Matt Lauer, Pious Snob

At a candidate's forum he moderated last night, Jesus Matt Lauer asked Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown would they please take down their negative ads? I guess because they were hurting the children.

This is reprehensible behavior and should be universally condemned--Lauer's, I mean. Does anyone believe his stunt was motivated by anything other than Olympian self-regard? Negative ads serve a useful purpose. They draw distinctions that help people who don't spend all day watching PBS and poring over policy papers make decisions about who to vote for. Yes, yes, some are crass. So what? Voters are grown up enough to punish candidates who overdo it. If you can't stand the televised assault, there's always Netflix.

What's far more grating, though, is Lauer's affectation, his presumption to being the Great Healer who will cleanse our coarsened political culture. (I didn't like it any better when Jon Stewart got all pious about "Crossfire.") Lauer's supposed to be a journalist, or at least a "morning journalist," which is kind of a quasi-journalist. I don't see "The Today Show" devoting serious airtime to the nightmare of California's ballot system and the damage that's done to the state.

No, better to make cheap, saintly appeals to the audience and then maybe, I don't know, the candidates will spend this last week penitently volunteering in soup kitchens, or maybe tickling each other with daisies. If I were Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman, I'd join hands across the great partisan divide, pool my vast resources, and cut a really nasty ad attacking Matt Lauer.

Presented by

Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

Just In