This week as been dominated by girls, which is reflective of 2008 -- a year that has been mostly about girls. I use the politically incorrect word "girls" in an ironic sense because it used to be a pejorative, dismissive term used by many America men -- in the same category as "broads." However, the "girls" have now taken over the media and its headlines and many of the men in media are puffed-up, strutting boys, like Illinois Governor Blagojevich.
But not David Gregory, who on his second week of hosting Meet the Press, had all female guests. His main interview was with Condoleeza Rice and his panelists were Michele Norris of NPR, Erin Burnett of CNBC, Andrea Mitchell of NBC, and Carol Marin of the Chicago Sun-Times. The women were brilliant. Gregory held his own and asked intelligent, probing questions, but it was clear the women were the smartest people at the room.
I've not been a fan of Condoleeza Rice in the past, but I was dazzled by her communication skills and fluency, by her charming and confident camera presence, and by how skillfully she handled Gregory's tough questions and stayed on message. She almost had me believing the Iraq conflict had been a war of freedom that had been good for the Iraqis -- on the same week an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at President Bush.
The first question to the all-female panel was about, guess what, a woman -- Caroline Kennedy's bid for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat in New York. Michelle Norris was very smart in her discussion about bloodlines and money dominating politics today.
The next topic was about the economy and the Bernard Madoff scandal, which was handled with ease by the brainy Erin Burnett who added insight and context to the situation. Andrea Mitchell added some smart comments about the SEC's role in the mess. Mitchell may have had one too many face lifts, but she represents the new era of female reporters -- brains first. Unlike Fox News and the Fox Business Network, no bimbos are allowed on Meet the Press.
Carol Marin took the lead discussing Illinois Governor Blagojevich. She, too, was smart, informed, and insightful. All the panelists politely added insights and analysis.
I give Gregory and the Meet the Press producers credit for being gender agnostic and not saying, "Hey, we ought to put at least one man -- preferably a black man -- on the panel for balance." They didn't think about being politically correct; I'm guessing they wanted the smartest, best-informed guests, and they all happened to have been women.
This was an all-star panel that I hope might be permanent members of the Meet the Press discussion roundtable -- maybe NBC could rename the program "Gregory's Girls." But, on second thought, that doesn't really work. But what struck me is how much smarter, better informed, insightful, cordial, polite, and collegial this group was than the macho dopes and interrupting loudmouths on the O'Reilly, Hannity, and Chris Matthews' shows are.
And the week before Meet the Press, Katie Couric had her best week in almost a year on the "CBS Evening News," reaching an average of 7.4 million people. The story on The Huffington Post read: "The improvement could be a result of the positive feedback Couric received for her interview of GOP Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, during the presidential campaign. Palin fumbled on a question about which publications she read regularly, and the interview was a launching point for one of Tina Fey's 'Saturday Night Live' spoofs."
In 2008 Hillary Clinton was the first female to run for president; Sarah Palin overshadowed running mate, John McCain, only to be made notorious by another female, Tina Fey; Katie Couric gained in the ratings; Oprah dominated daytime TV; Rachel Maddow was the best talk show host/commentator on TV; and Michelle Obama became the smartest, most articulate first lady in generations, except for Hillary Clinton -- think Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, Barbara and Laura Bush. So it looks like 2008 was the year of the girls, and, except for Sarah Palin, it's about time.
And if the news media and politics are improved so much by women, it makes me wonder if we'd be in this economic mess if women had been in charge of Wall Street and the banks instead of the greedy, arrogant, riverboat-gambler males who took the economy down the tubes. What America needs now is another Margaret Thatcher, or at least some smart woman who no one with any sense would dare call a "girl."