When Gregory welcomed Chertoff back!


The things which don’t get discussed: Yesterday morning, on Meet the Press, David Gregory went a million miles out of his way to reprise Miss Lewinsky, the intern who wasn’t an intern and who has been getting younger.

We were also struck by the way he introduced Michael Chertoff.

In the segment in question, Gregory was discussing Edward Snowden’s situation in Moscow. First, he spoke with one of Snowden’s legal advisers.

After that, he brought Chertoff on, in very casual fashion:
GREGORY (1/26/14): All right, Jesselyn Radack in Moscow for us today. Thank you very much for being here. I appreciate your time.

Michael Chertoff, who’s here as well, former head of Homeland Security and also head of the criminal division under President Bush, which is particularly relevant here. So it's good to see you. Welcome back.

CHERTOFF: Good to be back.

GREGORY: So how would you handle this question? You heard the attorney general. What do you do to get Edward Snowden back?
“It's good to see you,” Gregory said. “Welcome back.”

“Good to be back,” said Chertoff.

Should Gregory have said something more? Not necessarily, no. But we were struck by that casual exchange, which gave the impression that the fellows were just two ships passing in the night.

That isn’t or wasn’t the case. Way back when, we were struck by this passage in a profile of Gregory by Howard Kurtz, then of the Washington Post:
KURTZ (3/14/06): In his personal life, Gregory also rubs shoulders with newsmakers. At a baby shower for his wife before their son Max, now 3, was born, Michael Chertoff, then an assistant attorney general, disappeared into another room with a Justice Department colleague while Gregory tried to figure out what was going on. It turned out they were finalizing a plea agreement with John Walker Lindh, the American captured while fighting for the Taliban. Wilkinson last month became general counsel of Fannie Mae, and the couple now have 8-month-old twins as well.
Say what? Why was Chertoff, a heavy hitter and a one-time major partisan, at Gregory’s baby shower?

Kurtz didn’t explain, so we continued clicking. For a fairly full account of the background, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/26/07.

The nugget: Chertoff had very close professional ties to Gregory’s wife, who was a very heavy hitter and a very large earner of money. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, of course—unless there somehow is.

On TV, everyone plays it straight. Out in TV land, we the rubes are never told about the wealth of our TV stars—about their massive wealth, or about the major players who may drift in and out of the room at their baby showers.

That intro struck us as very casual. Who knows? The fellows may have come to the set straight from a baby shower!


  1. I guess the point is that people like Gregory are part of the power structure, not reporting on it from a vantage outside of it.

    1. BTW, speaking of which, who on Gregory's side completely whitewashed his Wikipedia entry to remove any reference to his San Fernando Valley upbringing and-- especially-- two year stay at Sonoma State University?

      He's obviously sensitive now about his relatively plebe background, proof that the money has clearly taken over. What a jerk.

  2. Two whole posts today and he hasn't mentioned Rachel Maddow yet.

    I am thinking he is like a lioness, waiting in the tall weeds. And when Maddow comments on Rand Paul and Lewinsky tonight, he'll pounce.

    1. He did mention wealthy TV stars. And it is about gulit by association.

    2. It used to be that journalists would avoid that kind of socializing because they knew it would compromise their standards and prevent them from being objective in their work. So, this isn't about "guilt by association" but about whether someone can fairly write about (or interview) people they socialize with while avoiding bias.

    3. Journalists should skip their spouse's baby showers because he/she might invite an ex-boss? Spouses should not invite close associates because those associates might make news?

      Perhaps you should suggest broadcast hosts should not invite family friends or close professional associates to be guests without at least disclosing the connection

  3. Chertoff must be media-connected. He was never given any responsibility at all for the federal response to Katrina, although he was the homeland security director at the time. It never made any sense to me why they went absolutely bonkers over "Brownie" and never reached Chertoff. "Brownie" was disposable, unlike Mr. Chertoff.

    We need a word for this, the marriage of media and politicians and business. "Corruption" does it, but people read that narrowly to mean a violation of a certain statute or law and not this general atmosphere of self-dealing and opaque alliances.

    1. Yes, culpability went straight from Brownie to Bush without touching Chertoff at all.

      By the way, I have a relative who worked for FEMA beginning in the Carter Administration.

      According to him, Reagan treated FEMA regional directorships like political plums, rewarding cronies who had zero expertise and training. This continued through the Bush I years.

      When Clinton came into office, FEMA's employees suddenly started seeing people who knew what they were doing installed as their bosses.

      When Bush II was elected, he took early retirement.

    2. I found it odd that Gregory said he found Chertoff's association with the criminal division particularly appropriate. Doesn't that take a stance about whether Snowden's behavior is criminal, terrorist or whistle-blowing in nature? Shouldn't journalists be more neutral about such things and let their guests take the strong positions? Again, it suggests Gregory is participating instead of observing these events, and that seems wrong to me.

  4. Any connection to black kids here?

    1. Thank heavens you're back. Missed you.

    2. Yes - Gregory's kids and the Obama kids (who are black) attend the same school.

  5. Insightful as usual TDH. Boomers and their baby shower buddies.

  6. Only one Boxcar Willie tune today, Bob?