Sunday shows: What you missed

On a day of actual seriousness, the usual glib nonsense of the faux-serious Sunday shows is more apparent than ever

By Jim Newell
Published July 14, 2013 5:50PM (EDT)

George Zimmerman's not guilty verdict dropped last night and hangs over everything. But don't worry, America. The Sunday shows -- ABC's "This Week," NBC's "Meet the Press" and CBS's "Face the Nation" -- are here to distract your empty hearts with glib chatter about the usual bullshit. We're here for you.

The Zimmerman verdict is topic No. 1 on "This Week." The Martin family lawyer, Benjamin Crump, and selected others are interviewed, expressing their personal grief and that of those they represent. All very sad.

But now -- now it's time for a political panel on the Zimmerman verdict. Phew! Should the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department proceed with an investigation? White guy who edits the Wall Street Journal editorial page says no, give me a break. Tavis Smiley, however, says that this verdict is a reminder of the "contempt" that much of the country has for "black men." Back to a white guy, Dan Abrams, ha ha. Is he dying his hair, or is it his entire body that's encrusted in sparkly gold? He says "what's wrong in our society?" is a fair question to ask, but what happened in that courtroom is completely understandable. Smiley disagrees because, c'mon, Abrams, that's such a cop-out. Pierre Thomas, the ABC legal news correspondent, believes there should be a National Conversation on Race about how young black men are stereotyped. "It's 2013." Man, is it ever.

After the break: Senate gridlock and immigration and Mark Leibovich's book! Wham-bam!

Sen. Orrin Hatch, who voted for the Senate immigration bill, not only believes the House will try to make improvements on the bill, he's "counting on the House!" He would love for the House to make the bill he voted for completely insane (or more likely blow it up). It's democracy. Rep. Tom Cole believes the Senate put out a pretty good bill, but also thinks his chamber's idea of blowing up the bill into little bits of rubble or just doing nothing with it at all is also a sensible approach. We'll see, he says. We'll see.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar is making her case for the Senate bill by quoting David Brooks. Oh god, the bill really is dead. She is imploring House Republicans to look at an argument David Brooks is making.

Now onto Harry Reid's latest threats to eliminate the filibuster on executive nominations. Orrin Hatch, didn't you think blowing up the filibuster on nominations was a good idea, a few years ago? I never believed that, get out of my head, Stephanopoulos! Sen. Hatch only operates on principle, says Sen. Hatch!

Klobuchar believes that the president should have the right to put his "team" out there -- not judges, just the Team. Not changing the rights of the minority on legislation, just the Team. She's hoping the Senate can work it out in a joint conference meeting Monday night, in ye Olde Senate Chamber.

"Meet the Press" is talking about the Zimmerman verdict. Al Sharpton, MSNBC host and civil rights advocate (#ThisTown etc.), is unhappy about it. "MtP" shows a clip of President Obama saying Trayvon Martin would look like the son he never had, and Sanford Mayor Mark Triplett is asked about this. He doesn't get into the large national meta-discussion and says his top concern has always been the safety of people in Sanford.

No one really has anything new to say about this sad, sad case. Let's soothe our rotten souls by going back to ABC for the electric boom-boom panel on Mark Leibovich's hot new book about how everyone in Washington is full of shit.

Leibovich, look at him, he has Orc ears. Is he a Demon? This is a side point. Let's talk about his book. "You're creating a whole lot of conversation," Stephanopoulos, who has read the book, says. What kind of blowback have you gotten? "The blowback has been sort of weird," Leibovich says, because for the most part no one's read the book yet, which hasn't prevented anyone from having opinions. Smiley, who has not read the book (only excerpts), is most taken by how little the American people know about the coziness between Democrats and Republicans.

Maggie Haberman, the Politico reporter, is asked how she feels about this book that craps all over Politico (hilariously). With pursed lips, she says she's very proud to work at Politico, with Mike Allen, where they do a great job "driving the conversation." Eww.

On "Face the Nation," Bob Schieffer is asking Benjamin Netanyahu how close Iran is to making nuclear bombs. "Close," says Netanyahu. Very good, then.

"Meet the Press" is interviewing Harry "KILLED THE SENATE" Reid about his filibuster-death threats. It's just a lil' tweak, he says, he is not killing the Senate fer gawd's sake. (Unfortunately.) The rule changes he's proposing are "very, very minimal ... this is not judges, this is not legislation, this is allowing the people of America to have a president who can have his team in place." It's about the Team, just like Amy Klobuchar says. Doesn't anyone support the Team?

Now it's time to interview minority leader Mitch McConnell for a counterpoint. McConnell, that old pro, brings in his familiar talking point about how the Democrats are trying to "break the rules to change the rules" with the "nuclear option." McConnell is shown 2005 footage of him saying the filibuster on executive nominations should be blown up. His response is that he's glad they didn't end up doing that, even though they were facing a much more serious "provocation" at the time.

Does McConnell really believe that Harry Reid is, as he said earlier this week, in danger of being "the worst majority leader in history" if he goes through with this threat? Not if he pulls back! He calls Reid a "good leader," for now, aww.

Now onto the Obamacare implementation, and the administration's effort to publicize the law. "MtP" shows the letter that McConnell wrote to the National Football League warning it against advertising the new law. Gregory notes that his letter referred to it as a "bill," not the "law" that it is. Shouldn't people know what's in this law? McConnell says, uh, uh, well it's the Obama, uh, administration that's delaying certain parts of the law, so, uh, yeah. Should you not refer to it as the law of the land despite the fact that you disagree with it? "Well of course it's the law of the land," McConnell says, and so he's wondering why the Obama administration isn't implementing all of it. Shorter McConnell: Why isn't President Obama performing his duty to execute all of this law that I hate and would like to repeal and am constantly trying to block the government from executing?

"Face the Nation" is talkin' immigration. Rep. Mario Diaz Balart, you're Hispanic; what's going to happen with immigration in the House?? "In the House, we're going to do it right, we're going to do it methodically," he says, ha ha. They're going to end up with a great bill that solves everything and will easily pass the House with a majority of every group -- Democrats, Republicans, muppets, etc. Why so many questions? Why does no one trust the House to perform the nation's business?

Rep. Mike Kelly, on whether the House will ever pass funding for food stamps: "Oh, absolutely!" Again, why do so many people have these questions for the House? They've got everything under control.

David Gregory promises to talk about the "political reaction to the George Zimmerman verdict" next. Jesus. We'll end here.

Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

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