Norm!

Bob Somerby, Greg Sargent and Kevin Drum are on the trail of the elusive Norman Ornstein. Ornstein is a Sunday show and PBS staple in the role of serious non-partisan Congressional analyst. He and his writing partner Thomas Mann just published a book, which should mean a tour of all the usual suspects (Meet the Republicans, This Week in Conservativism, Face the GOP, etc.) Unfortunately, Norm and Tom said that the main issue in DC is Republican obstructionism, so:

“Not a single one of the Sunday shows has indicated an interest, and I do find it curious,” Ornstein told me, adding that the Op ed had well over 200,000 Facebook recommends and has been viral for weeks. “This is a level of attention for a book that we haven’t received before. You would think it would attract some attention from the Sunday shows.’

Ornstein also noted another interesting point. Their thesis takes on the media for falling into a false equivalence mindset and maintaining the pretense that both sides are equally to blame. Yet despite the frequent self-obsession of the media, even that angle has failed to generate any interest. What’s more, some reporters have privately indicated their frustration with their editorial overlords’ apparent deafness to this idea.

“The piece focused on press culpability — it would be hard to find a more sensitive issue for the media than the question of whether they’re doing their job,” Ornstein said. “We got tons of emails from some of the biggest reporters in the business, saying, `We’ve raised this in the newsroom, and editors just brush it aside.’”






70 replies
  1. 1
    Jay C says:

    Jeez Louise! He actually makes a comment like:

    “The piece focused on press culpability — it would be hard to find a more sensitive issue for the media than the question of whether they’re doing their job,”

    And then fucking wonders why no media outlets want to pick him and his partner up for the Sunday gasfests?

  2. 2
    RosiesDad says:

    You would think at the very least that they could find themselves on Bill Maher’s show.

    This goes far to reinforce the view that the #1 priority in DC is maintaining the status quo. For government and for the media. Why fix something that is already working so well for so many?

  3. 3
    LosGatosCA says:

    But Bernie Goldberg!

  4. 4
    Older_Wiser says:

    The MSM as we know is controlled by corporations. It shouldn’t be a surprise to Norm that they don’t want him and/or Mann on their corporate-sponsored hot air programs.

  5. 5
    Palli says:

    Would have been nice if Mr. Ornstein had seen some of this coming for the last 12 years.
    I still remember his rationalizing the Florida Bush vs. Gore election debacle as “fair play politics”.

    Kevin Phillips saw the road ahead and tried to shout out; he could have used some allies.
    I’m not so sure better late than never will work now.

  6. 6
    Older_Wiser says:

    @RosiesDad: Even Maher is subject to the whims of his corporate overlords.

  7. 7
    mistermix says:

    @RosiesDad: I don’t think Norm and Tom are entertaining enough for Maher’s show.

  8. 8
    amk says:

    What editors ? It’s their corporate bo$$e$ who dictate the tone and content. Editors are just post offices.

  9. 9
    c u n d gulag says:

    You can’t, or won’t, see, what you’re paid NOT to see.

    And Ornstein’s shocked, SHOCKED, that after telling the Emperor’s that they’re all running around naked, with their hoo-haw’s hanging out for all the world to see, that the Emperor’s won’t invite them to talk about their nakedness?

    Considering that about 60-75% of their guests are Conservatives/Republicans, regardless of who’s in power in DC, why is he at all surprised?

    Norm, you’ve spoiled the “both sides do it!” narrative they’ve been working on for 30+ years!
    Of course they won’t have you on!
    It’ll prove how feckin’ reckless and stupid they’ve been in making that argument.

  10. 10
    Cassidy says:

    It doesn’t fit the narrative. Why start doing their jobs when they have a horse race to sell?

  11. 11
    kc says:

    @Jay C:

    Effin Somerby winds up blaming, you got it, liberals.

  12. 12
    MattF says:

    I suppose the various editors and producers would point out that media coverage of the book would be media coverage of a book about complaints about media coverage of politics, so it’s all very meta- and insidery. Of course this misses the point that, e.g., the various Sunday panel shows have an implicit political message, despite all denials. So I can see why they don’t want to deal with that.

  13. 13
    EconWatcher says:

    How on earth does this guy (Ornstein) still have his job at AEI? Frum got fired for far, far less. He must have pictures of somebody.

  14. 14
    kay says:

    I think Ornstein is incredibly valuable because he focuses on Congress. It’s much easier to obsess on the President, so punditry obsess on the President. I always wonder if that’s gotten worse because we have this crazy worship of CEO’s, if the two things are tied. President = CEO.

