With Carlson Away, Shuster Leads Liberal Love-In

October 1st, 2007 8:25 PM
Don't look for Shuster to be guest hosting "Tucker" again any time soon. -- from my column of September 26th.
Oy, was I wrong!

I had figured that David Shuster wouldn't be subbing again for Tucker Carlson after embarrassing his show, and MSNBC at large, with the tasteless "gotcha" game he sprung on Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), exploiting the death of a soldier for partisan political purposes.

But tuning to Tucker today, there was Shuster, the so-called MSNBC "correspondent."

Carlson is certainly no partisan Republican, having mentioned more than once that he didn't vote for W in 2004. Tucker is a self-described libertarian, with a guilty-pleasure penchant for much of what Ron Paul has to say. But let's respect his tendency to balance his own views by often having as his guests Dem consultant Peter Fenn and left-leaning WaPo columnist Eugene Robinson.

But what's Shuster's excuse? Tucker's absence today wasn't some last-minute event. It was the continuation of a scheduled Carlson hiatus that began last week. The producers had plenty of time to order up a conservative pundit or two to balance David's liberal views. But no. There were Fenn and Robinson as the day's pundits. And what ensured was nothing less than a liberal love-in, a predictable "you're-so-right, David" agree-a-thon.

Note the chuckles all around in the screen capture. It perfectly reflects the liberal consensus at play.

From the opposition of conservative Christian leaders to a prospective Giuliani candidacy, to brewing trouble with Iran, Rudy's cell phone call from his wife, Clarence Thomas's "60 Minutes" interview, Dem and GOP primary prospects and Newt's decision not to run, there was near-unanamity of a conventional-liberal-wisdom bent on every subject. The closest to a discordant note was Fenn's suggestion that Obama's latest fundraising numbers were better than Shuster made them out to be. To borrow NB Managing Editor Ken Shepherd's trademark expression for disinterest: "meh."

If controversy is the essence of good TV, this was video Ambien. Fair and balanced? Not hardly when Shuster hosts with this kind of monochromatically liberal panel.