Conservatives who really wanted to see at least a spending “haircut” for NPR or public broadcasting in the underwhelming budget deal for 2011 might have suggested at least some symbolic victory for conservatives. Here it is: Fire David Brooks as the alleged conservative or Republican “counterpoint” on PBS and NPR on Friday nights. We could hire Donald Trump to announce it from the boardroom.
Or keep him, but banish forever, for once and for all, the notion that he is a man of the Right.
After President Obama’s budget speech at George Washington University, Brooks wrote a column for The New York Times declaring: “It doesn't take a genius to see that Obama is very likely to be re-elected.” Republicans may try to reform entitlements, but “voters, even Republican voters, reject this.” Obama “hit the political sweet spot with his speech this week. He made a sincere call to reduce debt, which will please independents, but he did not specify any tough choices.”
Forget for a minute how cynical that sounds: the “genius” makes vague promises of spending reductions while in reality he delivers the greatest deficits in history – by far. Forget about the how the speech has actually played in America: his Gallup approval rating dropped to 41 percent, with a 35 percent approval from independents. The new ABC/Washington Post poll finds 55 percent disapproval of Obama from independents.
Let’s just focus on how Brooks aims to please his bosses at the New York Times – and let’s not forget his check-signers at NPR and PBS. What results is the usual rigged liberal point-and-point, instead of a point-counterpoint.
On Friday’s “All Things Considered,” NPR anchor Robert Siegel began, “David Brooks, it is still a long way until November 6th, 2012, but you effectively called the election for Barack Obama.” Brooks joked: “I'm going to sleep. It's all over.” Siegel and E.J. Dionne, the liberal half of NPR’s Friday pundit duo, laughed.
How very....grand...it all is.
There was no criticism for Obama on this panel, just talk of his mastery. Brooks also said Obama accomplished “I don't know what the trifecta plus one is -- a quad-fecta.” The NPR anchor insisted, “Oh yeah. It was a tetra-fecta.” Brooks added, “It was sort of a master stroke.”
The only sour note Brooks could sound was that Obama sounded partisan. When Dionne insisted Obama whacked Republicans without sounding angry, Brooks demurred: “He did call his opponents un-American. I mean, he did sound like Michele Bachmann at times.” That’s a liberal put-down for you: He sounds like Michele Bachmann.
Then came his weekly chat spot on the “PBS NewsHour,” where once again, Brooks bravely told the PBS executives what they wanted to hear, rehashing his column about how the Republicans are right about the sustainability of entitlements, but Obama was “absolutely right to jump all over the Republicans” and offer a “plan” full of air. Obama was masterful: “I thought, politically, he did a very effective job of demonizing the Republicans, raising the parts of their program that are very unpopular, and then appearing responsible, and maybe putting us on a path to some sort of fiscal responsibility, but not really specifying how.”
This allowed another moment of blissful journalistic levitation for the liberals. Jim Lehrer asked liberal Mark Shields: “Do you agree the president did an effective job?” Shields replied: “I think the president did a remarkable job.”
Brooks insisted, as usual, that there will be need to be shared sacrifice, from the middle class and from senior citizens, to which Lehrer replied: “But the president and Secretary Geithner on this program that same night said, look, if there is going to be deficit reduction, you’re not going to do it without raising taxes.” Brooks agreed that was “absolutely right.”
Republicans were wrong. Lehrer said the Republicans said Obama’s speech was “class warfare, that’s unfair.” Brooks replied: “Yes. And, here, I think they’re wrong. I do think we have to raise taxes on the top 1 percent. I think we have to have a big tax reform that raises revenue.... But you have got to raise revenue across more than just the rich.”
The Lehrer interview wrapped up with Brooks and Shields running down the Republican field for being an incredibly weak field of challengers to President Masterstroke.
Anyone who wonders why conservatives and Republicans are so disgusted with the tilt of public broadcasting (and its sedate, self-satisfied civility) should begin with the notion that David Brooks is “balance.” If liberals weren’t cowards who feared losing TV debates, they’d hire a real conservative to engage in some serious Friday night discussions on PBS and NPR.