    Ornstein thinks the legislative branch is as important as the executive branch. Imagine that.

    To talk about Congress, one actually has to know some Congressional history and understand process, so that might be why no one else does it.

  15. 15
    RosiesDad says:

    @mistermix: If it was my call, I wouldn’t put them on the panel; I would have them on for the pre-panel interview. When Maher often has serious (and potentially seriously boring) guests on. He had Richard C. Clarke last week, he’s had other wonks in the same spot. Mann and Ornstein would be perfect.

  16. 16
    kay says:

    Also, Ornstein has been speaking out for a while. This is from 2006, on corruption:

    The entire leadership team made sure that there was no significant ethics or lobbying reform in this Congress. They knew their majority was hanging in the balance, that the Duke Cunningham-Jack Abramoff-Tom DeLay scandal problem had not coalesced into an electoral catastrophe. The last thing they wanted was another embarrassing scandal. There is a lot to suggest that there was a systematic state of denial here, and an indifference to the possibility of a bigger problem that Foley might represent.

  17. 17
    Walker says:

    Given Jon’s inclination, I am not even sure they could get on the Daily Show. But they should get on Colbert.

  18. 18
    mai naem says:

    I am watching Morning Ho right now and they have St.Olympia of Maine on and she says you have to have 60 votes in the Senate like everyone knows. OMG, and not one person corrects her. Jeebus, I wanna throw a brick through my Teevee. And Ari Melber is absolutely worthless. The stupid beeeyotch is the one who had the obsession with the stimulus being at 800 billion and not a trillion. And then Ho is going on about all the repub senators that used to represent the northeast. Hey, ding dong, those people would all be Democrats right now.

  19. 19
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Do you think that it might be a mistake for the Media Establishment to shun Ornstein? He might become irritated and study how much the MSM is part of the problem. And he might say so publicly.

    I don’t know how much clout this guy has. Is he strong enough to fight back?

  20. 20
    Baud says:

    It will be interesting to see how Norm handles his new status as social outcast.

  21. 21
    SW says:

    Duh! The editors work for the owners. The owners are the CEO’s of multinational corporations. The rogue party they have indicted is a wholly owned mouthpiece of corporatism. Is Norm surprised that these people are not going to give him a platform to expose them for the propagandists that they are?

  22. 22
    kay says:

    I think the both sides do it coverage has been damaging in one other, substantive way. They simply don’t cover something unless there’s a Republican-Democrat equivalency. They don’t cover the actual provisions of the health care law, because there is no Republican health care reform policy or law. If they talked about the reality of health care reform, enacted, it would be exclusively Democrats. So they cover the dispute, the legal battle, because both sides are involved in that.

  23. 23
    Michael Demmons says:

    I am reading this book right now. It is excellent, and it is NOT a hit piece. Every single thing they say is well thought out, and any criticism of Democrats is deserved.

    When they pull a “both sides do it” they do it right – by saying the Democrats NEVER would have done “it” if their hands weren’t forced.

    For example, on Super PACs.

  24. 24
    Michael Demmons says:

    Not being from the US, but living here for 13 years and having followed politics from Canada, I’m glad they’ve pointed out that the Republican strategy has ALWAYS been to make government completely dysfunctional so that they could claim “throw the bums out” – making it even more dysfunctional.

  25. 25
    Scott S. says:

    They’ll never get on the Sunday shows. They’re going to have to market it in ways that bypass the talking heads. In other words, they’re going to have to do blog interviews.

  26. 26
    RalfW says:

    Our media has full-on joined the Vichy government.

    It’s quaint for Mr. Ornstein to find it “curious” that none of the Sunday shows want to touch him or his book.

    I’m pretty sure David Gregory would rather have a proctological exam live on TV than discuss the obvious collusion with the GOP.

  27. 27
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    My nym.

    Again and again and again.

    The Village MUST BE DESTROYED.

  28. 28
    kerFuFFler says:

    @Scott S.:

    They’re going to have to market it in ways that bypass the talking heads.

    I think you’re exactly right. And our part is to generate a lot of interest in this book on the internet through whatever means—-blog posts, FaceBook links, tweets and comments. If the discussion goes viral, eventually the MSM will have to pick it up just to try to counteract the argument that they are not doing their job.

    So thanks, mistermix, for getting the ball rolling!

