Look, I get it.
Despite having ball-handling skills that resemble a Caucasian clapping at a Pentecostal gospel concert; in spite of possessing the vertical leap of a Benadryl-drunk third-grader, I am often afforded the privilege of not having to wait to be picked in predominantly white pickup basketball games because of my blackness. I was a less-than-mediocre country music disc jockey, a below-average farmhand and I still don’t know how I convinced my friends to let me drive the boat at my best friend’s bachelor party. And it wasn’t a Megan Thee Stallion “drive the boat,” either. It was a boat boat.
But, even though I have accepted jobs for which I may be unqualified, none of those periods of employment involved me portraying myself as an expert. Had anyone asked if I would like to host the Country Music Awards, play point guard for the Lakers or become secretary of agriculture, I would’ve been fired on my first day at work.
Of course, I am not white.
If I were armed with the impervious infallibility of whiteness, I might get the opportunity to coach the NBA All-Star team or command the U.S. Navy. And even if I failed miserably, I would stand on the deck of a sinking aircraft carrier and declare that I was not unsuccessful, I was simply “Chuck Todd-ing it.”
Unless you have a close, personal friendship with Chris Cillizza, you don’t know anyone as bad at his job as Chuck Todd. After not graduating from college on a French horn scholarship, Todd was plucked out of obscurity by former Meet the Press host Tim Russert, who elevated the sentient slice of store-brand white bread to his eventual perch atop the most important political show on television.
And goddamn, is he bad.
That’s not just the opinion of overly critical haters. The Washington Post called Todd’s hosting of the first Democratic debate, “a particular triumph of shallowness.” After nearly three decades covering politics, Todd admitted to Rolling Stone that he was “absurdly naive” in his belief that the Trump administration wouldn’t use misinformation and propaganda. When Rudy Giuliani declared on Meet the Press that “truth isn’t truth, Todd’s only coherent rebuttal was that Giuliani’s words would “become a bad meme,” before eventually conceding that the Gargamel former mayor was right.
Todd allows conspiracy theorists to spread propaganda unimpeded. His Donald Trump interview was an exercise in how not to fact-check a liar. Then he repeated Trump’s falsehoods. Under Todd’s stewardship, Meet the Press is not so much a political show as it is a funnel for pouring unchallenged political talking points, no matter how provably wrong they are, into the public debate.
On Sunday, Todd once again displayed his proprietary brand of mediocre dimwittedness when he asked presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg why former President Barack Obama forced America into sending a white supremacist to the White House.
“Let me ask the question this way,” Chuck said, Toddly. “In the second term of the Obama presidency, what do you think they could have done differently that might have prevented the rise of Donald Trump?”
To his credit, Pete did not take the bait; instead, he regurgitated an example of the word salad that has typified his campaign—something about how the Obama administration “met the moment.” I don’t know what that means but I’m pretty sure there’s a motivational poster hanging in a Wendy’s breakroom inspiring employees to “meet the moment” next to a legal declaration informing workers that they must wash their hands before handling the rectangular patties.
“But if you look, why did we get the Donald Trump administration, in your view?” Todd continued. “And, could this have been prevented by the Obama-Biden administration, in your view?”
No one, not even a monkey that has been trained to smoke meth, is this stupid.
This idiotic question is akin to asking a slave what he could have done to prevent his master from whipping him so much. Aside from the sheer caucasity of the query, insinuating that Obama somehow fueled the documented racial resentment (pdf) disguised as “economic anxiety” contradicts all the available evidence. Obama rescued America from the brink of economic disaster, initiated protections for LGBTQ communities and engendered the adoration of world leaders. Trump has done the opposite. Obama left office with a 59 percent approval rating, a mark Trump has never approached. But here’s the stupidest part of Todd’s question:
Barack Obama didn’t run against Trump.
There is no objective reason, aside from racism or sheer stupidity, why any reasonable person would ask this question. I don’t think Chuck Todd is a rabid racist. But even if he is, most racists wouldn’t publicly say something this stupid.
Instead, I believe in giving Chuck the benefit of the doubt. If LeBron were my teammate, I’m sure I’d have to explain that I’m not trying to have my shot blocked. I am as proficient at basketball and picking cotton as Chuck Todd is at his cotton-picking political punditry. It’s not his fault that he keeps failing up.
As Hanlon’s razor explains: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”
Chuck Todd isn’t racist.
He’s just a regular, run-of-the-mill white man. Todd is just one example of the entitlements afforded to humdrum mouth-breathers who are born with the spectacular talents of growing beards, speaking in complete sentences and simply not fucking up their privilege. And America is nothing if not a perpetual promotion machine for whiteness.
And that is why Chuck Todd still exists.