James Carville appeared, all alone, on the December 28th edition of the Today. Let’s count the number of things wrong with the piece, airing at 7:15AM: During the interview, Campbell Brown questioned Carville uncritically, never challenged his assertions, and, worst of all, allowed the man to pimp his new film. Brown opened the piece this way:
"As we prepare to ring in the new year, we can’t help but wonder what big political stories will dominate in 2006. Democratic strategist James Carville is going to peer into his crystal ball this morning."
Now, it is true that Matt Lauer interviewed Ann Coulter yesterday, but usually partisan political commentators, who are giving predictions, are balanced by someone who holds a differing view. Carville starts by prognosticating that Congressman Harold Ford, running for a U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee, will be elected. Carville states, "Well, we’re going to double the number of African Americans in the Senate, from one to two." Brown, seemingly impressed, responds, "That would be big news." No mention is made, by Brown or Carville, that there is another high profile African American with a decent chance of being elected to the Senate. Republican Michael Steele, the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, is running for an open seat in that state.
Brown then asks Carville about his other prediction, that there will be significant troop withdrawal in 2006. She notes that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has announced a planned withdrawal of 7000, then asks, "But you think it’s going to be major troop reduction in the year ahead?" Carville responds:
"I think so. I think politically, going into the election, it’s going to be very difficult to sustain a large number of American troops defending a theocracy in Iraq whose closest ally is Iran. I think that’s going to dawn on people that, hey, this election really strengthened the hands of the theocrats, the religious Shia."
Again, Brown doesn’t challenge Carville about his negative assessment of the Iraqi elections or of the country’s future. Finally, NBC allows Carville, under the guise of making predictions, to promote "All the King’s Men," the film for which he is listed as an Executive Producer. During this, Carville "prognosticates" the following gems:
"I think it’s going to be the best film of 2006...It really is a great movie. It’s got a tremendous cast. I think it’ll really be something to see....And I think it’s just going to be an awesome movie. I’m really looking forward to it. That’s the thing I’m looking forward to the most of anything in 2006."
Campbell Brown apparently agrees with this assessment. She concludes the interview by noting that the film has "a great cast."
A transcript of the relevant portion follows:
Campbell Brown: "As we prepare to ring in the new year, we can't help but wonder what big political stories will dominate in 2006. Democratic strategist James Carville is going to peer into his crystal ball this morning."
James Carville: "Good morning. Crystal ball. He who looks into a crystal ball eats glass. Get ready to eat a little glass."
Brown: "Well, let's see how you do. We'll start with your prediction number one. You think the Senate is going to make history this year. How?"
Carville: "Well, we're going to double the number of African Americans in the Senate, from one to two. Or from one one hundredth to one fiftieth. I think Harold Ford is going to pull a big upset in Tennessee and be the second African American in the senate, and join Barack Obama from Illinois."
Brown: "That would be big news."
Carville: It would be. It would be. But I gotta take a little long shot. The guy is very, very talented. He's doing very well down there and I think he's a pretty good candidate. Going to do very well.
Brown: "All right, let's talk about number two. Because we're going to be spending a lot of time on this in the weeks ahead. All eyes are going to be on the President's second Supreme Court nominee, as we approach the confirmation hearings for Judge Samuel Alito. Is he going to get confirmed?"
Carville: "My guess is that he will be confirmed. But it's going to be a really big fight. I think they'll probably going to have to go nuclear on a filibuster. The Democrats are going to mount a really, really vigorous campaign. I think there's going to be big ethics questions that are going to be raised. And I think its going to be one of those events that we're going to look back- and going to be a pretty historical fight. My guess is, the arithmetic is tough for the Democrats to overcome. I think the Republicans would go nuclear. But I think the country is going to be treated to one huge civics lesson, here."
Brown: "Not like what we saw with Judge John Roberts?"
Carville: "I don't think it's going to be anything like the Roberts fight. I think it's going to be pretty bitter and pretty protracted. I think there's going to be a
lot of procedural motions that are going to be going through before this is over."
Brown: "Number three. Troop reduction in Iraq. We've already heard the Bush administration talk about this a little bit. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announcing a slight draw down, 7000 fewer troops. But you think it's going to be major troop reduction in the year ahead?"
Carville: "I think so. I think politically, going into the election, it's going to be very difficult to sustain a large presence of American troops defending a theocracy in Iraq whose closest ally is Iran. I think that's going to dawn on people that, hey, this election really strengthened the hands of the theocrats, the religious Shia. And, you know, that's the kind of country that they decided they wanted to have. It's very unfortunate, I think. I would have liked to see some of the secular parties do better. And some of the Sunni parties do better, but they didn't. And I think it's going to be very hard politically to sustain this, going into a election year. I think there's going to be enormous pressure from Republicans on the Hill to withdraw the number of American U.S. troops pretty fast, as it dawns on people what's happening on in Iraq.
Brown: "All right. Your final prediction, we're going to plug your movie. You think the hottest political film of 2006 is going to be "All the King's Men." And you wouldn't happen to be the executive producer of that film, would you?"
Carville: "Well, I might have a little interest in it. I think it's going to be the best film of 2006. I think it really is a great movie. It's got a tremendous cast. I think it'll really be something to see. And I think it's going to do an enormous amount of good for Louisiana and for the people of Louisiana. The entire film was filmed there. It was based on the great Robert Penn Warren novel that he wrote when he was Louisiana. And I think it's just going to be an awesome movie. I'm really looking forward to it. That's the thing I’m looking forward to the most of anything in 2006, Campbell."
Brown: "A great cast, too. Good luck with it."