  29. 29

    Considering the majority of voters in this country, elections are for republicans to lose and democrats to win. This prevailing notion via the white majority, is not lost on profit conscious media personnel. And you can subtract a few points for presidenting while blackety black . A case in point is todays USA/Gallup poll showing the public is more optimistic that the economy is improving. And give a majority of credit to Mitt Romney who hasn’t done anything but run his mouth since 2007. The reason is, just because, and shut up!! That’s why.

    Americans more optimistic economy is looking up, poll says

    The former Massachusetts governor gets stronger ratings than the president when it comes to handling the economy, the issue likely to drive the campaign.

  30. 30
    gbear says:

    So do you suppose that Norm will make an appearance as the interview on the Rachel Maddow show? I hope so. False equivalencies is a topic she loves to cover.

  31. 31
    RalfW says:

    David Frum (who I disagree with generally, but who seems to be not-insane) has a fairly solid opinion piece up at CNN.com as of 5/14. ~3,450 facebook ‘recommends’ so far.

    I think there needs to be some grassroots pressure to get Mann and Ornstein on these shows. The right dominates Sunday morning because they organize and make it in the TeeVee’s interest to show what people demand.

    So lets demand…it’s organizing 101.

  32. 32
    Michael Demmons says:

    @RalfW: I’m with you. When are you going to start? Let me know!

  33. 33
    RalfW says:

    @kerFuFFler:

    Yep. Just tweeted and will continue to use social media like this

    @Snowman55403 Fear fueling Republican extremism http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/14/.....index.html #cnn | Ornstein and Mann need to guest: @meetthepress @ThisWeekABC @FaceTheNation

  34. 34
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    I don’t know anyone who watches the shit sandwiches that are the Sunday morning shows. Maybe Chris Hayes will have them on.

  35. 35
    JGabriel says:

    RosiesDad:

    You would think at the very least that they could find themselves on Bill Maher’s show.

    I agree. Despite some of the observations that Maher, et.al., have to answer to the same corporate overlords as the Sunday snewzers, I think it’s time for Stewart, Colbert, and Maher to step up and give these guys some air time. You’d think Maddow* and Lawrence O’Donnell could get them some coverage too.

    (*It’s possible Maddow has given Mann & Ornstein airtime, and I just don’t know about it. I do know that Steve Benen has been talking about their book over at Rachel’s blog.)

    .

  36. 36
    EconWatcher says:

    @RalfW:

    Frum can come off as very reasonable and appealing, and he’s obviously smart, but you must always keep in mind that (1) He co-authored a book with Richard Perle(!!!) called An End to Evil, which is basically a neocon call for endless war; (2) he accused antiwar conservatives like Bob Novak of disloyalty to America when they suggested that the Iraq War was not such a good idea; (3) he was not only a speechwriter for W, but wrote a book called The Right Man (well, you can guess its contents); and (4) unlike our host, he has never apologized or even hinted that he thinks maybe he went off the deep end.

    I would really like to be able to count Frum among the good guys, because he can be so insightful and interesting. But until there’s a confession and repentance, he cannot be trusted.

  37. 37
    RalfW says:

    @kay:

    If they talked about the reality of health care reform, enacted, it would be exclusively Democrats. So they cover the dispute, the legal battle, because both sides are involved in that.

    Wow, very keen insight. It doesn’t help that policy makes these bozos brains explode or freeze. But yeah, they’d be focusing ‘too much’ on a Democratic initiative.

  38. 38
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Michael Demmons:

    I am reading this book right now. It is excellent, and it is NOT a hit piece. Every single thing they say is well thought out, and any criticism of Democrats is deserved.

    @Scott S.:

    They’re going to have to market it in ways that bypass the talking heads. In other words, they’re going to have to do blog interviews.

    Why not do this as our next Balloon Juice book club read? Invite Ornstein and/or Mann to participate — maybe not every time, but perhaps for some of the more enticing chapters?

    O/T, am somewhere in the middle of Texas. To my amazement, I found a Starbucks, first one I’ve seen in days. Should be at my destination in Phoenix by tomorrow afternoon and then can relax and unpack for a few days instead of spending all day behind the wheel. LONG drive!!

  39. 39
    Brandon says:

    So the question I have, which hasn’t seemed to be asked yet, is who the hell are these editors? How about we get some names please?

    My guess is that most of them are like this guy:
    http://www.mediabistro.com/Bil.....ofile.html

    Married to Jane Mayer and no stranger to a dinner party at the Graham’s. Former Washington Post reporter/editor for 3 decades. Then went to Politico. And most famous for the story that that started it all, ‘Is Obama a secret Muslim? Sides Differ’.
    http://www.politico.com/news/s...../7193.html

  40. 40
    Elizabelle says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    I second this! Book club!

    And buy your copy through the Balloon Juice Amazon link at top right of site.

    When are we doing it?

    Quite sure Mssrs. Ornstein and Mann would participate.

  41. 41
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    Mann or Ornstein (one of the two) was on one of the MSNBC evening shows (Maddow maybe?) yesterday. I remember seeing the segment but didn’t pay a lot of attention to it as I was already aware of the story. Still, MSNBC is only a small segment of the media market so this story is going to come to a screeching halt unless something happens to bring it to the forefront of the ‘news’. The M$M isn’t interested in this story because it runs counter to the horse race theme, the both sides do it theme and the various other themes they use to shape public opinion.

    Facts are something that our M$M propaganda outlets want nothing to do with.

  42. 42
    Deb T says:

    @mistermix:

    Maybe not entertaining enough for Maher, but this is the kind of thin Bill Moyers devotes whole shows to. Of course, that’s a small audience.

  43. 43
    What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? (formerly MarkJ) says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Another recommendation that I’m reading at present. There is Power in a Union by Philip Dray. It is an excellent and comprehensive history of the labor movement in the US. He’s definitely sympathetic to labor but doesn’t pull any punches on either side really. Maybe that topic is so 2011 though.

  44. 44

    OT

    To top off the surreality, it looks like David Brooks has found Modo’s secret stash of magic mushrooms. To make his man parts move a little.

    Normally, presidents look weak during periods of economic stagnation, overwhelmed by events. But Obama has displayed a kind of ESPN masculinity: postfeminist in his values,

    Mercy, fans self

    He has defined a version of manliness that is postboomer in policy but preboomer in manners and reticence.

    This is what you write when too long in the Ivory Tower and not enough time with your Manhattan shrink.

  45. 45
    quannlace says:

    Meanwhile, Conrad, an old Bains crony of Romney, has been on three different NPR shows this week, with his book, ‘Unintended Consequences”, arguing that income inequality is a good thing,

  46. 46
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @kay:

    I think Ornstein is incredibly valuable because he focuses on Congress. It’s much easier to obsess on the President, so punditry obsess on the President.

    To talk about Congress, one actually has to know some Congressional history and understand process, so that might be why no one else does it.

    __
    This, this, this.

  47. 47
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Liberal media.

  48. 48
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Stuck in the Funhouse:

    preboomer in manners and reticence.

    __
    Dear Coastal Elitist Bobo: we have a word for this. It is called “The Midwest”. You might want to visit it sometime. I hear they have nice salad bars.

  49. 49
    kd bart says:

    Maybe if Norm asked David Gregory to join his dance team he’d have a shot of appearing on Meet the Press.

  50. 50
    eric says:

    One issue at the core of the problem is that you dont have be an expert on anything to discuss the politics of an issue, you have to possess a sound working knowledge on a topic to discuss it and not get called out. Most MSMers are intellectual hacks, so they cannot do policy in the same way the Norm can or Krugman can. They can tell you what people at a diner in Biloxi think of rumors that Obama is a muslim. As opposed to saying that there is little dispute among non-hack economists that Keynsian spending works and that it was keynsian economic policies that got us out of the depression. Heck, I remember when there was some hack saying the opposite and that person and/or meme got on the MSM shows when it should have been cause for expulsion from serious society.

  51. 51
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @eric:

    Most MSMers are intellectual hacks, so they cannot do policy in the same way the Norm can or Krugman can.

    __
    I agree that this is a contributing factor, but if it were the core problem then we would be hearing ignorant bafflegab on the TV coming from the Left as well as from the Right. Contrary to appearances created by our news media, the Right doesn’t have a monopoly on ignorance (example: the anti-vaccine movement). But you never hear Left wing stupidity on the TV, because you never hear much of anything smart, stupid or otherwise from the Left. To me this proves that there are structural biases at work in our media which are intensely political and strongly tilted in favor of the Right.

  52. 52
    eric says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: I dont disagree about the structural biases. Chomsky and Herman laid this all out years ago. If you want to see an excellent case study in how the MSM really works, google John Perkins and his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. As someone that has published on the Mexican Financial Crises and the role of World Bank and the IMf, nothing in Perkins’ book was that shocking. Yet, you should read the hack jobs.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTbdnNgqfs8

  53. 53
    lacp says:

    @General Stuck: Hmmm. As self-defeating as the Romboid and his campaign have been, I suspect their cunning plan will be an ad like: “Mitt Romney. The economy grows when he isn’t President. Let’s keep it that way.”

