We learned last week that the plug was being pulled on John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s indispensable political commentary show, “With All Due Respect.’ It aired five days a week on Bloomberg for the last two years and will be missed,
The veteran reporting team that hosted wrote the campaign narratives “Game Change” and “Double Down” about the 2008 and 2012 races and will no doubt offer us a chronicle of the just concluded circus.
They followed in the estimable footsteps of another team of reporters — Jack Germond and Jules Witcover — who did the same for four races, those of Reagan and H.W. Bush from 1980 through 1992. They were wised-up reporters who had seen it all, and their titles give a feel for their less deceived attitude — “Blue Smoke and Mirrors” and Whose Broad Stripes,” for instance.
“With All Due Respect” was crowded with the back-room boys and girls who actually commit politics and the shoe leather reporters who cover them. Halperin was calm and deftly probing, Heilemann was more antic, passionate and confrontational. Together, a perfect good cop/bad cop team to winkle out the truth from those not accustomed to telling it.
In the process, they also showed both politics and journalism to be human, all too human endeavors by pointing out the crass, stupid, crafty, absurd, self-serving, ridiculous plot twists and attitudes as they occurred daily.
Road warriors learn where all the good bars and restaurants can be found on the trail and Heilemann annually brought in his favorite gonzo oriental chef to cater a spread, Danny Bowien, born in Korea, raised in Oklahoma and these days chef for award-winning restaurants in San Francisco and New York.
The show was also not above cajoling guests into an occasional game, as when Mitt Romney was coaxed into a round of beanbag toss. The loose nature of the show could sometimes have the desired effect of loosening up guests and dislodging them from their dreary scripted answers and allowing a smidgen of humanity to peep through. Many guests persisted in being buttoned up, but some who were willing to play along came across the better for it — Lindsey Graham notably.
Fans of cult shows feel a certain pride for being in the small minority of viewers who have discovered the weird charm of the object of the their affection, to which the majority of people are immune. They also feel especially bereft when the majority rules and the suits toss their beloved show overboard.
Often the shows in question are deemed to be too odd, edgy, irreverent or unconventional to live. But the fans mourn their passing for years and years. There are still those who haven’t gotten over the loss of “Firefly,” “Twin Peaks,” “Freaks and Geeks,” “My So-Called Life,” “Dead Like Me,”
I was sorry to see “Life” with Damien Lewis and Sarah Shahi abruptly cancelled, “Terriers,” this year’s “Braindead,” and the long ago “Weekend” with Lloyd Dobyns and Linda Ellerbee.” Hell, I’m so old I miss Jack Paar and Dick Cavett. And now I add to the list the smart, funny, astute and skeptical “With All Due Respect.” May it rest in peace, and may its creators live to fight another day.