Chuck Todd reluctant to ‘ban’ election deniers from ‘Meet the Press’
“Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd said during a recent podcast interview that banning guests who support President Trump’s denial of the 2020 election results is not a good idea.
“You don’t know when somebody you think deserves to be banned is suddenly somebody that you’ve got to deal with,” the NBC and MSNBC host told Mediaite’s Aidan McLaughlin in a podcast released Thursday.
Making an absolute rule about who he invites on the show, Todd said, could break the agreement he feels he has with viewers to deliver the information they need.
“Because you may not like them, but they have the power. They’re the elected Speaker of the House or something like that,” he said.
Other Sunday show hosts have weighed in on both sides in the debate over whether interviewing people who support election fraud conspiracy theories is valuable journalism or simply gives Trump propagandists a free platform to spread their message.
In early May, Jake Tapper, the host of CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” questioned whether any of the Republicans who promote false election fraud theories should be given airtime.
“If they’re willing to lie about Joe Biden wanting to steal your hamburgers, and QAnon and the Big Lie about the election, what are they not willing to lie about?” Tapper asked. “Why should I put any of them on TV?”
However, “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace said he covers the news wherever it takes him and that banning Republican politicians amounts to grandstanding and is antithetical to journalism.
“I don’t think moral posturing goes well with news gathering,” Wallace told Politico in early June.
“There are plenty of people I would like to have on ‘Fox News Sunday’ that voted to challenge the election — House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy for one,” he added. “And I don’t have any rule about what the first question has to be. I have asked plenty of guests about voting to challenge the election and about Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.”
On his show, Todd said, election deniers can either accept that the 2020 election was legitimate or face a difficult interview.
Todd recently called out Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw (Texas) over the issue. While Crenshaw voted to certify President Biden’s win, he also backed a lawsuit challenging the election in several states.
“Why should anybody believe a word you say if the Republican Party itself doesn’t have credibility?” Todd asked Crenshaw.
Guests must accept that the election was legitimate, Todd said to McLaughlin. “And if you don’t accept the premise, yeah, it’s going to be a painful interview.”
Still, Todd has been called out for his willingness to invite election deniers on his show, especially on Twitter by people such as media professor and critic Jay Rosen, who recently highlighted Todd’s Mediate interview.
The source of Chuck Todd’s confusion:
To chronicle the power game for insiders who have to deal with the “ins” is one direction. If your mission is to inform and alert a democratic public, that’s a different direction. These are distinct practices. Not to choose is malpractice.
— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) June 19, 2021
Most of the shots leveled against him about this issue come from partisans, Todd said.
“Most of the criticism, by the way, that we in the mainstream media receive is from people who are angry we’re not biased towards their opinion,” he explained.
“But again, if you worry too much about social media, and you start to cater to the social media critics, you’re catering to 7 percent of America, and you’re catering to probably a fringe-y version,” Todd added. “I mean, it’s not just the 7 percent of America on Twitter. It’s this smaller percentage of that who think their opinions — who are so narcissistic that they think all of their opinions matter so much more than anybody else’s.”