One of the most persistent complaints about broadcast journalism–a complaint that comes from both left and right–is the practice on shows like Meet the Press, Face the Nation, This Week, etc. of asking questions of their guests, allowing those guests to answer, and then moving on to the next question. The hosts rarely challenge even the most obvious fabrications, exaggerations and spin. They rarely follow up a question with another, deeper one.
These exercises do little more than allow politicians to pontificate. They reiterate their talking points, confident that they will not be called out. Jay Rosen has a better idea:
NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen tweeted an idea about improving the Sunday morning talk shows. He says the programs, rather than letting politicians get away with distortions, should offer an online fact check each week of exaggerations and lies. For the guests, says Rosen, the format beckons them to evade, deny, elide, demagogue and confuse, but then they pay for it later if they give into temptation and make that choice.
Something along these lines would certainly do wonders for the credibility of our increasingly feckless pundits.