Ethics Quote Of The Month: NBC’s “Meet The Press” Host Chuck Todd


“Where I think political correctness got in the way of what we all knew as reporters and didn’t fully deliver was how hated the Clintons were in the heartland. And I think it was a fear of, ‘Oh, is it going to look like it’s sexist, anti-woman if we say that?’… I think we underplayed it a little bit out of political correctness fears… No member of the press corps wants to look like they’re singling out a group and making a group feel bad…. If we sort of were straight-up honest and blunt about hey do we understand the level of hatred that’s out there and you know, all the Hillary for Prison signs that are out there, we certainly would have at least made the viewer know, hey, you know, she’s not well-liked in some places in this country in ways that’s times 10 when it comes to Trump…. What do I think we did wrong in this election? The biggest thing is we didn’t tell the stories of all Americans. We told the stories of coastal Americans. And ultimately, that’s like the larger trust issue. We were more likely to do a story about the Dreamer that might get deported with new policies than we were about the 19-year-old opioid addict who feels hopeless in Rolla, Missouri. And, I’m not, I don’t pick on Rolla, Missouri, it’s, my point is that we just, we did not equally tell those stories very well, right, and, we were not, that is an out-of-touch issue.”

“Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd last week being interviewed by former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer in his “1947” podcast.

chuck-todd1. I suspect this quote, from a podcast I had never heard of before, may end up being quite famous. It should be.”Meet the Press,” by pedigree and habit if no longer on merit, is the flagship of theoretically tough, objective broadcast journalism. Its host, right here, in this quote, admits that he, his colleagues and industry, “we,” were and are biased and partisan. Equally remarkable, he didn’t seem to understand the significance of what he was saying.

This isn’t an ethical quote, for in its phrasing and the unethical mindset it reveals, it is quite horrifying. It’s an ethics quote, because it reveals something important and useful about ethics, specifically the wretched ethics and complete lack of trustworthiness that now infects most of American journalism. One should not be able to read Todd’s comments and express disapproval of the Trump administration’s hostility to the press. The news media deserves hostility.  Its conduct has forfeited the right to be believed or respected. If it could be believed or trusted, Chuck Todd wouldn’t have said this.

2. In this statement, Todd’s candor provides a smoking gun example of one of Ethics Alarms’ mantras, “Bias makes you stupid.”

3. Todd’s equivocations, euphemisms and minimizing verbiage are as provocative as they are infuriating. “Didn’t fully deliver… underplayed it a little bit …If we sort of were straight-up honest…. we certainly would have at least made the viewer know….we did not equally tell those stories very well. Todd is admitting bias and deliberate misreporting, but using Hillary Clinton’s “it wasn’t the best choice” rhetoric (Rationalization 19A, The Insidious Confession) to imply only that it was kind of, sort of, not exactly the best thing to do in retrospect. The weasel-words are as damning as what Todd is admitting to.

4. The context of Todd’s navel-gazing and that of many of his colleagues is “What did we do wrong that helped elect Donald Trump?” and not, as it should be, “How was our journalism unethical and how can we be more ethical going forward?” We already know, or should know, why Todd and his colleagues’ work was unethical: they were 100% committed to defeating Donald Trump, and just as committed to shaping the narrative of the campaign according to how the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton wanted it shaped: Hillary’s election was inevitable.

5. Todd’s statement that news reporting was shaped by “political correctness” is the smoking gun. Political correctness has no role whatsoever in ethical, competent, fair and objective reporting. Ethical journalists shouldn’t be thinking about it . The truth is never politically incorrect; progressives use political correctness to make it more difficult to convey facts that undercut their ideology and political agenda. Admitting political correctness concerns is Todd’s admission of fealty to the sensitivities and agenda of the Left and only the Left, for there is no such thing as conservative “political correctness.”

6. What Todd is saying is that they didn’t report the facts because it would upset Democrats and progressives, which are the only audience the mainstream media apparently cares about. That is its constituency. What he is saying is that the news media’s reporting was guided by the fear of being tarred—individually, by program, network and by profession—as sexist.  By logical extension, that is also an admission that its reporting the entire previous eight years was framed by the fear of being labelled racist, which the news media knew was the reflex response of Democrats, progressives and especially blacks to any criticism of Barack Obama.

7. “Coastal Americans” is a euphemism for “liberals.”

8. The  statement is stunning, depressing, but in a way refreshing. I would call Chuck Todd a hero, if it didn’t seem that his candor was more due to cluelessness than integrity. I can’t wait to hear the efforts to spin it by the enablers and deniers of news media bias, Translating through the hems and haws, what Todd was really saying was, “We intentionally distorted our news reporting to make Democrats and Hillary Clinton happy, and it didn’t work out the way we hoped it would, so obviously that was a mistake.”

