Sunday shows: What you missed

Posturing pundits, simplistic answers, faux-serious men: We watch the lamest shows on TV so you don't have to

By Jim Newell
Published July 28, 2013 5:30PM (EDT)

The nation, at another turning point: Surveillance, spying, everywhere. The latest threat of government shutdown, or debt default. Egypt, a death state. The middle class in tatters. And mayoral penises, everywhere, baring themselves. Let's watch ABC's "This Week," NBC's "Meet the Press," and CBS' "Face the Nation" solve all of these things in 90 minutes.

First up is "This Week," leading the nation - nay, the world - with the globe's most important geopolitical issue, something that could turn paradigm into new paradigm, epoch into epoch: this guy in New York City who sent photos of his penis to some random gals on the internet. A correspondent gives us the update on this shameful, shameful man, the worst man of all time, barely even a "man" in the traditional sense. "We'll have more at the roundtable," Stephanopoulos says.

Now here's Glenn Greenwald from Brazil, with the gorgeous hills of Rio in the background, to weigh in on Anthony Weiner's penis. No. To talk about NSA spying. We're suffering from a bit of whiplash here. Greenwald is testifying before Congress on Wednesday. He mentions new details about the access that "low-level" NSA employees have to monitor all peoples' communications. He'll have more deets this week. Stephanopoulos asks Greenwald, hey, you talk to Snowden, is he staying in Russia or not? Greenwald's not sure, but he thinks Snowden's pretty chill just hanging out in Russia for now and letting this all work itself out.

Senators Saxby Chambliss and Dick Durbin are on now to discuss Glenzilla and the NSA. Chambliss doesn't see any problems with these here NSA programs. He was just at the NSA, he didn't see any illegal spyin'. Durbin, meanwhile, is excited about the momentum civil libertarians have following the close vote on the Amash-Conyers amendment earlier this week. What kind of reforms can you support, Chambliss? Well, Chambliss says he just loves having a healthy, open debate about this. On the other hand, he's comfortable with the tri-branch oversight over intelligence surveillance we have now, and also, remember 9/11.

What about Egypt, senators? A lot of folks dying in Egypt. Should we cut off their money? They have no real idea, beyond sending a "strong message" to the Egyptian military, in the form of a polite note to stop killing everyone. Which is fair enough. Who the hell knows?

Now onto the economy, that old dog. Stephanopoulos is asking Treasury Secretary Jack Lew whether we're "headed for a government shutdown" over (certain) congressional Republicans' latest budget demands. Jack Lew says Washington needs to not be the problem and we need to help fix the middle class and blah blah middle class. Okay, but how do you deal with House Republicans, Lew? Lew reiterates the (serious!) changes in the deficit picture over the last couple of years, while acknowledging that we still need to get "our fiscal house in order." This vague attempt to have it all from the White House is so frustrating. Lew is at once saying that the deficit outlook has gotten better, and then saying that we also need to get "our fiscal house in order." Just say that we're done with deficit reduction and stop hedging! No wonder people feel free to walk all over this White House, over stupid things.

What about the next Fed chair, Lew? Is it going to be Janet Yellen, who many people like, or Larry Summers, who no one on earth likes except maybe Tim Geithner. Lew will keep these discussions private.

Now time for the Roundtable, with George Will, Peggy Noonan, Steve Rattner, and... Katrina Vanden Heuvel. Peggy noticed that the President spoke for over an hour the other day. That "told her something." It told her that the president had no ideas. Peggy Noonan, she's a pro.

