Sunday Politics Shows Designed to Suck

Paul WaldmanPaul Waldman tried to answer the question Why Do the Sunday Shows Suck So Much? over at The American Prospect.

It’s a great title for an article, but unfortunately, Waldman doesn’t really have much to say on the subject. Mostly he just grouses about how predictable it all is. A Democratic spokesman comes on and—Quelle surprise!—he spouts talking points. He suggests that the shows would be better if they used the Up with Chris Hayes model.

Hayes doesn’t bother interviewing politicians or party hacks; instead, he brings on people who know a lot about whatever issue they’ll be discussing, aren’t constrained by the need to score partisan points, and might have something interesting to say. With a little creativity, you could come up with any number of models for how to make programs that are interesting and informative.

He doesn’t say it, but what makes Up a better than average show is that Hayes will not allow people to repeat talking points. In the many months I’ve watched the show, I’ve only ever seen one person try to slip in a talking point (a Republican, of course) and he was savaged for it.

Waldman’s observation gets at the heart of what’s wrong with the Sunday shows: they equate being important with having powerful people on their shows. Asking them not to book John McCain 20 times a year is like asking Entertainment Tonight not to cover Brad and Angelina’s newest baby. It is what these shows do. And the only way they will change is if people stop watching them.

I’m doing my part.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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