9.“Bias makes you stupid,” but, as I have long suspected, Todd had a head start in that department. What a fumbling, blathering mess of a statement that quote is, displaying an inadequate mind for the position Todd holds. He is both an influential  reporter and a pundit, and no one who can’t speak plainer than this is a clear enough thinker to give opinions and analysis that deserve broadcasting. Of course, the fact that Todd is a bit dim also explains his candor to Fleischer. Todd was confessing biased reporting, and didn’t  appear to appreciate why that constitutes such a betrayal of the public trust.

10. If anyone has any idea what the heck “she’s not well-liked in some places in this country in ways that’s times 10 when it comes to Trump” is supposed to mean, let me know.


Source: Washington Times


18 thoughts on “Ethics Quote Of The Month: NBC’s “Meet The Press” Host Chuck Todd

  1. On the last point, I read it as people in the heartland did not like either candidate but those who did not like either preferred Trump. If that is what he meant, he is right. This was confirmed in the exit polls.

  2. I think I got this one, “she’s not well-liked in some places in this country in ways that’s times 10 when it comes to Trump.” If we set the liberal hate for Trump as a measure, we define it as the average of all Liberal hate, that average as a measure then becomes one. In my mind I see it the same as “a unit of power equal to 550 foot-pounds per second” is one horsepower. So most liberals can be measured as 1 Trump Hate, and I would say that D.C. Liberals may be 4 and 5 Trump Hate. What I think Chuck is saying then, that the level of hate Real ‘Mericans have for Hillary, went compared to the Liberal hate for Trump is by a factor of 10 times greater. So he’s saying that Media, wasn’t even close to using the right measure to see the magnitude of hate that Real ‘Mericans had for Hillary.

  3. I would word it simply as “In some parts of the country, the hate for Clinton is 10 times stronger than the hate for Trump in other parts of the country”. I guess with the subtext being “Because people in the heartlands are hateful bastards, unlike the more reasonable coastal Americans”.

  4. “Coastal Americans” is a euphemism for “liberals.”

    I think “liberals” might encompass anyone who wants to use the federal government for increased social spending, while “Coastal Americans” would insist on cultural altercation, as well. I’m not sure if that’s what Todd intended, but I think it’s important that the economic liberals have some name that separates them from the other group, because the groups are eventually going to have to be separated if we’re ever going to get back to a semblance of political normalcy.

  5. If they HAD interviewed regular Americans in the heartland (not just those who leaned left, but every view), they could not help but portray those with anything but the liberal mantra as, well, deplorable.

    And thus doing so would backfire, in that media bias would be verified, validated, and personally experienced by people whose neighbors know are good, decent human beings. The lying would be obvious, and the Trump (or anyone, really, who was on the other side) votes would have been greatly enhanced.

    Most people do not pay attention to politics unless and until they, themselves, or their circle are impacted. Obamacare did so, as have taxes, unfair bureaucratic rules, and the scalding hypocrisy of unequal justice for those in power versus what people KNOW would land them in jail.

    This would have amplified that effect every time an interview occurred.

  6. What Todd meant, given his mind-set and general inarticulateness is that Trump is hated 10 times as much by liberals as Hillary is by conservatives…in some parts of the country.

    • I don’t think that this is correct. If nothing else, it walks against the topic of the paragraph – that the press didn’t report how hated the Clintons are “in the heartland.” I think it’s interesting that Todd could say that “the Clintons” are hated, but when addressing Hillary specifically, he drifted off to, “…you know, she’s not well-liked…,” which is a loud echo of all the “less-than-completely-truthful” language that was used during the email investigation.

  7. I’m trying to determine where this quote fits on your apology scale: It must be a 9 or 10 as basically it is a non-apology for the massive news distortion the mainstream media engaged in.

  8. We were more likely to do a story about the Dreamer that might get deported with new policies than we were about the 19-year-old opioid addict who feels hopeless in Rolla, Missouri.

    Since we’re talking about euphemisms, this strikes me as a euphemism for “we didn’t pay enough attention to white people.” Are there no Dreamers in Rolla, Missouri?

    • The subtext being that Todd thinks the quintessential Hillary supporter is a hard-working, upbeat, brown dreamer, while the representative Trump supporter is a lazy, despairing, white heroin addict.

  9. “Meet the Press,” under the stewardship of Tim Russert, was one of the very best examples of moderated television news. Though Russert was a democrat and had worked for Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Mario Cuomo, as a reporter and moderator he did an exemplary job of holding interviewees of both parties accountable for their positions. And no one did a better job of not letting their personal politics cloud their work during the last 25 years.

