The monetization of everything in the post-journalistic guild: David Gregory had his hands full with Sunday’s Meet the Press panel.
He was hosting a four-member panel, but three of his guests were peddling books! Here’s how the segment started:
ANNOUNCER (11/10/13): Meet the Press is back with our political roundtable. Here this morning, Mark Halperin, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Donna Edwards and Joe Scarborough.Poor Gregory! He also had to waste some time letting Goodwin connect her book to the present. Question: Does she always have to peddle her books like this?
Now, David Gregory.
GREGORY: And welcome all! A lot to get to, including Chris Christie and the future of the Republican Party.
Joe, your book is coming out at an ideal time because the Republican Party is looking at the future. Do they see Chris Christie in the center of it?
GOODWIN: Well, the man I just lived with, Theodore Roosevelt, was in a similar position. I mean, he was more progressive—I mean, maybe a different kind of ideology, than his party at the time. And through the force of his personality, he dragged the Republican Party to deal with the issues that were created by the industrial age.Stop it right now! If we’re counting correctly, this is the third straight book Goodwin has peddled this way—with constant, cloying references to “the man I’ve been living with.”
Similar in a certain way to some of the traits that Chris Christie has...
Halperin, Scarborough and Goodwin are all selling books. But then, so is everyone else in D.C.’s money-mad Punditsylvania. In the Outlook section of Sunday’s Washington Post, Eric Wemple fought his way through the profusion of current titles, making just one small mistake (see below). But the most intriguing passage about a pundit-wrought book came from a separate review of Chris Matthews’ newest effort.
Like everyone else in his cohort, Matthews has a new book. We were struck by the way Howell Raines zeroed in on Matthews’ “Hiberian” framework:
RAINES (11/10/13): Given the reverence for all things Hibernian in Chris Matthews’s “Tip and the Gipper,” a reader might conclude that the current legislative crises are due to a shortage of Irish Americans in the capital. Matthews, the host of MSNBC’s show “Hardball” and a former aide to O’Neill, feels that his monocausal ethnic analysis—replete with Irish stories, Irish jokes, donnybrooks and shamrocks—needs defending. “It’s easy,” he writes, “from the vantage point of today, to mock all those Irish jokes and the swapping of stories between the president and the Speaker. But I was there, and the plain truth is, they kept the conversation going when no other progress seemed possible otherwise.”According to Raines, “Matthews cites approvingly Reagan’s diary entry about O’Neill giving him a shamrock tie on St. Patrick’s Day. ‘Tip is a true pol. He can really like you personally & be a friend while politically trying to beat your head in.’ ”
In fact, Matthews builds a solid, multi-sourced case that the leaders’ publicly embraced obsessions with a shared heritage did facilitate a civil tone in the historic battles over Reagan’s austerity budget and his 1981 income tax cuts. Of course, the chief exhibits attesting to the value of compromise were their grand bargains on Social Security in 1983 and on the tax reform bill of 1986. Matthews had plenty of company in believing that Irishness was a universal legislative emollient. Indeed, from the start, Reagan aides, O’Neill aides and journalists, including David Broder and James Reston, rallied to what Broder called the “stubborn Irishmen” theory. This book conjures the mood of “The Quiet Man,” in which John Wayne and Ward Bond buddy up after a bar brawl.
Matthews may be right about the role played by the Irish-American bond between O’Neill and O’Reagan. For our money, the role of Irish Catholic cultural bonding in modern politics has been vastly under-discussed and under-reported.
We Irish! In the decade after Tip and Ronnie, Our Own Jack Welch rebuilt NBC News in the image of an East Coast Irish Catholic boys’ club. Matthews was one the fellows recruited to join this peculiar guild, which summered on Nantucket.
How Irish did NBC News become? By the time Bush and Gore stages their three debates, this was the pundit lineup debating their battles on MSNBC:
Brian Williams, moderator
Doris Kearns Goodwin
All five were East Coast Irish Catholics. So was their first non-panelist guest, the late Tim Russert.
Go ahead! Work out the odds.
Welch’s Irish Catholic club worked hard to take down Candidate Gore, just as Jack must have wanted. Welch made people rich in the process. The guild agreed not to notice.
Joe Klein once noted the preponderance of Irish Catholics in the ranks of the top Clinton-haters in the 1990s. Beyond that, we’ve rarely seen anyone willing to comment on the peculiar role We Irish played in that grotesque political decade, what with our Hibernian ties and our throwback mid-century culture.
(Current primetime lineup on Fox: O’Reilly, Kelly and Hannity. People, we’re just saying!)
Speaking of We Irish, Brian Kilmeade (Fox & Friends) has co-written an alleged book about the American revolution! But then, the successor to the American press corps is all about monetization and of course career.
In an imitation of journalism, children from the finest schools are hired to write about education even if they know nothing about it. Similarly, everyone and his Fox & Friends anchor has an imitation book he is trying to sell.
Wemple’s lone mistake: As he fought his way through those books, we thought Wemple made one misstep. You can possibly guess who fooled him:
WEMPLE (11/10/13): Though grafting cable formats onto books is generally a bad idea, it works for [Rachel] Maddow, who’s famous for churning out towering monologues on her MSNBC show...Wemple! For crying out loud! That statement wasn’t meant to be true. It was a humblebrag!
The first line of Maddow’s acknowledgments hints at one secret to her success, a pointer that Bill “Ten Books in a Decade” O’Reilly might consider: “I’m the slowest writer on earth.”