That's because, he says, guests spout prepared talking points without restraint or challenge. Recently on This Week, for instance, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley used the phrase "Swiss bank account" — a key Democratic criticism of Mitt Romney — nine times in less than 15 minutes. Host Terry Moran had to point out he had asked O'Malley about Obama's responsibility for the economy, not to attack Romney.
The interviewers say they want to give guests their say, even if it sometimes sounds "like they were reading from the same piece of paper," Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer says. "We're not trying to get people to say what they didn't mean to say, we're trying to get people to say exactly what they mean."
Change looks unlikely
Schieffer readily refers to his show as "old-fashioned," in a good way. "We are still the place where people can come, sit down and say more than the first paragraph of whatever it is they have to say," he says. Calling the shows too Beltway-focused is "ignoring what the political process is. … What are they proposing as an alternative? That these people not come on television? How else are we supposed to find out what they're all about?"
Regardless of the prevalence of talking points, Sunday shows make news. CBS' Jan Crawford reported on Face the Nation that Chief Justice John Roberts switched sides to uphold the Obama administration's health care overhaul. David Plouffe previewed the Obama campaign's attacks on Mitt Romney last October when he said on Meet the Press that Romney has "no core." And then there are the perceived gaffes, like Biden's same-sex marriage comment.
Sunday guests "make news either because you break new ground on something or you screw up," says Crowley. "Do they make news that's going to last 48 hours? No. Nobody makes news that lasts 48 hours anymore."