NBC's Baloney Balance: Bills Buchanan as 'Republican'

Have a look at the legend that 'Today' ran beneath the image of Pat Buchanan this morning. 'Republican' strategist? Really? Buchanan quit the Republican party in 1999 to run for president against George W. Bush as the candidate of the Reform Party. Go to Buchanan's official web site, The American Cause. The creed advanced there is Pat's particular brew of protectionism, isolationism and conservatism, with nary a reference to the Republican party.

So why, might you ask, would NBC engage in such false packaging? The answer is obvious: to gull viewers into thinking that it is presenting a fair balance of opinions.

This morning, Buchanan was part of a panel discussing the war in Iraq. His counterpart was former Clinton spokeswoman Dee Dee Myers. A more mainstream Democrat you could not find, and certainly a skeptic when it comes to the war. To 'balance' her, NBC chose Buchanan, who is not merely a skeptic on the war, but has been one of its harshest critics. Have a look, for example at this 2003 column in which Buchanan, speaking of Iraq, alleges that "a neoconservative clique seeks to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America’s interest." Buchanan left no doubt, by the way, that by 'neo-conservatives' he specifically had Jews in mind, adding "neocons say we attack them because they are Jewish. We do not. We attack them because their warmongering threatens our country."

The best Buchanan could muster this morning in defense of the Bush strategy was to the effect that now that we're there, the president is committed to muddling through and "it is either going to work or it is not going to work." Thanks for the support, Pat!

On the other side, Myers of course didn't hesitate to criticize, her task made that much easier by guest host Campbell Brown who teed up a 'helpful' opening question. Referring to the President Bush's current effort to speak about the war, Campbell dubiously inquired "are people really listening anymore?"

Dee Dee was only too happy to take the hint: "Every time he goes out, I think he has less credibility. I think slowly but surely, people are tuning out the president's rhetoric."

This panel was as 'fair & balanced' as a hypothetical one in which Fred Barnes would be 'balanced' by Democrat Zell Miller. Don't look for that one anytime soon at Today, but expect to see lots more of the Pat & Dee Dee Show.

Finkelstein lives in Ithaca, NY, where he hosts the award-winning public-access TV show 'Right Angle'. Contact him at: mark@gunhill.net

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.