Brokaw Brings Strong Liberal Tilt to 'Meet The Press'

In his first Sunday as interim host of "Meet the Press," retired NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw suggested he would lean strongly to the left this year. He lamented the presence of "scurrilous things about Barack Obama out on the blogosphere." He asked a series of questions about "climate change," suggesting it’s a "wise decision" to have a ban on new coal-driven power plants. His only Tim Russert-style block of text was New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's denunciation of President Bush’s "massive, fraudulent, pathetic excuse for an energy policy." The only surprise was asking Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter if the Democratic platform would favor abortion again, noting Ritter was "anti-abortion." But as Ritter touted himself as a "great example" of his party’s diversity on abortion, Brokaw ignored Ritter’s liberal-pleasing record on abortion.

Brokaw’s first guests were Gov. Bill Ritter of Colorado and Gov. Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming. Brokaw worried that the people of Wyoming might be swayed by scurrilous rumors about Obama: "There's been some scurrilous things about Barack Obama out on the blogosphere. When you announced your endorsement, did you hear any of that in Wyoming, or did you hear from bloggers who are not happy with him, either as a result of his political positions, they've attacked his name and even raised questions about his faith?"

It’s a little odd for Brokaw to suggest it’s beyond the pale to "even raise questions" about Obama’s faith, considering the scandalous church Obama was attending, where his longtime minister declared America deserved 9/11 and that AIDS was a government conspiracy to exterminate black people. But Brokaw seemed very much in the media "mainstream" in expressing grave concern about Obama rumors on the Internet and betraying no real concern about scurrilous Internet smears against John McCain. Like most media stars, Brokaw suggested to viewers that all the smears and all the fiction in presidential politics are coming from the right. The left, apparently, never says or writes anything unfair or untrue.

But the most consistent thread in Brokaw’s questioning was championing a government crackdown to stop "climate change." He asked the governors: "Jim Hansen, who's one of the leading climate scientists in the world working for NASA said just last week we have to have a moratorium on new coal-driven power plants in the country. Isn't that a wise decision, given what global climate change is doing to this country?"

He stayed on that track when he interviewed California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. After several hardballs about his unpopularity in the state, Brokaw asked about McCain junking his environmentalism: "You endorse Senator McCain as the presidential candidate, saying he was a crusader who had the best interests of the environment in mind. Now, he's in favor of offshore oil drilling and he wants to build 45 nuclear plants. Do you still stand by his record in that regard?"

His one Russert-style block of text was quoting from a favorite NBC source, columnist Thomas Friedman:

Let me ask you about something that Tom Friedman has written in The New York Times about President Bush and energy policy. It was entitled "Lead or Leave." He said that the president two years ago said we're addicted to oil. Now, he says, we have a "new Bush energy plan: `Get more addicted to'" it. It's "hard," according to Mr. Friedman, "to find" "words to express what a massive, fraudulent, pathetic excuse for an energy policy this is." Do you agree with him on that very harsh assessment of the president?

Brokaw also asked Schwarzenegger about California’s economy, but swerved into an attack on wasteful SUV drivers: "But has California been on a binge that was just unrealistic? A lot of speculation about cashing in on the real estate market, buying the big SUVs to drive on the freeways, one passenger using all that energy?" If there’s only "one passenger" in the car using all the energy, who’s driving?

The only real surprise in the questioning was Brokaw’s question about the abortion plank in the Democratic platform, a question that is historically ignored, even as the media have historically obsessed over the abortion plank in the Republican platform.

BROKAW: Governor Ritter, you're a practicing Catholic. You're anti-abortion. The abortion debate will come up at the Democratic Convention as well. Do you expect that there will be a plank that will be emphasizing pro-choice for the Democratic Party?

RITTER: You know, it's interesting. In Colorado, when I ran in 2006, I actually ran without a primary, and it tells you a little bit about the West and how--I think the Democratic Party in the West has been able to say that that's not going to be a litmus test for candidates. I suspect it'll be a plank in the platform, and it has been a plank in the platform for a very long time, but that doesn't mean that as a party, that we don't very much embrace people who might have different views. And I'm a great example of that.

In fact, Ritter ran in 2006 on a pledge to restore taxpayers funding for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, and within two months of taking office, pleased abortion lobbyists by signing a bill forcing Catholic hospitals to provide information on "emergency contraceptives" to rape victims.

No wonder Laura Ingraham joked on her radio show on Monday that she wanted to set herself on fire after five minutes.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis