In 'Biggest Political Moments of 2015' Chat, PBS NewsHour Pundits Can't Locate Hillary

Blame the PBS NewsHour staff for a bad headline? Online, Friday’s week-in-review pundit segment was titled “Shields and Gerson on the biggest political moments of 2015.” Nowhere in that 12-minute segment did Mark Shields and fill-in pseudoconservative Michael Gerson ever discuss Hillary Clinton. So apparently the very likely Democratic nominee didn’t have a noteworthy moment last year.

No e-mails to discuss? A new batch came out Friday. No Clinton Foundation scandals? Why no, PBS anchor Judy Woodruff had to apologize for donating to the Clinton Foundation. To be fair, Woodruff made a brief Hillary mention before the pundits spoke, but it was only touting Hillary’s fundraising totals:

JUDY WOODRUFF: We already have a little news in the presidential race, some eye-popping fund-raising totals. Hillary Clinton’s campaign reports a new record for a non-incumbent, raising $37 million for her primary bid in the past three months alone. Republican Ben Carson raised $23 million. And Ted Cruz has raised about $20 million. He has not released his official report yet.

Instead, as usual with the media, they obsessed over the Republican race and insulted the candidates. Take Mark Shields on the fading Ben Carson campaign: “Ben Carson, it comes back, that campaign has become a civil war in a leper colony.”

As one would expect from an old George W. Bush speechwriter, Gerson declared Trump’s campaign announcement “was a really terrible moment in modern Republican history.”

He added “I think it’s raising a very fundamental issue in American politics, which is, what is the meaning of authenticity? Is it this kind of, you know, offhand comment that Donald Trump engages in, or is it crafted rhetoric? Is it careful policy? Is it seriousness? And right now, we have a model, a presidential model of authenticity that means thoughtlessness.”

Shields briefly praised Bernie Sanders, then shifted back into Trump-bashing: “I have to say that Bernie Sanders — the idea that Bernie Sanders could emerge to the point where he is, with 2.5 million contributors, with, you know, actually having changed the terms of the debate for the Democratic nomination, the dialogue, I think, is a real surprise.”

To his credit, Shields described the pitfalls for Democrats – after a generic Woodruff question about what issues are shaping up for the new year:

SHIELDS: The first is the revelation in surveys, in Wall Street Journal/NBC poll in particular, that 73 percent of people want to change policies from President Obama. So, every election is either change or continuity. We’re going to continue or we’re going to go in a different direction....
That’s exactly the same number, Judy, as it was in the summer of 2007, when President Bush was in his seventh year, which, remember, 2008 was very much of a change year.

And I would say the other one is the Paris and San Bernardino, when the emphasis and the focus switched in America, which hurt Ben Carson, obviously, but switched to terrorism and sort of a fear and war on terror. And I think that helps Republicans have — who, over the past generation, are seen as better than the Democrats on national security. Whether they should be or not, they are.

If you thought you saw NBC News report its own polling number on that, think again.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis