Sunday Morning Angst: Who to watch?

Rick Moran
Tomorrow morning Barack Obama will beard the monster in his own den and sit down for an hour long interview with Tim Russert, a man with the reputation for being relentless in his questioning of political candidates (remember his debate performance when he embarrassed Hillary about drivers licenses for illegals?).

At about the same time, old pal George Stephanopolous will have Hillary Clinton for an hour on ABC's "This Week."

The fact that the headlines coming out of these shows will be the last major ones before the primaries on Tuesday in North Carolina and Indiana makes these interviews absolutely must watch TV. But the fact that they are on at about the same time in most markets (we in Chicago will have a half hour difference between the two) will lead to an overuse of Tivo or perhaps a wearing down of the remote buttons.

The New York Times points out the sub-drama of the two titans of Sunday talk battling it out for ratings and respect:

The Russert-Stephanopoulos duel presents an intriguing rivalry, with parallel paths to the top of Sunday television. Both went from politics, where they were aides to Democratic luminaries, to the pinnacle of broadcast news, as hosts of venerated public affairs programs.

They also share something else, long and complicated relations with the Clintons that have informed fierce criticism this year - often from the echo chamber of liberal press criticism on the Internet and sometimes stoked by the campaigns - that the hosts have been shallow or unfair in some of their questioning. Mr. Stephanopoulos, who worked in the Bill Clinton White House as a top aide to Mr. Clinton, was attacked for being too hard on Mr. Obama last month in a debate.

Mr. Russert has frequently been accused of being too hard on Mrs. Clinton, including in a debate he hosted this year.

The attention has combined to make them among the more scrutinized media figures in a year when news coverage is often in the line of attack.


With both men on the hot seat as well as the candidates, expect them to try and protect their reputations as journalists and avoid too much controversy. Each will also bend over backwards to show they are not favoring one candidate or another. This may disappoint some who might wish to see Russert play the bulldog against Obama or Stephanopolous give Clinton similar treatment he meted out to Obama during the Pennsylvania debate.

It will still be fascinating to see if Obama flubs it or Hillary can't resist "exaggerating" something in her past. I think it's more important for Obama to do well than Hillary since he seems to be bleeding support profusely. A good performance - or at least if it is seen as a good performance by the press - will probably help him in North Carolina.

Personally, I am going to watch Obama. A full hour with no script might expose him for the empty suit so many of us have been saying he is for the last year.



Tomorrow morning Barack Obama will beard the monster in his own den and sit down for an hour long interview with Tim Russert, a man with the reputation for being relentless in his questioning of political candidates (remember his debate performance when he embarrassed Hillary about drivers licenses for illegals?).

At about the same time, old pal George Stephanopolous will have Hillary Clinton for an hour on ABC's "This Week."

The fact that the headlines coming out of these shows will be the last major ones before the primaries on Tuesday in North Carolina and Indiana makes these interviews absolutely must watch TV. But the fact that they are on at about the same time in most markets (we in Chicago will have a half hour difference between the two) will lead to an overuse of Tivo or perhaps a wearing down of the remote buttons.

The New York Times points out the sub-drama of the two titans of Sunday talk battling it out for ratings and respect:

The Russert-Stephanopoulos duel presents an intriguing rivalry, with parallel paths to the top of Sunday television. Both went from politics, where they were aides to Democratic luminaries, to the pinnacle of broadcast news, as hosts of venerated public affairs programs.

They also share something else, long and complicated relations with the Clintons that have informed fierce criticism this year - often from the echo chamber of liberal press criticism on the Internet and sometimes stoked by the campaigns - that the hosts have been shallow or unfair in some of their questioning. Mr. Stephanopoulos, who worked in the Bill Clinton White House as a top aide to Mr. Clinton, was attacked for being too hard on Mr. Obama last month in a debate.

Mr. Russert has frequently been accused of being too hard on Mrs. Clinton, including in a debate he hosted this year.

The attention has combined to make them among the more scrutinized media figures in a year when news coverage is often in the line of attack.


With both men on the hot seat as well as the candidates, expect them to try and protect their reputations as journalists and avoid too much controversy. Each will also bend over backwards to show they are not favoring one candidate or another. This may disappoint some who might wish to see Russert play the bulldog against Obama or Stephanopolous give Clinton similar treatment he meted out to Obama during the Pennsylvania debate.

It will still be fascinating to see if Obama flubs it or Hillary can't resist "exaggerating" something in her past. I think it's more important for Obama to do well than Hillary since he seems to be bleeding support profusely. A good performance - or at least if it is seen as a good performance by the press - will probably help him in North Carolina.

Personally, I am going to watch Obama. A full hour with no script might expose him for the empty suit so many of us have been saying he is for the last year.