  54. 54
    gaz says:

    Part of me thinks that Occupy was yelling at the wrong buildings. Occupy the lobbies of the MSM. Make it impossible NOT to report…

    Then again, they’d dismiss them as uncivil and unserious.. * shrug *

    Meh. It’s about time to dust off the rusty farm implements.

  55. 55
    bob h says:

    To their credit, NPR and the PBS Newshour have had Norm and Tom on, but treated what they had to say like something the cat brought in.

  56. 56
    Dave S. says:

    Was Ornstein a frequent guest before this? None of the linked posts indicate this, and I’m going to pull a Goldberg and bleg someone else to do the actual research for me.

  57. 57
    Kay says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    It’s a mystery to me. All of the people who say the president has too much power focus exclusively on the president. Look, the president is not going to give up power, because people don’t do that. Ever.
    But, there’s this whole other branch that could take it back, and they’re there by deliberate design. The exclusive focus on the President allows Congress to remain broken, and, incredibly, then throws fixing Congress to the President! The president gets everything! No wonder he’s unitary. We insisted!

  58. 58
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Kay:

    The exclusive focus on the President allows Congress to remain broken, and, incredibly, then throws fixing Congress to the President!

    __
    And to pile on the irony even deeper, fixing Congress is a pretty good description of the Obama admin’s approach to crafting legislation circa 2009-2011. It was almost like watching an occupational therapist working with a stroke victim.

  59. 59
    Kay says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    It was almost like watching an occupational therapist working with a stroke victim.

    I asked Sherrod Brown at a town hall meeting if he hated being in the Senate. He was surprised and (I think) really insulted, and then I felt bad, but I was genuinely curious. Oh, well. One more offended person on my daily rounds! Onward!

    He doesn’t. Hate the Senate. He thinks it’s powerful.

  60. 60
    Chris says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Sadly, the “liberal media” narrative is so deeply embedded in the public consciousness, I think even most of our voters believe it.

  61. 61
    Waynski says:

    @JGabriel: I think she has had them on. I know I saw them on one of the MSNBC shows.

  62. 62
    Ben Cisco says:

    @RalfW:

    I’m pretty sure David Gregory would rather have give a proctological exam with his tongue live on TV than discuss the obvious collusion with the GOP.

    There, teaked it.

  63. 63
    RalfW says:

    Up With Chris producer says he’s interested in Mann/Ornstein as guests:

    @jtlarsen Mann/Ornstein welcome to come to NYC to discuss their new book about the partisan divide on @UpwithChris http://wapo.st/JONlZE #uppers

    How do we help make this happen. I’m not a TV person on Sat mornings, but I hear good stuff about Up With Chris.

  64. 64
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    The Diane Rehm Show had them on May 7. All the pushback came from the callers, who sounded like some of our trolls.

  65. 65
    burnspbesq says:

    @Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937:

    I don’t know anyone who watches the shit sandwiches that are the Sunday morning shows

    You need to get out more.

  66. 66
    burnspbesq says:

    @EconWatcher:

    I would really like to be able to count Frum among the good guys, because he can be so insightful and interesting. But until there’s a confession and repentance, he cannot be trusted.

    With all due respect, that’s ridiculous. The guy either knows his shit now, or he doesn’t. The past should stay in the past. Long memories are not always an asset.

  67. 67
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? (formerly MarkJ):

    That sounds interesting and worthwhile, too. Thanks for the recommendation.

  68. 68
    liberal says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    To me this proves that there are structural biases at work in our media which are intensely political and strongly tilted in favor of the Right.

    Agreed.

    That’s one reason I don’t agree with the “They just want a horserace” angle.

    Imagine a scenario (however improbable) where someone to the left of Obama who really threatened the perogatives of the business class were neck-to-neck with the Republifascist. The horserace theory would say that the MSM would prefer it stay close so they could sell more papers/advertising. I find it extremely unlikely; ISTM what would happen is that the MSM would work, however surreptiously, for a Republifascist victory.

  69. 69
    tones says:

    Frum can never , ever be trusted after the Bush years, and if they had not crucified him for telling the truth he would still be calling every one of us traitors.
    Is he off the thorazine again btw ?
    He does look a lot better lately, that not really saying much but compared with a few months or a year ago he looked like someone with Tardive Dyskinesia … I mean literally.

  70. 70
    RalfW says:

    Two weeks after the Mann/Ornstein oped was published, it’s still the #1 most popular opinion piece at Wapo. So of course, no reason to put them on the Sunday shows…

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