I have become a religious watcher of the Sunday morning talk show Meet the Press. I "DVR" the show and watch it when I'm up and Isabel is mellow. I enjoy Russert's unblinking questions of our major politicians, and I enjoy the roundtable commentary of the pundits who speculate on polls, campaign strategies and political stumbles.
One thing that has been bugging, me, though, is the lack of independence of the pundits Russert has on. This last Sunday he had on his usual roundtable of Bob Shrum, Mike Murphy, James Carville, and Mary Matalin. All of them have ties to some of the current candidates running for office (Carville worked for Bill Clinton; Murphy worked for John McCain). Their own current and former loyalties seem to interfere with their abilities to look squarely and evenly at the contenders. Carville, for example, loves Hillary Clinton, so when he starts to question Obama's abilities and talents, one wonders if he's not trying to help Hillary out a little by singing her praises and questioning Obama.
Indeed, the New York Times wrote an article analyzing this very issue. So, clearly, I'm not the only one bothered by this picture.
I think what worries me is that people less knowledgeable about the insiders has no idea what the allegiances and alliances of the pundits are, and so take them at their word. I wish that more was said during their introductions to highlight their relationships, and possibly to even question their assessments because of their relationships.
I don't think that they should be disqualified from being part of the pundit class, but I do think it should be clearer what their historical relationships are. That way, viewers can judge for themselves whether the pundits are being thoughtful or simply loyal.