Last month, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein wrote a piece for The Washington Post’s Outlook section that dared to suggest the unthinkable: Both parties aren’t equally to blame for what ails Washington.

They argued, and expounded on this point in their book, that the Republican Party — by allowing extremists to roam free and by wielding the filibuster to achieve government dysfunction as a political end in itself — were demonstrably more culpable than the Democrats for creating what is approaching a crisis of governance.

The op-ed has been a viral sensation online for weeks, yet neither man has been invited to the Sunday TV talk shows to discuss this thesis. As some observers have noted, these are among the most quoted people in Washington — yet this topic is suddenly too hot for these Washington-centric shows, or it has been deemed not relevant at all.

Ornstein confirmed that the book’s publisher has tried to get the authors on the Sunday shows, with no success.

“I do find it curious,” he said. “This is a level of attention for a book that we haven’t received before. You would think it would attract some attention from the Sunday shows.”

Ornstein noted another interesting point: He and Mann take on the media for falling into a false-equivalence mind-set and for maintaining the pretense that both parties are equally to blame. Yet despite the frequent self-obsession of the media, even that angle has failed to generate any interest. What’s more, Ornstein said, some reporters have privately indicated their frustration with their editorial overlords’ apparent deafness to this idea.

“The piece focused on press culpability — it would be hard to find a more sensitive issue for the media than the question of whether they’re doing their job,” Ornstein said. “We got tons of e-mails from some of the biggest reporters in the business, saying, ‘We’ve raised this in the newsroom, and editors just brush it aside.'”

Ornstein, while stressing that he wasn’t casting any blame, noted that the topic hasn’t come up on Howard Kurtz’s weekend show, which focuses on the media.

This is curious. Is “experts confirm that, yes, one side is far more to blame than the other, and journalists should say so” really too hot a topic for the Sunday shows? Is it not relevant or interesting?

Howie? Dave? Bob? George? Candy? No interest in this?


Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant, for The Washington Post.

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