Freedom from Blog

Don't call it a comeback . . . .

Friday, June 13, 2008


Shocking. My immediate reaction was great sadness mixed with disbelief. Famous people die all the time, of course, and Russert, at 58, wasn't exactly the youngest. But his youthful vigor and boundless enthusiasm for the politics he covered made him seem somehow beyond age and its infirmities. There's one side of me that wonders how NBC could have devoted its entire show tonight and MSNBC its entire night to Russert's obit, as if he were Princess Di. The more sentimental side of me says he deserved it. (More than Di, at least.) You can tell that everyone on TV talking about him feels like he or she has been punched in the gut: Brokaw, Olbermann, Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell, Jack Welch.

Still, I suspect more afoot than just a tribute to a beloved colleague. The MSM has been taking a beating lately from both left and right, after decades of getting beaten only from the right had given them a bad case of Stockholm syndrome. Now nobody loves them, or even respects them much. Tim Russert was the exception. In mourning him, they mourn their own loss of confidence and self.

Russert was not immune from this trend. In some ways he was its embodiment. Cheney famously bragged about using "Timmeh" and MTP as suckers for his propaganda machine, having figured out the game. Since Russert always attacked self-contradictions, using guests' own words to hoist them, Cheney realized that either a consistent liar or a politician unashamed of his own hypocrisy while trafficking in faux gravitas could skate free. Adding to the dodge was the fact that Russert always pulled his punches for the GOP, partly in self-correction for his own Democratic past--and, likely, his ongoing Dem sympathies. Even then, thanks in large part to his intelligence and geniality, he was impossible to dislike. He also redeemed himself with me by pronouncing the Hillary campaign's death sentence several weeks back in a way that signaled the end to the remainder of the press corps. Hey, didn't we just hear about the Clintons formulating an "enemies list"? Conspiracy theorists, start your engines. Better yet, don't.


At 7:53 AM, Blogger Number Three said...

Friday, June 13th. The day the conventional wisdom died.

The health angle here is an important one: Heart attacks kill. Take better care of yourself, men.

At 10:49 AM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

Hey, 3, I hear there's a job open for tough questioners with working class roots and distinctly non-movie star looks. Sounds like someone I know. You may need to add a few pounds, though.

At 9:43 PM, Blogger Number Three said...

Isn't Steve Buscemi a movie star?


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