Bret Baier's Panel Tilts? NPR's Brooks-and-Dionne Friday Night Chat Is Often Center vs. Left

While he skewered the "Fox News All-Stars" panel as tilted -- just conservatives and reporters from the "non-ideological" media elite -- NPR's David Folkenflik failed to consider just how his own network's All Things Considered manages with its regular Friday night political panel -- liberal E.J. Dionne of the apparently non-ideological Washington Post, and surrogate conservative David Brooks of the apparently non-ideological New York Times. Is that a balanced panel? It wasn't on Friday, one day after Folkenflik's media critique of Fox News.

To use NPR's lingo, it's one clear-cut liberal and one "non-ideological" journalist. Typically, Brooks furiously painted himself out of both partisan corners. He referred to Rep. Louise Slaughter's dreadful Republicans-are-killing-women rhetoric, and then insisted Republicans were just as atrocious. It was "incredibly demeaning for all involved. On the way over here, I was listening to C-SPAN [radio], a Democratic press conference, 'the Republicans are killing women, it’s a war on women, World War 3 on women.' The Republicans, similar rhetoric. This is going to have a very caustic effect on both parties, I think, and on trust in government." I'd hate to hear what conservatives said about liberals killing people to match Slaughter.

While Brooks was a centrist, Gergenesque milquetoast, Dionne came out swinging like a staunch liberal, disgusted that the Tea Party is having an overweening impact on the budget debate.

Maybe the president is going to run for re-election on the slogan "Capitulation we can believe in."  Yet the remarkable thing is that a lot of conservatives don’t want to take a victory. And I agree with David, this is demeaning. But what it’s really about is the extraordinary power the right wing of the Republican Party exercises over the entire party, because so many regular mainstream conservatives, forget moderates, are just petrified of primaries. Democrats are terrified of a shutdown, Speaker Boehner is terrified of the right wing. 

Norris nudged along Dionne’s line that liberals were capitulating: "Senator Schumer today, speaking of the small number of Tea Party members who are really calling the agenda here, it’s almost the flea wagging the dog – wagging the tail that’s going on to wag the dog." She wondered how Boehner would handle this test. Brooks gave Boehner credit for being a "not particularly ideological person." (The more you seem like Brooks, the more he likes you, and finds you sophisticated.)

But Dionne said this, believe it or not: "If Speaker Boehner gets say $38 billion in cuts, and avoids a shutdown, he’s a genius. Because he will have threaded the needle here. He will have used the Tea Party to get as much as he could, but held them in line to prevent them from shutting down the government." If that happened, he said the White House will need to recalibrate because they "vastly underestimated" Boehner. But given "all the concessions Democrats made," he thought if the shutdown happened, it would hurt the Republicans more.

While Brooks praised Paul Ryan's plan for getting the country "thinking long term" and discussing the Obama deficit commission's proposals, Dionne pounded Ryan as not reducing the deficit. "This is not a balanced budget plan. This is a plan to eviscerate programs for the poor...He makes Ronald Reagan look like a socialist."

Norris closed the segment by schmoozing Brooks and Dionne: "Whether or not the government shuts down, you’re both essential to us." We'd essentially like an actual conservative to battle Dionne every Friday.

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