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Russert Over Exposure?

Posted by bmac on June 16, 2008

This is an interesting take on the coverage of Tim Russert this weekend, and I have to say I agree with it.

A friend told me Sunday: “I now know more about Tim Russert than I do many members of my family.”

After Russert’s shocking death Friday at age 58, television kept serving up witnesses to his expertise, intelligence, diligence, kindness, faith, love of family, Buffalo and the Buffalo Bills. The self-indulgence was breathtaking.

On Monday’s “Today,” Matt Lauer interviewed Russert’s son, Luke. The show basically gave over the first half-hour to the Russert story. Presidential candidates aren’t questioned at such length on morning programs.

I saw Luke Russert on Today, and while I was really impressed at what an extraordinary young man he was, I thought it was a bit much.

Is the coverage professional? A lot of the comments about Russert should have been saved for the office. NBC should have approached covering Russert as the network would have any other public figure who had died. Hard to do, yes, but that should have been the goal. Instead, Russert’s colleagues used the airwaves to work through their grief. Some people will excuse that style out of sympathy, but that approach just wasn’t right.

Again, I agree, while Russert was a fine journalist, a lot of other important stuff happened this weekend.

Will journalists ask the tough questions of themselves that they ask of others? Not during grief, evidently. Brokaw hinted that Russert had his critics. Could we have heard from them? Well, no. The coverage seemed designed to put Russert on the fast track to sainthood.

Bam. There’s the upshot here, and in particular, my problem with the style of eulogising that has become the standard these days. This is the same mentality that drives people to put up giant memorials on the sites where people (usually unkown to them personally) have died, which I wrote about here.

Or even the coverage of people like Anna Nicole Smith, or Natalie Holloway.

I think in some way, this over-memorialising is a result of the breakdown of the family. People start to feel like the people on TV are their family. In the lack of support they get at home, they find solace in being devastated at someone else’s loss. It obviously fills some vacuum. In this age of more and more single moms and baby-daddies, people need to feel connected to something, a connection they don’t seem to be getting from their families.

Luke Russert seemed to be dealing with this just fine, probably because he has a strong family connection, and lot’s of support, and it speaks highly of his dad.

We should feel sympathy for Russerts’ family, but really, this is not a national tragedy, and it shouldn’t be covered as such.

Tim Russert seemed like a fine man, and his son is proof of how well he raised him, actually handling this in a much more mature way than most of the press. But I wouldn’t say he was an icon, and I found him to be more biased than anyone else on the right seems to have, and in particular, his regular segments on the Today show were p-r-e-t-t-y biased. Doesn’t mean he wasn’t a great guy personally, but I think he wore his “Meet The Press/Debate” hat, and he wore his “Today/MSNBC” hat equally. That’s just my opinion.

On a personal note, expect to see pretty light blogging here for awhile. Got a lot going on that needs tending to, that’s a lot more important than ranting on the internet, (as much as i enjoy it) and you know…..priorities. Believe it or not, this crap takes a lot of time to produce, since most of my content is original, and I try to make it as interesting as possible, so a single post sucks up about 2 or 3 hours of my day, as well as posting on DPUD, and checking and commenting on all the Moronblogs, and you can begin to see this is starting to take up too much of my time that could be better spent elsewhere, at least right now.

And you know, this shit doesn’t pay.

12 Responses to “Russert Over Exposure?”

  1. The coverage of Tim Russert’s death was often overblown, self-congratulatory and self-indulgent.

    Tim Russert was, shall we say, not a very popular while he was alive, he was routinely castigated as a Bush lapdog.

    After Russert’s shocking death Friday at age 58, television kept serving up witnesses to his expertise, intelligence, diligence, kindness, faith, love of family, Buffalo and the Buffalo Bills.

    Is the grieving process going on TV? On 06.16.2008 “Today,” Matt Lauer interviewed Russert’s son, Luke. The show basically gave over the first half-hour to the Russert story. I am shocked at the publicity tour of Tim Russert’s grieving son.

    Presidential candidates aren’t questioned at such length on morning programs. The self-indulgence was breathtaking.


    — Leland Milton Goldblatt, Ph.D. ®
    Distinguished Professor

  2. MCPO Airdale said

    This is all about “them”. Heroes die on the battlefield in Afghanistan and Iraq, win the Congressional Medal of Honor or Silver Star and how much time do the networks spend on it?

    This is just the media in self-important, self-gratification mode.


  3. Nigel said

    And you know, this shit doesn’t pay.

    Then you’re doing it wrong. According to Technorati, my blog is already worth over $37,000. I’m just waiting for the right time to sell it…

  4. bmac said

    I knew I was doing something wrong……

    Blogging is hard.

  5. justine C said

    Seems some of you are missing the point.

    This isn’t about you personally. Or even about Russert. It’s about Washington. If any of you are prone to left brained objectivity, logic, analysis or history, you already see this. If any of you were there, in any role of significance, you know.

