For this political junkie, “With All Due Respect,” was a keeper. But now America’s gift to the 2016 presidential campaign is slipping away. The 526th episode aired Friday — it’s last.
The hour-long confab, launched by Bloomberg News two years ago, aired Monday through Friday, hosted by reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.
At a time when TV appointment viewing is supposedly dead and underground, “With All Due Respect” was my can’t-miss-hot-date with the tube.
Bloomberg canceled the show shortly after the November election. It is an untimely demise at a tumultuous political moment. President-elect Donald J. Trump has turned American politics inside out.
“WADR,” as its acronym-addled fans call it, was not a typical talk show. It was a reporter’s show.
I chatted and mourned with veteran Chicago and Washington journalist Basil Talbott last week. It’s the one political show he’ll miss.
“I like other shows, but this is the only one that I listen to. It’s not stacked up on my DVR,” he told me. “Along with my New Yorkers and my various other magazines. I get to it.”
That’s singular praise from one of the best ever. For decades, Talbott was an acclaimed political reporter and Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times. For 25 years, Talbott, now 80 and retired, was the most frequent guest on WTTW’s long-running “Chicago Week in Review.”
“I like the fact (that) they reach into campaigns and to the practice of politics to get people who are not on other shows and who are closer to the action,” he added.
Heilemann and Halperin’s guests formed an army of pundits, political consultants, politicos, pollsters and reporters. The host, a couple of not-so-old white guys, showcased many women and people of color.
“I think that is because they are both superb reporters, and are not opinion makers,” Talbott said. “That doesn’t mean they don’t have an analysis or opinion but they don’t come to discussions with a predetermined view.”
Unlike some mousse-adorned talking heads, the “H” guys were not padlocked to the set. I often tuned in to find them hosting via satellite from a campaign event, toting fresh intelligence from the trail.
They asked questions that their guests actually answered. They extracted information and insights into politics and policy.
The show’s regular opening segment featured the duo debating the breaking news of the day, parrying over its truth and consequences. A timer minimized the blow-harding.
Halperin, the taciturn stoic in a dark suit, played it down the middle.
Heilemann, the playful one, leaned Democratic (though he’s loathe to admit it). His laptop, adorned with a batman logo, was close at hand. “Mischievous,” Talbott calls him.
“The show initially struggled to find an audience and was criticized in some quarters for being too frivolous,” the New York Times recently wrote, reporting the show’s demise.
WADR was not frivolous. It was fun. Perhaps that’s something the denizens of the Washington Beltway bubble can’t appreciate.
Like the time Heilemann and Trump’s uber-spokeswoman, Kellyanne Conway, sparred for a full 96 seconds over why Trump called rival Hillary Clinton a bigot. Conway won that round.
And when the indefatigably disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner prematurely declared Clinton the winner. “I will eat Heilemann’s shoes if this isn’t a blowout,” he said on the show in July.
I can’t wait for that one.
The “H” guys are reportedly negotiating new media opportunities. In these Trumpian times, bring them back soon.
Follow Laura Washington on Twitter: @MediaDervish