Monday, June 16, 2008

Remembering Tim Russert

Dennis Perrin: No Moment of Silence
However personally nice or charming Tim Russert was in life is really beside the point. That's for his family and true friends to embrace. For the rest of us, or at least the minority who bothered watching "Meet The Press" with any regularity, Russert was yet another corporate gatekeeper, helping to frame permissible boundaries of debate, keeping true critics of the system far away from his glittering stage. He will be missed, not only by those swayed by his smile and Everyman persona, but especially by those seeking fresh ways to fool news consumers into thinking that a "free" exchange of ideas is taking place. There may not be another Russert waiting in the wings, but he'll be replaced easily enough, and the dominant narrative will continue unbroken, incessant chatter amid the burning bodies.

Barry Crimmins: Overkill
Russert provided a Sunday morning showcase for every official cover story disseminated by the D.C powers that be. He believed those stories just as he did when he bought the saddlesoap George W. Bush was selling about WMD's. Did you? I didn't for a second and I don't have the full resources of NBC News at my beck and call. If we wonder why it's easy for shadowy figures in Washington to steal everything that isn't bolted down and then go to work with the bolt-cutters, we need look no further than Tim Russert. Because he was easily distracted. All you had to do was bring up the Buffalo Bills or ask him who made the best corned beef sandwich on Capitol Hill and Russert would be off and running, showing off his regular guy roots as he pontificated about professional sports, greasy sandwiches or the sacrosanct status of anyone hiding behind the flag.

Marc Cooper: Requiem for Pope Russert
But what was baffling, if not downright maddening about Russert's style, was that he would inevitably pull that knock-out punch and end the encounter with an embrace rather than a roundhouse right. Just when he'd get his guest to start backtracking, dissembling and stumbling, he'd gently let him - or her--go.


Indeed, without unfailingly pulling that last punch Russert knew very well he would risk excommunication from the Inner Sanctum of the Beltway. A harder landing for his guests could dry up that most cherished of press commodities - access and kinship with the powerful.