Alan Suderman at Washington City Paper (10/28/10)caught NBC host David Gregory moderating an education event at a Washington hotel, where the Meet the Press host lavished praise on controversial former D.C. schools chancellor (and media darling) Michelle Rhee:
Before we begin, we have Chancellor Michelle Rhee here, and I just want to say publicly what I say privately, which is, thank you for what you’ve done, thank you for your commitment, for your leadership, for your stick-to-it-ness and for the result that you have achieved. Washington, D.C., will miss you greatly…. But your commitment to kids and to education endures, and there will be a great many people lining up to support you and your efforts.
As Suderman notes, “It’s hard to imagine he would dare say something like that publicly about any other polarizing national figure.”
An audience member posed some critical questions to Gregory about his show, chastising the host for asking too many softball questions and ignoring important issues like military spending. Gregory was having none of it:
“Sir, sir, you know what, with all due respect, I don’t know which program you’re watching because every week–I’m not going to get in a debate with you–I ask about taxes, I ask about how you pay for taxes,” Gregory said, later adding: “And by the way sir, I’ve also dedicated the program to talking about education and about reform as well.”
At this point, the man tried to interject, but Gregory wouldn’t have it:”No, sir, I get the last word here, you asked the question…. Just because people don’t listen or don’t take action behind it is not something I can directly control.”
As for Gregory’s commitment to doing shows about education “reform,” here’s a taste of how that actually works (Extra!, 9/10):
On November 15, 2009, NBC‘s Meet the Press assembled a panel featuring Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Republican leader Newt Gingrich and community activist Al Sharpton–all of whom are more or less on the same side of corporate-friendly school “reform.” An opposing view could be found in a taped soundbite from the American Federation of Teachers’ Weingarten–which was then countered with a soundbite from Rhee. All of which served as a setup for NBC host David Gregory to pose this question to Duncan: “Why should anybody believe that a Democratic president, who relies on interests like the unions who are out there organizing and who vote, why should somebody believe that he’s really going to take them on, that you are really going to take them on to force accountability?”