Sunday, April 22, 2018

Meet The -- I Say, Kid, Listen To Me When I'm Talkin' To Ya, Listen -- Press

     NBC's long-running political talk show is starting to resemble Foghorn Leghorn provoking George P. Dog in its efforts to get a rise out of the President -- who is himself as willing to do futile battle as the WB cartoon dog.

     It's a far cry from H. L. Mencken and yet we owe the Baltimore cynic for Meet The Press.  Tamara's addicted to it, so I get to hear it -- and her occasional mocking laugh or chiding words -- every Sunday.   The program began in 1945 on the Mutual (radio) network* as American Mercury Presents: Meet The Press, to promote the Mencken-founded American Mercury magazine, which Lawrence Spivak had purchased after years as its business manager.†  In 1947, General Foods bought the television rights and the TV version aired on NBC.  The radio host/producer, who served in the same role on the TV version for several years, was Martha Rountree (just in case you thought women doing serious news on TV was a recent development).

     Mr. Spivak and Ms. Rountree are long gone; American Mercury was run into the ditch -- or perhaps the sewer -- by later owners; Meet The Press soldiers on and while Chuck Todd's politics are predictable, he genuinely loves his beat and I think does a good job covering it. 

     But I am still sourly amused when they sneak up on a hot topic like a cartoon rooster carrying a gong towards a sleeping barnyard dog, and go clattering and banging away, hoping to get a storm of outraged attention.  I suppose it keeps all the participants from finding worse mischief.
* Yes, there were four radio radio networks for a long while.  Mutual was the smallest and in many ways the cheapest, but their journalism was as good as any of their competitors.  And they owed it all (or quite a bit, anyway) to the The Lone Ranger!

† If you're an SF or mystery  fan, "Mercury Press" might sound a little familiar: Spivak's company also published the highly-regarded Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in their early years.  Small world, hey?

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