One of my favorite lines from the movie Casablanca is when Humphrey Bogart's character shoots a look at Peter Lorre, in that way only Bogart could, and informs him, "I don't mind a parasite, just a cut-rate one." Bogart crystallized his feeling for someone like Lorre's character in the same way I feel about media hacks. In general, I don't mind them as they are a reality in today's world, I just mind cut-rate ones.
This brings me to Today Show's Matt Lauer who seems to personify the very splendor of cut-rate media hackery. There is no doubt who the Today Show's democraphic is: a strange, distorted 5th Avenue view of "soccer mom" sensibilities projected via the likes of Lauer, Meredith Vieira, Ann Curry and Al Roker. The very flower of that sensiblity, the vaccous and incredibly shallow Katie Couric, has now moved on to "anchor" [in more ways than one as she sinks the ratings] the CBS Evening News.
I'm not at all stunned at the one-dimensional qualities served up by Lauer as he makes near comedic attmepts to act as a serious "on the record" interviewer whenever he has political reporters or elected representatives on. But Lauer seems to redefine that cheap hackery whenever he serves up questions within the context of Rovian issue framing that only a White House stenographer could appreciate. So when Tim Russert appeared yesterday morning to cover the days political news, Lauer reached new heights of hackery only he could manage:
"LAUER: Vice President Cheney called
Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Syria “bad behavior,” a Washington Post editorial on
Thursday called it “counter-productive and foolish,” and an op-ed in the Wall
Street Journal this morning goes a step further and suggests her trip may
actually have been a felony, that it may have violated something called the
Logan Act. Tim, is this the way the Democrats wanted to get off the mark in
terms of foreign affairs?"
It's that lack of pretense acting as a lackey for the White House that's so disturbing. Since Lauer went the whole nine yards with this frame why not just go that last yard, cut to the real intent of the question, and change the wording to reflect that: "Tim, by aiding, abetting and sympathizing with terrorists doesn't this undermine the Democrats posing as real patriotic Americans?"
Now as a comparative let's look at Cheney's appearance on Limbaugh this past Thursday:
"LIMBAUGH: Can you share with
us whether or not you understand their [the Democrats] devotion, or their seeming allegiance to
the concept of U.S. defeat?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I can't."
And Limbaugh is the unapologetic winger here. If there is even the slightest difference between Lauer's and Limbaugh's framing, then I guess I've been taking too many of Morpheus' blue pills.
[h/t the 13th juror]