D-Day Was Easier to Organize Than This Year's Political Coverage. Which Is Why Chuck Todd Has His Dream Job

Politics Magazine, November 2008 | Go to article overview

D-Day Was Easier to Organize Than This Year's Political Coverage. Which Is Why Chuck Todd Has His Dream Job


Politics: The media came under attack in the final stretch of the campaign. Do you think there's any truth to conservatives' complaints about the mainstream media?

Todd: I'm sorry, both sides cry wolf so often on media bias that 1 don't pay attention to most of their gripes. Just like a football game, the losing team is always looking for some one to blame other than their own team, so why not blame the refs? Now, if the left or right were more sophisticated about their bias claims and, say, claimed that the media is too pro-Wall Street because of proximity or too anti-gun because of geography or made serious claims that got to the heart of how a reporter, depending on their own upbringing or status in life might have a different view on certain cultural issues, they might at least make some of their claims come across as more valid.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Politics: You got a lot of criticism yourself for saying Hillary Clinton's chances were over the night of the Indiana Primary.

Todd: It was an unfair critique, but Tim was reporting what Clinton people were telling him. People keep forgetting this. Clinton people were telling me that it was over. They knew it. They had a plan, which was to keep [Obama] in single digits in North Carolina and whip his tail in Indiana. It didn't happen. They knew that was their last chance to change the dynamic of the race. And the fact is, the campaign was effectively over.

Here's the thing, though. I never get upset when campaigns rail on us publicly. It's a tactic; I get it. Go for it. Losing campaigns usually do that. Rarely do winning campaigns rail on the media. It's a fact of life. Frankly, Bush didn't rail on the media in 2004, now did he? And Bush didn't rail on the media in 2000. It should be a lesson to folks. The campaigns that worry about the media--like the coaches who worry about referees--they seem to somehow have taken their eye off the ball, which is getting votes.

Politics: It seems like we've had wall-to-wall political coverage for the past 20 months. But are there any events you had to fight to get airtime for?

Todd: I was excited that we got NBC to cover the rules committee meeting. I was pushing it. I said we should cover this event live, it's a big deal, it's probably the end of the Clinton campaign if she doesn't get her way. Nobody believed that people would watch, but people watched. Hubert Humphrey's biography was titled The Joy of Politics. Politics is fun, it's exciting, and it can be a good thing. The more people who understand it, the better. I think this election, more people are following it, more people are starting to learn the intricacies, and more people are starting to realize that the word politics isn't a bad word. And, ultimately, that's going to make for a better government--or at least a better understanding of what government does.

Politics: For people who are post-Watergate, this election cycle is the biggest story in a long time.

Todd: You always have to be careful when you think that you're involved in history You don't know. I didn't think we'd ever have an election like 1992. A genuine three-way race. A candidate not with any major party who was leading the presidential race for a good six weeks, not a small period of time. Three-way presidential debates. And the idea that Democrats would lose control of Congress? For half the people in this town, it hadn't happened in their adult lifetime. Then we impeach the president. Then, in 2000, we had basically a tie--the popular vote going one way, electoral college going another. …

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