NBC host Chuck Todd may have accidentally revealed on Sunday why he — and other mainstream media personalities — often let their guests off the hook instead of conducting a hard-hitting interview.
During a panel discussion with about the popularity of political satire, Todd asserted that comedians may be guilty of fueling the public’s cynicism.
But comedian W. Kamau Bell argued that programs like The Daily Show gave viewers hope.
“You feel like I can laugh my way through this,” he pointed out. “I think that whenever they watch Jon Stewart or John Oliver, they feel like they are at least getting that person’s perspective. I don’t think people believe with the news, you know, you feel like you’re getting a corporation’s perspective.”
The Daily Show‘s Lewis Black said that it was unfair to blame comedy for cynicism when many Americans were even more angry than comedians.
“I have watched you and everybody else,” he told Todd, “where somebody comes on, and I don’t know how you do it because I’d be barking at them.”
“We all sit there because we know the first time we bark is the last time we do the show,” Todd explained. “There’s something where all of the sudden nobody will come on your show.”
Bell added that Fox News “gets to bark,” while the mainstream media often played clips of comedians because they were “afraid of barking.”
“They will play a clip of The Daily Show or they will play a clip of John Oliver, and go, ‘Look at this guy barking. Anyway, back to a reasonable discussion. Even though I know that’s what I want you to believe, let me have the reasonable discussion,'” Bell noted.
After admitting that he wasn’t able to “bark” at guests,” Todd went on to ask the panel if politicians were ducking “real interviews” by appearing on comedy shows.
“Which is obviously my point of view,” the NBC host quipped.
“I think that sometimes Jon Stewart has done more hard-hitting interviews with John McCain than some journalists I’ve seen,” Bell remarked. “So I think sometimes comedians can — because we’re barking as we said earlier — we can get away with barking.”
Egberto Willies, who first wrote about the clip, observed that Todd had spoken “a truth that Americans must understand when watching the news.”
“In other words, if you are touting the narrative of the plutocracy, rules do not apply to you,” Willies observed. “It is imperative that Americans understand how to process our so called news in the context of what the talking heads are allowed to say. We will make better electoral decisions then.”
Watch the video below from NBC’s Meet the Press, broadcast Dec. 28, 2014.