    Washington is a media culture.

    The media is insular by nature. The media has never been democratic and never will be. It is narcissistic and all about itself. Always.

    In a media culture such as Washington, emotions are verboten among the living. They can be theatricalized for a cause, but must always be controlled – and pre-rehearsed. The living must act dead to gain credit while they live.

    There is only one outlet and that is a death. Every single outpuring of emotion gets spilled upon a death of a “club member.” It’s the rite, the ritual, the way. You save it all up for these times, these great excuses, to be human.

    Posters here: please, It has nothing to do with you. It has to do with these people inside the beltway that never get to express a dang thing.

    But there’s a shock, and then they spill. It is an untold, wacky outpouring that shocks even them.

    They cry. They expound. It is sincere for a mere split second.

    Then it stops, and they go on. Back to control.

    Stop comparing this to you, or Iraq. or anything. I understand your points, and they are valid, But you are not seeing what’s going on. If you have a shred of acceptance of the facts, you should endeavor to accept them. That’s the big picture. Here is the small one:

    I was a Clinton Staffer (Bill) and I lived this. By the way, when I moved to California, my neighbor and his son helped me carry my boxes to Mailboxes etc.

    Because I was a petite single girl and my boyfriend needed to work that day.

    Guess what father and son that was?

    I wonder if Luke remembers the curly haired girl struggling with her boxes in front of Brookville Market on Connecticut. She is still appreciative of the spontaneous moving help from you and your Dad. You saved my television! And my dinner plates. That was really nice, thanks 🙂

  6. bmac said

    Interesting comment Justine, and if what you say is true, I’m not surprised that Tim and Luke would help a damsel in distress.

    I think most of the people that read this blog and comment, get your point about Washington and the media being insular, but this was an exceptional show of vanity, even by Beltway standards, and ultimately soiled the memory of Mr. Russert simply by association. At least in my opinion.

    So, you were a Clinton staffer? What ever brought you to this little corner of the right wing blogosphere if I may ask?

  7. justine C said

    Comments re: exceptional show of vanity accepted. Yes.

    Re latter question: I was a very young Clinton Staffer. It was a timing thing. And I was of the right wing even then. This made my adventure all the more interesting. Remember that Clinton was very much a new sort of Democrat, and so were many of his people, and at my then tender age I did have hopes that he would guide his party in a somewhat rightward direction. Indicators in 1992 did say yes. Being a Californian by birth, I desired a smaller, right leaning government with a libertarian hands-off social policy – to each her own moral responsibility. I did not think I’d get it with Bill Clinton, but I thought a Republican Congress plus a Bill Presidency could have decent effect on the budget, etc.

  8. bmac said

    You weren’t one of the people that took all the “W’s” were you?

    How do you feel about Clinton in hindsight? Do you think he was a good man?

  9. justine C said

    That question is definitely worth two posts. Or five.
    I was there during the entire 1st term, so my comments will tend more toward that time.

    I think I could approach that in three ways. Your choice –
    1) Big ideas vs. actual implementation
    2) Political style (external) vs. Management Style (internal)
    3) How the office changed because of him

    Also, as a fourth topic, to state what I consider obvious having been there, the effect of his appointment of and service with the first female Vice President. Yes, I said it. We’ve already had a female in the WH.

    As a fifth? I never considered Bill a democrat. I saw him as a maverick third party, and always felt that was why Perot chose to help (indirectly) get the guy elected in 1992.

    But let me know what you want me to talk about, so I can keep the post short and sweet and relevant.

  10. bmac said

    Great, thanks for playing Justine, this could be quite interesting.
    Your format seems like a good paln, although number one I think is fairly clear to most people, but if you’d like to expound on it, feel free.

    Personally, I’m fascinated with numbers two and four, and your feelings about the first female VP.

    Don’t worry about brevity, and I could move this from comments, to a post, a kind of “Interview With A Clinton Staffer” if you feel you have a lot to say, or would be interested in fielding questions from my regular readers, could be kinda fun and interesting. It’s up to you if you’d rather keep it on the down-low, or really have some fun with this.

    Let me know what you think.

  11. justine C said

    Well, it’s definitely a new thread. Please start one.

    However, since I’ve been thoroughly uninvolved with the Clintons for almost 12 years, and I was not senior staff by any means, “interview…” would be a bit of a stretch for the thread leadoff. 🙂

    What I am is a conservative leaning woman business owner in the private sector who looked back with interest at the Bill C administration as she assessed the potential and possibility of a second (Hillary) Clinton administration.

    I’ll address two and four on the caveat that it will be my own humble opinion. 2 and 4 are quite related, by the way, which is why I suppose you asked about both.

  12. bmac said

    Cool, Give me a little while to get something up, I have to take one of my doggies to the vet, he seems to have hurt himself running, (he’s a maniac)

    I’ll probably need a couple hours if that’s ok with you, but I have some interesting takes, maybe I’ll email you some ideas/questions?

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