Chris Jansing was the fill in moderator on Meet The Press, and without David Gregory or Chuck Todd, Republican talking points about the threat of ISIS to America were strongly challenged.
CHRIS JANSING: From your perspective, well, we’ve heard a ramping up of the rhetoric by the administration. How significant a threat is ISIS?
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI): Oh, it’s a very real threat. You saw the very barbaric behavior. And one of the problems is it’s gone unabated for nearly two years, and that draws people from Britain to across Europe, even the United States, to go and join the fight. They see that as a winning ideology, a winning strategy, and they want to be a part of it. And that’s what makes it so dangerous. They are one plane ticket away from U.S. shores. And that’s why we’re so concerned about it.
CHRIS JANSING: But we’ve heard the Pentagon say that, right now, they are not in a position to launch an attack on the United States. Is there any credible intelligence that ISIS is either planning that or has the capability to do it.
REP. MIKE ROGERS: Well, I’m going to dispute that. So we know that, and the number 2,000 of Westerners with Western passports is low. Intelligence has a very different number and it’s much higher than that. And the very fight between Al Qaeda that allowed ISIS to separate from Al Qaeda in Syria was the fact that they wanted to conduct Western-style operations….
CHRIS JANSING: But aren’t we, Congressman, significantly safer than we were on 9/11 in terms of being able to keep those kinds of threats out of the United States?
REP. MIKE ROGERS: Well, we have a better system of trying to do it, but we’re just not configured. We, the United States intelligence services and Department of Defense and administrative policy is not configured in a way to continue a tempo that allows disruption. The reason ISIS is so successful is there was nothing deterring them for years. So they recruited, they financed, they trained. All of that was happening.
And so, yes, we might be okay if we continue the posture that we’re in from a defensive posture. But remember, they get new recruits every single day. And what’s dangerous, think of this: If that’s a British citizen, we believe it was, you have somebody that was watching and participating in the whole exercise of making that video. That individual goes back home and, is again, buys one plane ticket, they’re in the United States. We may or may not know who that individual is. That’s what’s so dangerous about this, and why we can’t let them continue unabated.
CHRIS JANSING: So what do we do about it? We’ve seen what the U.K. has done, for example. They’ve been revoking passports of U.K. citizens who have gone over to Syria to fight so they can’t come back West. Obviously the president is considering a whole range of options. We already have air strikes in Iraq; questions about whether there should be air strikes in Syria. Should there, for example, be more small teams of special ops on the ground to gather more intelligence? What do we do now?
Jansing asked Rep. Rogers (R-MI) is there is any credible intelligence to back up his claim that ISIS is a plane ticket away from attacking the United States, and he never answered the question. Chris Jansing’s questioning of Rogers was very logical. She didn’t let him get away with repeating his talking points unchallenged. In a moment that has been virtually unseen since Tim Russert died, she made him defend his claims.
This is the kind of questioning that viewers want to see on Meet The Press. Jansing challenged her guest with facts. Meet The Press doesn’t need a liberal or a conservative moderator. It needs someone who is prepared and committed to not accepting talking points as answers.
Unfortunately, Chuck “challenging Republican lies isn’t my job” Todd will be taking over the program. Viewers can expect a return to the endless repetition of talking points next month. For one week, it was nice to see a journalist on a Sunday show ask questions that weren’t based on talking points and follow up the answers with deeper questions.
Real journalism made a brief return to Meet The Press. Enjoy it now, because Chuck Todd is coming in September.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association