A commercial break on Sunday’s Meet the Press on NBC featured a young man in a Charles Schwab advertisement having lunch with his father. The son challenges his father about not being able to recoup fees from his broker should an investment sour. “That’s not the way the world works,” his father responds, laughingly. The young man is easily direct in his rejoinder: “Well, the world is changing.”
Too bad the producers of Meet the Press do not know what a 30-second ad can tell them.
I am a former journalist who is marinated in the media, to quote former New York Times columnist Russell Baker. Throughout my life, I have read newspapers and watched public affairs and cable news programming in excess. But I will no longer watch Meet the Press.
I began watching the program in the black-and-white days of television at about the time I read my first political book, Teddy White’s The Making of the President, 1960 and before Lawrence Spivak hosted the show. I was in junior high school in West Texas then. Sometimes the winds of the Permian Basin would sweep away the signal from KMID in Midland and make viewing an adventure in my small town 40 miles away. Always hopeful, I would tune in before I ran off to Sunday Mass. No more.
These were the guests on Sunday’s show: Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s campaign manager; Cory Booker, senator from New Jersey; Keith Ellison, a member of Congress from Minnesota; David Brooks, NY Times columnist; Hugh Hewitt, conservative radio talk show host from California; and Katty Kay, a journalist for the British Broadcasting Corporation. Non-guests quoted by remote were David Axelrod, formerly chief political strategist for President Barack Obama; and someone named Cliff Clayton, an agricultural editor for something called DTN.
As far as Hispanics/Latinos go, I think a Hispanic/Latino woman was quoted for about three seconds in a report on voters. That was it – this, on a national television network in a country whose Hispanic/Latino population is the second largest population group and whose white population loses about one percent share of the country’s population every 18 months, more or less.
To the producers of the program, it must be really, really important to have a journalist from England tell me about my country’s politics. And how could I do without the views of DTN’s agricultural editor?
I have nothing against these people, and I am not a provincial dolt with a bad education, and I am not against globalization. I read Brooks religiously. Booker and Ellison are fine, I am sure. Hewitt is a conservative but not deplorable. And Kay is smart and intelligent.
But part of Sunday’s program was devoted to where Democrats go next after the disaster of Nov. 8. Nowhere to be seen, much less heard, was someone from the fastest-growing raw-number voter population that voted probably around 70 percent Democratic (this figure is still being determined).
I am of the age of a generation that still flinches at the use of the word damn on television, and I recoil at the social and civic coarseness that has debased society, and so I would certainly never use in this space some of the expletives people use in blogs and tweets. That is not to say they were not exploding in my mind as I watched Sunday morning.
Seriously, what is going on?
Having been a newspaper reporter, columnist, editor and member of an editorial board and having been a television producer myself and having worked in national presidential campaigns and in the Clinton and Obama administrations once I left journalism and having lived in all parts of the country, I have been around and I know why these things happen. That does not ease the surprise when I see them happening again and again.
In a way, I could be the traditional, older man in the Charles Schwab commercial not familiar with the new ways of wealth management. But I will never be as clueless as the producers of NBC’s premier political show.
Things are happening in this country within the Hispanic/Latino community that probably will determine the fate of the country. The producers have no idea on assessing how to gauge the reaction to Trump’s election – beyond reporting the usual immigrant-scared-of-being deported story. Is there a “brown” nationalism forming as a logical response to the white nationalism that is core and central to Trumpism? Are more Hispanics/Latinos buying guns? Did the 2016 election give birth to a new pan-Hispanic/Latino identity? Has a false poll narrative (that Trump got 35 percent of the Hispanic/Latino vote) already taken root to become the conventional wisdom among the media and political class and to be spouted senselessly over and over and over again for the next 20 years by the learned guests of Meet the Press?
But who would know otherwise? That the company that owns NBC owns Telemundo and that the other Spanish-language network, Univisión, airs a highly regarded news program on Sunday are not enough. Hey, guys, it is not just Hispanics/Latinos who need to know what the hell is going on, to quote the president-elect.
Instead of replaying a Saturday Night Live video that a great majority of Meet the Press viewers probably had seen already, the producers might have considered discussing how Hillary Clinton got five percentage points more of the statewide vote than Obama in Texas; how Democrats won all county-wide offices in once-Republican Harris County (Houston); and picked up four GOP seats in the lower house of the Texas Legislature — all because of the Hispanic/Latino vote. And that is only Texas.
If it’s Sunday, it is no longer Meet the Press for me.
And judging by my conversations with friends and family, I am sure I am not the only one.
Jesús (Jesse) Treviño is the former editorial page editor of The Austin American-Statesman and writes at HispanicLatino.com.