The formula for the Sunday News Shows in which two talking heads from the major parties are brought on the show to debate an issue but actually a)demonstrate they are indeed artful dodgers by not responding to the question they are asked and b)have just below the surface scornful contempt for their opponent and opposing viewpoint. This, mercifully, has run its course at This Week. And the number and length of commercial interruptions are seemingly down too; but this maybe a temporary phenomenon.
Here are the 4 crucial improvements to This Week:
1)The Powerhouse Panels now lead off most shows rather than the two political talking heads. For the past 4-6 weeks, the members have been bright, well spoken, and reducing their “score points on opponents” quotient but rather advancing the discussion on a topic.
2)Moderate positions are now welcome. This is helped by removing ideologues like Ann Coulter or Newt Gingerich at his worst from the roundtable make-up.
3)George as Master of Ceremonies is letting the flow of debate go fairly freely. People in opposite camps are publicly agreeing. The interruptions by George are primarily for clarification, eliciting a view from some panel member, or to change the topic as there appears to be a topic timeline the show is sticking to.
4)This Week has made peace with Christiane Amandpour, former host, who has appeared in the Powerhouse Panel at least 3 times and helped carry the discussion very well.
Thus this Sunday Morning News show addict has something of substance to look forward to after being in the wasteland over the Presidential election cycle which is now 2 years too long. I am not certain the major networks have keyed into this fact yet.
So now the Caveats
The major networks have an impatience with news. The idea that it has to be Infotainment to get ratings and sponsors has prevailed. So This Week’s metamorphosis may be a temporary trial balloon format and ABCTV may revert to the Talking Heads format or do a CBS and make a half-hour Zombie of the show. Forked tonguers like Governors Scott Walker or Bobby Jindall may get on the panel more frequently with their only purpose being to advocate their future candidacies. George Stephanopoulos may run out of steam with Good Morning America also on his plate. Finally, I may be dead wrong. The public may value Closed Cage Political Brawling over enlightening debate much more than I. Only the Shadow knows … and he is not telling.