Nothing to See Here: Chuck Todd Skips Controversy of Obama Making NCAA Picks During Crises

MSNBC's Chuck Todd on Wednesday hyped the fact that Barack Obama will be making his NCAA tournament picks on ESPN. The Daily Rundown anchor enthused, "You got about 27 hours to get your brackets in. The President has already done his."

Perhaps referencing the devastating earthquake in Japan or the ongoing crisis in Libya, Todd vaguely  allowed, "He's a bit distracted, of course. Maybe he just doesn't just have time to do the research [for college basketball]." But, the MSNBC anchor didn't question the appropriateness of making televised basketball while Japan's nuclear reactors are still a major threat.

It's not as though journalists aren't raising the issue. The New York Post's John Podhoretz on Tuesday wrote:

Japan may be on the verge of a disaster that dwarfs any we have yet seen. A self-governing nation like the United States needs its leader to take full measure of his position at times of crises when the path forward is no longer clear.

This is not a time for leadership; this is the time for leadership.

So where is Barack Obama?
...
And he appeared at a fund-raiser in DC. And sat down with ESPN to reveal his NCAA picks.

National Review's Jim Geraghty wondered:

Okay, that’s not all he’s doing. “Obama will tape interviews from the Map Room with KOAT Albuquerque, KDKA Pittsburgh and WVEC Hampton Roads on education reform and the need to fix No Child Left Behind.”

Japan faces an almost unparalleled crisis, Libya is in civil war, and we’re having another budget showdown after running up a $222.5 billion deficit in the 28 days of February.

Instead, Todd talked to ESPN's Andy Katz and played up the fun of college basketball: "I'll ask you about three teams because the President has personal political connections to three of them. Number one, Xavier, John Boehner, Speaker Boehner, his new nemesis on capitol hill, what did he do with Xavier?"

Has the MSNBC host forgotten how reporters treated George W. Bush after Hurricane Katrina?

A partial transcript of the segment, which aired at 9:53am EDT, follows:

CHUCK TODD: All right, you got about 27 hours to get your brackets in. The President has already done his. He's a bit distracted, of course. Maybe he just doesn't just have time to do the research. But we've discovered a disturbing trend in the President's ability to correctly pick just the Final Four. In 2008, he got three out of the four right. Remember, he wasn't President then. In 2009, he picked the champs correctly but missed the other three members of the Final Four. In 2010, he was O for the Final Four. So, with a chance to redeem himself in 2011, the President is taking the safe route. He's picking four number one seeds. He filled out his bracket with ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz who now joins me. The President's Final Four all chalk. Talk about a guy not prepared, huh, for the- to break down the madness, huh?

ANDY KATZ: Well, I'll tell you once again he has found time for very few minutes of distraction because he does have the knowledge. I mean, he knew about Kimba Walker's run through the Big East tournament and the Morris twins from Kansas and Jared Sullinger from Ohio State. But, he went chalk. But, that's not surprising because I almost went chalk myself. So, I think a lot of people, based on the regions were set up by the selection committee, you know, he was looking for a way to knock Pittsburgh out in that southeast, but he just didn't find another team to push the Panthers out of that. And that's why he advanced them to the final four.


TODD: I'll ask you about three teams because the President has personal political connections to three of them. Number one, Xavier, John Boehner, Speaker Boehner, his new nemesis on capitol hill, what did he do with Xavier? How quickly did he oust them?

KATZ: Xavier was out in first round, though I had them out in the second round, had them beating Marquette. So, it is not surprising to not advance them very far. I would actually challenge -- I would challenge a lot of people to see if they really knew that John Boehner was a graduate of Xavier.

TODD: Fair enough. Fair enough. How about Louisville, Mitch McConnell's alma mater? What did do with Louisville? How far did he take them?

KATZ: He took Louisville not as far as the Final Four but certainly- I asked him about that, I was dismissed quickly that there was any political connection.

TODD: Summarily out of hand. Yeah. And then, of course, there is the Reggie love connection, one of the President's close personal aides, Reggie Love, a former Duke basketball player. What was the smart talk out of the President regarding Duke's advancement to the Final Four?

KATZ: Well, as you'll see, as we debut the piece at noon on Sportscenter, you'll see he does reference a year ago, since he did not advance Duke to the Final Four, he got some flack from Coach K when Coach K and the Blue Devils came to the White House.

— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org