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Michelle Malkin vs This Week with George Stephanopoulos

August 6, 2009


After the demise of the great Tim Russert, I wandered the wasteland of Sunday news shows till I settled on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. I tried to stick with Meet The Press after Russert’s death, but Brokaw was boring and David Gregory is uptight … or something. Face the Nation is only a half hour, and the title is too much like Meet The Press. I’ll admit that though I like Bob Schieffer, he seems a little frail to me, and that makes for uncomfortable viewing.

So This Week with George Stephanopoulos it is. Stephanopoulos isn’t the exact same type of guy as Russert but he does have comparable enthusiasm, in quantity if not quality (Stephanopoulos is pixie-ish and bright-eyed; Russert leaned into every exchange and growled chummily). But all things considered, This Week is the closest thing to Russert’s MTP as of right now.

Anyway, during the “forum”, where Stephanopoulos and his guests talk about the week’s news, conservative columnist George Will usually sits to Stephanopoulos’s right – I assume to act as counterpoint to the liberal Stephanopoulos (who I don’t think shows any partisan bias, really). Now, George Will is a real nerd, and relies too much on “Cutting Taxes Will Solve This Problem” and “Government Can’t Do Anything Right” – assertions that are sometimes or partially true, but which are made impotent by Will’s boy-who-cried-wolf-act – but he’s a pretty nice guy; quiet, polite, thoughtful-seeming, at least, even when he’s not actually thoughtful.

This past Sunday he was missing. The inexplicable Michelle Malkin (Maglalang?) took Will’s place as a conservative counterpoint for Stephanopoulos, though she didn’t sit next to him. Now, I’ve seen her in brief here and there but never really paid her much attention. I got the gist enough, though, that when I saw her on This Week, I said aloud, “Why is she there?”

It turned out that she was there so that she could perform this magic trick where she takes four people – the other forum participants – each with distinct and very different faces, and by virtue merely of the words she speaks, makes them all the same, imbuing each visage with the same look of dumbfounded disbelief. Remarkable, really, to see such a variety of folks hold the exact same “holeeeee shit” expression as she spoke. And by the end they all shared a look of exhaustion and nausea.

Anyway you can watch the whole thing here, but the best part for me was the following bit. Keep in mind Malkin sounded very excited as she delivered what she seemed to think was a real zinger to Stephanopoulos, who deserved no such thing, strange and ineffective though it may have been:

MALKIN: […] And just to hammer this point about the unemployment benefits extension again, it was Larry Katz, who was a chief labor economist under the Clinton Labor Department, who came out with a study — and there are a lot of these smart economists who say this — that if you keep extending these temporary unemployment benefits, you’re just going to extend joblessness even more.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I don’t know if I follow that. You’re saying people are choosing —

MALKIN: That was a Clinton economist who said it, George!

Italics are mine. Hopefully you can tell that Malkin interpreted Stephanopoulos saying “I don’t know if I follow that” as some kind of refutation, so she interrupted him to reiterate that Larry Katz worked for the Clinton administration – just like George Stephanopoulos once did! How very tricky of her. Oh and not to mention, Katz’s position on unemployment benefits is ever-so-slightly different than the one she talks about.

So what’s my point? Malkin really offers nothing to any debate that I care to listen to. As you may have noticed, I value my special time with George Stephanopoulos and co., and her presence on This Week was irritating to me and I’m pretty sure everyone else on set with her. Malkin is a clown, but not enough of one to entertain like, say, Glenn Beck. So consider this my plea to the producers of This Week to refrain from inviting her back. If you need a female conservative commentator, have Peggy Noonan on again; her romantic meandering is actually substantive and thus greatly preferable to Michelle Malkin’s superficial jibber jabber.


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