All the cable news networks seek pundits willing to act like absurd political caricatures. This keeps Comedy Central in business. But it turns out Fox News is especially dumb and obvious about the practice.
Radio host Michael Smerconish went on CNN's Reliable Sources today to talk about the experience of appearing as a talking head on the various cable nets.
They all have their issues: Larry King's people wanted to introduce him as a "conservative... John McCain supporter" when in fact he's a moderate Obama man; MSNBC's David Gregory allegedly held a grudge against Smerconish for breaking some news on Hardball instead of Race for the White House.
But Fox, from the sound of things, is by far the most blunt and ham-handed in dealing with pundits. Here's an email exchange between Smerconish and a producer for Neil Cavuto:
Cavuto producer: "Wanted to see if you're available today at 4:05 for Neil's show today. The topic is on Obama and his cockiness. We're looking for someone who will say, yes, he's cocky and his cockiness will hurt him."
Smerconish: "Thanks for the clarity. I am not your man."
Cavuto producer: "What about a debate off the top on the show on whether or not Hillary is trustworthy? We have someone who says she is and we're looking for someone who says she isn't."
Clearly television new networks need to spend more time deeply examining the facts around important political questions and less time presenting staged debates on manufactured Beltway non-issues. Kind of obvious at this point.
But in the meantime, TV people, at least try not to be so conspicuous in your quest for cartoonish pontificators.