    Following Russert’s untimely death in 2008, I fervently hoped that Chuck Todd would succeed him, thinking, at the time, that Todd was of a very similar cut of cloth. Unfortunately, after getting the moderator’s chair on “Meet the Press,” it quickly became apparent that Todd was NOT of the Russert mold, but of another former democratic party operative now news host, George Stephanopoulos. Whereas Russert managed to elevate his reportage and earn the trust of viewers across the political spectrum, Todd’s and Stephanopoulos’ party affiliations seem to bleed through often and undermine their role as moderator in their respective programs.

    Everyone should be concerned with state of journalism and reportage today. The last election cycle has exposed a considerable amount of cracks in its foundation and the abandonment of first principles on the part of many major news organizations. Todd’s acknowledging of ‘a’ mote in journalism’s eye is a fractional step in the right direction, but it is time to speak about the size and scope of the mote which now almost completely obscures their field of vision.

    • Well said. As I noted, I also don’t think Todd is very bright, or at least is far less so than he appears to think. Russert had throbbing intelligence…it came right through the screen.

      Meet the Press is where I’d put Megyn Kelly.

  10. Please, Jack — “political correctness” is a pejorative aimed at progressives, so strictly speaking there is not conservative quote unquote political correctness, but the right certainly fetishizes certain attitudes and gets its undies in a bunch when lines are crossed; Respecting faith, for instance. (R Reed even adopted the phrase “person of faith” to mirror “person of color” and rhetorically to demand the same respect and status.) God forbid anyone imply that a circumstance could exist in which a free market solution is not preferable to a gov’t mandated solution, or that an insight, instinct, or knowledge of someone with a 202 area code could match those of someone from what they call “The Real America.” In fact, I would argue that more deference has been given to the Trump voters by MSM than to the Clinton voters. How many times during the campaign did someone on MSNBC talk about how the frustrations and concerns of Trump’s base should be listened to? How often have you heard anyone talk about the frustrations of the Clinton voter, of whom there were more? PS Trump doesn’t care a bit about those angry voters, beyond the extent to which they will go along with his agenda. He’s an oligarch posing as a populist, and as soon as there is an analogue of that on the left who achieves power, you can bitch about media bias. The media is covering the story, which is that an incompetent won the electoral college and the seat, and he is populating his administration in a way, and enacting an agenda, that betrays his populist affectations and many of the masses who supported him. Nit-pic his critics all you want; I know you aren’t a fan: He’s more dangerous, and has already done more damage, than the folks whose critiques of him don’t pass muster with you. We are at a critical juncture. This matters to people’s lives; this is going to cost lives. Focus on what’s important.

  11. As far as the Todd quote you don’t understand goes, is think it is confusing, but that what he is trying to say is that the the hatred toward Clinton is certain areas is ten times as intense as even that toward Trump. You love to do the flip case exercise– imagine if Trump had won pop but not Electoral vote. Yes, left is out in the streets, saying “let our majority voice be heard.” Trumpsters sre on tape talking armed insurrection.

  12. Donald Trump was up-front about being a powerful businessman who wanted to help working-class Americans. When revelations (like his use of tax shelters) came out via the opposition, no one was particularly repulsed to find out that Trump had been proven to be EXACTLY what he said he was. A lot of people don’t like powerful businessmen (or egomaniacs, as Trump is both) but the difference between Trump and Clinton is that Trump, who lies often, wasn’t lying about who he WAS. Hillary, by contrast, spent years trying to cultivate a false “public identity” that had nothing to do with who she is or what she actually believes. This is far less forgivable.

    When the press failed to treat her private confessions to rich donors about needing a “public and a private position” on issues as a big deal, when they covered up her lies and harped on Trump’s…the working-class public simply abandoned the media too, along with Hillary. They decided to go with the lying, unpleasant man who was honest about who he was and who was publicly going to bat for them, over the lying, unpleasant woman who kept getting caught faking her entire persona and lying in public about what her values were.

    It’s simple really. Trump’s insecure lies about his crowd sizes, who said what when, or his business acumen are not as frightening as it is when politicians lie about what their actual agenda is, who they’re working for, or what goes on behind the scenes. Trump is a bald-faced liar, but we know why he’s lying, what he wants, and why he wants it, which is better than an all-around trickster trying to work some kind of long con for the ruling class.

    As long as Trump continues to pursue exactly the agenda that he said he would, the media will harp on details in ways that they refused to do for Democrats (like just how exactly Mexico is going to pay for the wall) and Johnny Sixpack will continue to not care as long as Trump is perceived as fighting for them. This is very self-defeating of CNN and the like, who are going to get this crazy person reelected, and get themselves (correctly) perceived by the public as being part of a Democrat-Media-Industrial complex just trying to keep power.

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