MSNBC host Joshua Johnson on “Meet the Press” – 2/9/2020. Screen grab via NBC News.
That the mainstream media have long been in the tank for Democrats at all levels of government and frequently plays favorites come election time is not exactly breaking or surprising news, and hearing them admit to it is a rare thing.
But that is exactly what happened on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” program on NBC News, where host Chuck Todd had on a number of guests to talk about the state of the 2020 Democratic presidential race, including the Iowa Democratic caucus debacle, which is still ongoing and which has created deeper divisions within the Democratic party base.
In segueing from talking about the upcoming New Hampshire primary to discussing the “electability” of the Democratic candidates for president, Todd spoke with new MSNBC anchor Joshua Johnson and former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) about how all the candidates had a “fatal flaw” but that one of them was “gonna have to become the nominee.” It appeared Todd was trying to get Johnson to speculate on who he felt was the best candidate.
To that, Johnson reminded Todd and the rest of the panel of how Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and his supporters felt cheated in 2016 by the DNC and how that was playing out in 2020.
But it was his mention of the media’s role in “whipping votes” that seemed to visibly rankle Todd. Here’s what Johnson said (bolded emphasis added):
Going further, Johnson shifted to discussing what the media’s role was in 2016. “So, one of the things I’m interested in seeing in 2020 is how much we will allow Democrats to make their own choice? The story of who the party is supposed to support is not up to us, it’s up to Democrats.” In the midst of saying that, he gestured to the people sitting around the table.
Todd, who often fights the losing battle of claiming there’s no such thing as media bias in favor of Democrats, didn’t seem pleased. He gave an annoyed sounding “yeah” to Johnson’s comments and a quick glimpse of his face seemed to confirm the tone.
[Johnson] then admitted there were those in the media who found that notion uncomfortable. “It’s not comfortable. It makes it hard for us to prognosticate,” he explained. “But if there’s one thing, at least, the people I talked to came out of 2016 feeling it’s that they were told what the narrative was supposed to be and they felt like votes were kind of being whipped from the top down.”
“I don’t know who Democrats are going to pick, but I would presume they’d like to pick for themselves,” he concluded with a bit of panache.
Watch Johnson make the admission below, and Todd’s facial expressions (especially at the 4:33 mark):
Johnson is 100% right here. It is not the media’s role to decide who nominees are in any primary, nor who the eventual winner of any election should be. The media’s job is to report the news without slant and let voters do the deciding when it comes time to cast their votes.
I have to admit – before this interview I had not heard of Johnson, and as of this writing it’s unclear what show he’ll be anchoring on MSNBC (though he’s teasing it on his Twitter account). But right out of the gate, Johnson is starting to make waves on what is arguably the most liberal of all the cable news networks.
If he keeps this up, look for MSNBC’s loyal viewers (all five of them) to want to “cancel” him soon. But until then, the network that features the wacky Joy Reid, the conspiracy-theory-pushing Rachel Maddow, and the unhinged Chris Matthews might have just accidentally hired someone who on some level gets it.