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NBC's Chuck Todd Blames Us For Not Sacrificing Enough

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     While most of the reporting of President Obama’s Tuesday night press conference focused almost exclusively on CNN’s Ed Henry’s question to the President: 

         “But on AIG, why did you wait -- why did you wait days to come out and express that outrage? It seems like the action is coming out of New York and the attorney general's office. It took you days to come public with Secretary Geithner and say, look, we're outraged. Why did it take so long?” and the President’s stern rebuke: 

         “It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak.All right.” 

the broadcast media gave MSNBC’s Chuck Todd a pass on what was clearly the most disgraceful question of the evening:


         “Why, given this new era of responsibility that you're asking for, why haven't you asked for something specific that the public should be sacrificing to participate in this economic recovery?

 The President’s response was mature but frosty: 

        With respect to the American people, I think folks are sacrificing left and right. I mean, you've got a lot of parents who are cutting back on everything to make sure that their kids can still go to college. You've got workers who are deciding to cut an entire day -- an entire day's worth of pay so that their fellow co-workers aren't laid off.I think that, across the board, people are making adjustments large and small to accommodate the fact that we're in very difficult times right now.”  

    Perhaps the President, in his trademark “cool” manner, had scolded Todd for suggesting the involuntary sacrifice of the struggling public’s hard earned and garnished wage taxes (to AIG, CITI, Bank of America, etc.) was not enough.


    Todd had prepared for this press conference by posting on an MSNBC website an open call for the public to suggest questions regular people would ask the President if given the chance. Was this the best question Todd could glean from the hundreds submitted? Is it credible the public asked him to ask that inane and insulting question?


    After all the trumpeting of the suggest-a-question-for-Chuck-to-ask-the-President, was that the best he could do.The question Todd asked was that of a Wall Street millionaire than a main street wage-earner.


    So the inbreeding of media with the rich and the powerful survives NBC’s previous White House Correspondent (and Karl Rove dance partner) David Gregory. No wonder the only coverage of the nation’s spreading tent cities (the 21st Century’s new Hoovervilles) has received little attention on the traditional networks and on cable.


    Clueless Todd doesn’t live outside the DC bubble, and likely would dread having to do so. Most of these corporate-owned reporters are well compensated (above that $250,000 threshold of the President’s tax increase proposal) and ask the kind of questions their corporate bosses tell them to ask in order to remain among the privileged bubble people.


    The great investigative reporters of the 60s and early 70s were not paid near as well as their inferior sellout successors are today. Perhaps that is why the nation survived McCarthy, Watergate, Vietnam: because the pay of reporters was just a step or two above the average American’s. Had those reporters been paid as well as Henry and Todd, would so much of the struggles of the 60s and early 70s(King, poverty, political and corporate corruption) been ignored or marginalized? The nation was blessed by the, then, modestly compensated Woodward and Bernstein, and yet we sense the compromise of one of that pair after he became wealthy and too well connected to the powerful.


    So, Henry gets a mild slapdown from the President, but at least CNN’s man challenged the account of power. Chuck Todd went after the powerless. We, he claims, aren’t doing enough to help repair what we broke. Or was he just mouthing a question some CNBC snot or Wall Street bonuser told him to ask?

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Retired, Robert Arend was president of an AFSCME local from 1997-2007.
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