Pat's panel? Buchanan teamed with three reporters for MSNBC pre-debate coverage

››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan tipped the scales to the right on MSNBC's Hardball pre-debate coverage. Placed on a panel with three journalists, Buchanan, an ardently conservative pundit and a former Republican presidential candidate, attacked Senator John Kerry and predicted success for President George W. Bush in the September 30 presidential debate.

When asked by Hardball host Chris Matthews "why are we here [at the presidential debate]," all of Buchanan's fellow panelists -- Howard Fineman (Newsweek chief political correspondent and NBC News analyst), Anne E. Kornblut (Boston Globe staff writer), and Norah O'Donnell (MSNBC and NBC News political correspondent) -- impartially described the debate's purpose and import. But Buchanan used Matthews's question as an invitation to criticize Kerry and forecast a quick electoral victory for Bush.

From the September 29 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

BUCHANAN: I'm here to see history made, Chris. I think the president of the United States has an opportunity to put this race away tomorrow night if he stays on message, if he stays on the offensive and he avoids one of those moments like, you know, bring it on or something like that, showing arrogance or something. I think there's a real possibility that this election could be decided in the first half-hour or hour here tomorrow night.

[...]

BUCHANAN: I believe that John Kerry, because of his campaign and because of the attacks on Kerry and the perception that he's a Massachusetts liberal and a waffler, he has brought home almost all the conservatives and the Republicans to George Bush. John Kerry, Chris, has just, has a hellish job tomorrow night. It is difficult to figure out how he's going to succeed.

As Media Matters for America has noted, MSNBC's parent company has also had problems with panels that skew to the right. Of the last ten panels on NBC's Meet the Press that included at least one member of the media, five were similarly skewed: Conservative columnists or conservative pundits were pitted against journalists and reporters, and no progressives appeared on those panels. Further, in those ten panels, conservative media figures made ten appearances, while only one openly liberal member of the media made an appearance.

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2004 Elections
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