Saturday, June 14, 2008

Meet The Press

Tim Russert was undoubtedly a good father and husband, a good friend, and a fine person. I am sure that those who knew him are upset and saddened by his death and will miss him. I, too, have lost friends and loved ones, and I feel sympathy for them.

For Tim Russert I feel nothing. I never knew him. He was a face on my television screen.

He was a face I will not miss, as I considered him an arrogant jackass.

He did not engage in an interview with the person he was facing, he played “gotcha” in a fashion to make himself appear to be smarter than his subject person. He phrased his interviews to protect those in power and to embarrass others. He lobbed softballs at those in power, and his favorite kind of question to those with lesser stature was to ask, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” and demand a yes or no answer.

In almost every deification speech aired endlessly yesterday, he was described as a “political insider and journalist” without anyone noting that the former disqualifies the latter. And political insider he certainly was. He himself admitted that any conversation he had with a person of power was confidential unless that person agreed that it was for publication - a standard that any journalist would abhor. He was Dick Cheney’s favorite mouthpiece. Any time that Cheney wanted a piece of propaganda aired, he could rely on Russert to put it on the airwaves without questioning it.

As a political debate moderator he played the his game, asking the “horserace” and “gotcha” questions instead of making an effort to extract information from the candidates that would inform potential voters as to the candidates’ positions on issues of importance to this nation. The fact the Gibson and Stephanopoulos did an even worse job doesn’t mean that Russert’s was worth the powder to blow it up.

Tim Russert demonstrated everything that has gone wrong about today’s media. The media today does not present the news, it is the show. The very name of his program illustrates that truism, Meet the Press. The star and centerpiece of that show was not the people who appeared on it for the audience to learn about them, the star and centerpiece of that show was Tim Russert. That show was an opportunity for Tim Russert to strut his stuff, and the people who came on the show were mere stage props.

I understand why MSNBC is doing five straight hours of tribute to Tim Russert. I did much the same kind of thing when my father died. I did my grieving much less publicly, but then I am not a media star. What Tim Russert was to them and what he was to me are far, far different things.

Nonetheless, for those at NBC/MSNBC - Tim, rest in peace.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:41 PM

    Tim Russert was okay, I guess, but I didn't watch much of him. I agree that many of the talking heads on TV are just that, talking heads, and usually inflated ones at that. We do not need "reality" TV for politics. we get enough fertilizer anyway from the pols themselves. I'd prefer the Joe Friday approach "just the facts, ma'am / sir" and let the people make up their own minds. The sound bite BS is crap and leads one to the blind men and the elephant scenario.