Sunday, August 08, 2004

Again, Matthews Hosts Unfair and Unbalanced Panel

I'm watching the opening of Chris Matthews' show this morning on NBC, and he introduces his panel:

-- Liz Marlantes, a journalist with the Christian Science Monitor (nonpartisan)
-- Pete Williams, a journalist with NBC News (nonpartisan, although he once worked for George H.W. Bush's administration)
-- Howard Fineman, a journalist with Newsweek (nonpartisan)
-- David Brooks, a right-wing columnist for the New York Times

What's wrong with this picture?

Unless Matthews positions himself as a liberal -- and he doesn't -- you have a right-tilting panel, and hence, a right-tilting presentation of the news. How hard would it be to sub in, or add on, a liberal panelist?

I suppose I shouldn't be surprsed, because this is how Matthews regularly structures his Sunday panel, mimicking the structure of panels on his nightly MSNBC show, "Hardball." If it's not David Brooks up against Howard Fineman, then its Peggy Noonan, or Tony Brinkley, or David Dreier, or Pat Buchanan. The panels far too often take the journalist/right-wing advocate structure.

This morning, practically the first words out of Brooks' mouth referenced the "wacko wing" of the Democratic Party. Matthews briefly discussed the discredited "swift boat veterans" advertisement, but there was no outrage expressed by any of the panelists.

Etc., etc.

Without diving too deep into the merits of this morning's show -- which concluded Bush had a better week than Kerry, and that a terrorist attack right before the election would help Bush's chances for re-election -- the journalist/right-wing advocate panel structure is unfair and unbalanced.

Matthews' Sunday show has higher ratings -- and I would assume draws a greater number of non-political junkies -- than "Hardball." But the rules of panel structuring are unaffected.



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