Let's see what David Gregory and the "Meet the Press" crew are saying. Oh god, Harold Ford Jr. will be on the roundtable later. We'll be sure to skip that. (We'll hatewatch it, fine.) Opening MTP: the deadliest attack in Egypt yet. John Kerry's on it, he's "monitoring" it. President Obama, meanwhile, is stuck with this bizarro focus on this "economy." Look at that, it's Jack Lew again, and again, we're not talking about the economy, we're talking about Capitol Hill budget showdowns. Well, they both involve money, right? Lew would like Congress to do its job and raise the debt ceiling, for one. Then there's thisWashington Post story about how the White House will, in Gregory's words, "go to the mat" in order to defend domestic spending programs from further cuts. Lew dodges a direct comment on the White House's political strategy. Gregory tries again by saying "go to the brink" instead of "go to the mat." This does not, amazingly, trick Jack Lew into spilling the most juicy details about his private conversations with the President of the United States about his secret plans. Now Lew is saying we've got to have a debate about "medium- and long-term" changes to key programs, not about this smaller wedge of discretionary spending. Ugh. Why either?

Live on "Face the Nation," we've got House Intel Committee chair Mike Rogers, talking about people with their legs ripped off and stuff. Mike Rogers gets a little dramatic sometimes, protecting his beloved spying programs -- one of which nearly went down in a House vote earlier this week. Bob Schieffer asks Rogers if anyone even knows what they're voting on when they vote on something like the Amash-Conyers amendment, because this fancy high-tech gizmo jumbly bumbly sure gives him a headache trying to figure it out. Rogers doesn't believe they do.

Senator Mark Udall is on for a counterpoint now. He first makes clear that he never wants 9/11 to happen again. Just so we're on the record with that. He mentions that yes, the PRISM program, as Mike Rogers alleges, has been successful in some cases. What he's concerned about is the bulk collection of Americans' phone records, which he believes "comes close" to being unconstitutional. Schieffer is just so confused right now. "We give policemen guns," he says, but that doesn't mean they're going around "shooting everyone all willy-nilly." (There's some debate about that, Bob.) Udall simply does not believe there are nearly enough safeguards in place to prevent abuse of this information. Poor old Bob just doesn't get this. Another week of reading and not understanding cell phone manuals awaits him.

Back to David Gregory, who's also talking to Mike Rogers. Do you want to kill Edward Snowden with the death penalty, Mike Rogers? Rogers says he just wants Edward Snowden to come back and lay out his case. Come on, it will be fine, Fast Eddie. We'll treat you real good.

After the break, Gregory will finally talk about Anthony Weiner's cock. And that of San Diego Mayor Bobby "Good Times" Filner, who desperately wants to get laid but goes about trying to fill that urge by sexually harassing all women. It's Sunday morning. Let's judge some sinners, before a panel.

David Axelrod has been dragged onto television to talk dick. He believes the voters of New York City want Anthony Weiner to go away. He got paid some thousands of dollars to make that observation. Maria Bartiromo, meanwhile, is a woman. David Gregory prods her to say something catty about Huma Abedin. He even shows a quote from a Maureen Dowd column about Abedin. Claw it out, girls! Bartiromo decides to talk about the economy of New York City instead, and how we need a mayor to protect her beloved financial services industry.

HAROLD FORD JUNIOR, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THESE... THESE... MEN. Bob Filner should probably "move on," he says. Finally, someone has the courage.

Axelrod says this is not about Weiner's issues with his wife, they're about his issues with the voters, who now have significant reason to question his judgment. Mike Murphy jumps in: "What ever happened to honor and shame?" Has anyone even considered this?

Ha ha ha, David Gregory literally asks the new guest, NYC mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, if Anthony Weiner is "disqualified" as a candidate. Surprisingly, as his RIVAL IN THE POLITICAL RACE, Quinn does not defend Anthony Weiner. This is really an odd scene, though. Gregory keeps pressing her about whether Weiner has "disqualified" himself, as though this is a technicality, that he's no longer eligible for the ballot, and she's an election rules official. Sure, she says. Now she's defending stop-and-frisk.

Bob Schieffer is talking about baseball, something he can really really wrap his mind around. Good for Bob. One thing at a time.

Have a good week, America. Keep your heads down and hands out of your pants.

Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

MORE FROM Jim Newell