we can get to yes from here, but I need to know more about what you’re saying”. The popularity of ObamaCare is dropping, if you ask me, for two reasons: the White House really is mismanaging the message, and one of the political parties, which thinks it will benefit from people not liking ObamaCare, is telling some tall tales about ObamaCare.
This is to me a classic case of “no means I need more information”.
If we are to have good information about ObamaCare – or any other government program at any level, from Washington DC to your own municipality– we must rely on reporters and journalists to try and ferret out some TRUTH. It’s no wonder so many have reservations about ObamaCare – will there be death panels? Will I get to keep my doctor? Will I still be able to go to my clinic? Will my health insurance cost go up or down?
Truth is an elusive thing, sometimes, but when you’ve got one party saying one thing and the other party saying another, it’s hard to tell where the truth is. Commentators, like Todd, can say whatever they want. Reporters have to dig to try and find the truth.
Many people are saying “no” to ObamaCare because they want more information. They want answers for their questions. And guys like Todd – and there are a lot of them on TV – really do more harm than good, because they love the politics but don’t try to get at the truth.
If you’re a parent, you’ve lived the “more information” scenario many times. Your child asks for something and you say no. If the child takes the time to explain more about what they want, or why it’s important to them, your initial “no” could easily become a “yes”. In sales training, we were taught many ways to overcome objections and get to “yes”. And I learned, years ago, peddling radio advertising to local merchants, that if I did a good enough job answering their questions, I could get a signed order.
Bottom line: NBC’s job should be to get factual information to its viewers during its news programs, and that involves fact-checking and research, and that’s often what separates the reporters from the wannabees. NBC should let Chuck Todd have all the fun he wants as a commentator, but should not put him on its evening newscasts unless he decides it IS his responsibility to try and get at the truth of statements made by politicians.
And NBC shouldn’t have to tell that to Todd. It should understand its responsibility to the public and keep wannabees off the news without being told.