Norman Ornstein, alive and well!

TUESDAY, MAY 15, 2012

Things you can’t say on TV: If Greg Sargent can be believed, Norm Ornstein is no longer missing!

Sargent says he has spoken to Ornstein. He even asked if the Sunday shows have refused to invite him on the air to discuss his hot new book, written with Thomas Mann:
SARGENT (5/14/12): I ran this thesis by Ornstein himself, and he confirmed that the book’s publicity people had tried to get the authors booked on the Sunday shows, with no success.

“Not a single one of the Sunday shows has indicated an interest, and I do find it curious,” Ornstein told me, adding that the Op ed had well over 200,000 Facebook recommends and has been viral for weeks. “This is a level of attention for a book that we haven’t received before. You would think it would attract some attention from the Sunday shows.”

Ornstein also noted another interesting point. Their thesis takes on the media for falling into a false equivalence mindset and maintaining the pretense that both sides are equally to blame. Yet despite the frequent self-obsession of the media, even that angle has failed to generate any interest. What’s more, some reporters have privately indicated their frustration with their editorial overlords’ apparent deafness to this idea.
“Despite the frequent self-obsession of the media, even that angle has failed to generate any interest?” Gregory, please!

Can we talk?

The rules are clear on such matters. Mainstream journalists are allowed to engage in certain types of press criticism. But let’s review the rules:

Conservative journalists are allowed to complain about liberal bias. This rule has been in place for decades. It’s known to one and all.

Mainstream journalists are allowed to advance certain Potemkin criticisms. For example, journalists are allowed to say the following, while acting chagrined: “We really do focus way too much on the horse race story.”

In some cases, journalists are allowed to make more serious confessions, as long as they are distracting attention away from a more gruesome truth. One example:

Late in Campaign 2000, Cokie Roberts advanced a patently bogus bit of press criticism. She said the press corps had been pursuing two major narratives: Gore is dishonest, Bush is stupid. In this way, she pretended to explain the press corps’ obsessive focus on a few small errors Gore had made at the first Bush-Gore debate.

In fact, Roberts’ claim was utterly bogus. But it was better than admitting what the press corps was actually doing.

So yes, journalists are allowed to advance certain types of criticism. But Ornstein’s isn’t among them! Is the press corps trapped in “a false equivalence mindset?” Are journalists “maintaining the pretense that both sides are equally to blame?”

Everyone knows that these claims are true—and everyone knows that these claims aren’t allowed. Claims like these are not on the list of things you can say on TV.

Ornstein and Mann want to make those claims—but those claims are not allowed. And by the way:

That "self-obsession" is a pose. We would have thought everyone knew that.


  1. As far as I can tell, David Gregory would rather have his teeth pulled live on TV than have Norman Ornstein on his show to tell the truth about the GOP ... and about complicit media.

    I'm pleased to see today that Up With Chris is interested. Maybe Colbert or Stewart will interview Mann and/or Ornstein. They're more real news than the Sunday GOP chat shows are.

  2. Ralf, I like that phrase, "Sunday GOP chat shows." I don't remember how long ago it was, somebody explained the rule. If the show has a Democrat, they have to have at least three Republicans to offset him, preferably one right wing extremist. Usually it is better to just not have any Democrat or (real) centrist on at all. If you have somebody who is center-right, you must have at least two from the far right. Never have a union representative. Never have someone who might redirect the audience's attention from the latest approved shiny thing to any subject that really matters. I don't remember exactly, when was it the FCC dropped the "fairness doctrine?"

  3. Ralf, you make a very good point, but the viewership for those shows is significant, and there's a feedback loop with the establishment print media that reinforces the public discourse those shows help to create.

    So while you are right about the "complicit media," Gregory, and so on, it does matter that Mann and Ornstein cannot appear on those shows.

    It's called censorship, though I would imagine--I'm speculating and novelizing here!--David Gregory, Bob Schieffer and George Stephanopoulos would turn backflips and rend their garments if accused of such.

    Roger's account of the ideological orientations of the "Sunday GOP chat shows" sounds right on.

  4. A good example among many of why we need a democratic press rather than a free one. Oh well.

  5. great post... might help me a good deal,it is Exactly what I used to be seeking! Thank you.