June 16, 2008, - 1:28 pm

Not Sure Why Everyone is Shocked–Shocked!–by the Overboard Coverage of Saint Tim Russert

By Debbie Schlussel
I’m not sure why everyone is so surprised that the media elevates one of their own–who did an okay job, but nothing heroic–to hero status. The minute I heard, on Friday, that “Meet The Press” host Tim Russert died, I knew that we would be in for non-stop, around-the-clock, overboard coverage. The media’s sense of priorities on who is important has always been out of whack and his death is yet another notch on that ill-advised priority list.


We saw this with Princess Diana. But what did she ever do? She was a glorified high school drop-out who whined about her husband’s true love (which she knew at the time of her marriage wasn’t her, but dove in anyway because, hey, she’d be a Princess, get cool dresses and party invites, and possibly give birth to England’s next spoiled figurehead king). Then, she slept with everyone, too. That was her “achievement.” Yet, she was beatified with non-stop around-the-clock coverage on TV. It nauseated me. And it’s still nauseating because more than eleven years, later, we still can’t hear the end of it from the Fayed clan (who see an anti-Islamic conspiracy amidst a British Royal family which can’t stop kissing the butts of Muslims).
We saw it with John F. Kennedy, Jr. and his wife Caroline. But what did they ever do? He was the vastly over-glorified playboy son of a vastly over-glorified adulterous President who risked our national security to sleep around with Russian spy and mob chicks. She was a wannabe-model who became a publicist for Calvin Klein and married him and dug the gold. Wall to wall coverage about this fortunate son of fraudulent Camelot who did nothing of note but live the good life. Not heroic.
We saw it with so many others who died earlier than we expected, but right on time in G-d’s plan. And none of these people–while not necessarily bad people–were heroes. None were saints. None really did anything to make America a better place.
Yet, they met the obsession of the people in Washington and New York bureaus who decide what you will watch . . . if you choose to populate your mind with this mindless garbage, instead of opting out to a DVD, the Internet, helping people in some way, or–horror of horrors–fresh air and the outdoors.
And that’s what we got with Tim Russert. Yes, he possibly gave slightly more in his interviews than anything JFK, Jr. or Princess Diana ever did. And he was semi-decent at what he did, hardly the greatest or even one of “the greats.” But he is one of “them“–one of the elite media, so he is far more important than anyone. Far more important than our heroic soldiers who’ve given their lives in battle, far more important than scientists who’ve discovered cures for fatal diseases. In hosting a Sunday talk show, he somehow contributed more to this country than they did? In the media’s eyes, yup.
Not a bad guy, but if anything, he was over-rated, and he certainly was far tougher on Israeli leaders in his interviews than he was on Arab Muslim ones. And he had his blatant guffaws and foot-in-mouth incidents, something no-one seems to remember. There really needs to be some balance in the sycophantic coverage, and there wasn’t. Just like with Peter Jennings, when he–St. Peter of “Palestine”–died. The mindless groupthink gushing is annoying.
And if NBC thought so highly of this man, then why–one wonders–did the network prominently include known plagiarist, Mike Barnicle, on Sunday’s non-stop, gushing tribute? Not sure what the message of that was.
Did you forget the clip of when Russert used a metaphor with Senator Bob Kerrey, asking him, “Aren’t you concerned that if you cut a deal with Republicans, President Clinton will saw your limb off?” Kerrey is already an amputee, having lost one leg in the Vietnam War, something everyone–and presumably Saint Tim of Russert–knew. It was remarkably obtuse and insensitive. Anyone right of center would never have gotten away with that.
And, of course, there is that time that Russert–supposedly an “impartial” journalist (who formerly worked exclusively for liberal Democrats)–took $20,000 from the American Banking Association to do an interview with Bob Dole, and yet didn’t want to answer “Meet the Press”-esque questions about it. Watch the video of that below.

Another Russert interview that comes to mind was his interview with former CIA Bin Laden analyst Michael Scheuer. Russert threw Scheuer–a regular on the Islamist, anti-Israel speaking circuit–repeated softballs, without even one critical question. While Scheuer went on to criticize our policy toward Israel, and parrot the Bin Laden line that we wouldn’t have been attacked if only we’d changed our Mid-East foreign policy, Russert never once challenged that absurdity. Nor did he point out that Scheuer was fired from the Bin Laden unit and failed to take seriously the Bin Laden threat, while he now claims otherwise. It was yet another example of how Tim Russert was very selective in when he chose to be incisive in his interviews and when he chose to let propaganda go forth without challenge.
The fact is that Tim Russert was an okay and decent journalist, which is very rare these days. But it’s still an expected benchmark, the reaching of which is not heroic. Far from it. A basically good interviewer, but he wasn’t a saint, and he certainly wasn’t on the list of great journalists. Yes, he was above average. But above average for his profession, which is like being above average in the used car salesman industry (which is rated about the same as journalists). And certainly not round-the-clock coverage-worthy.
And the coverage continues today.
Nice guy, I’m sure. And I’m sorry he died such an untimely, sudden death. I feel bad for his immediate family. But he was a talk show host. Not Patton or Albert Schweitzer. Enough, already.
Perspective is important. But in this case, it was thrown out the window.
Please don’t send me e-mail or post comments about how I haven’t even waited until Russert’s body was cold. The story is in the news NOW. Not a month from now, when it will be old, or a year from now. My apologies for not having read the official “Hands off people until [x amount of time] after they die” memo.
**** UPDATE: Read The Cassandra Page’s excellent commentary on this. Cassandra Page has a long list of Tim Russert’s displays of “objectivity” that weren’t so “objective.”
**** UPDATE #2: A reader from Ireland writes that he is sick of the coverage even on the Emerald Isle, the land of Russert’s heritage:

God Bless you,
I live in Ireland and was sick and tired of hearing about this human–by way of FOX. Any death is sad, but this was not Mother Theresa. While talking to friends in the US, we all agreed: how much B.S can we put up with?
This man was nice and professional, but pray tell us why all this adulation? Why more important than the death of a Police Officer or your Great Military Men and Women?

Good question. The answer is that they–the liberal media–are more important than any of the true great ones in history . . . in their minds (and reflective coverage).

43 Responses

Deb, when Ted Kennedy’s cancer diagnosis was made public, the conservative bloggers tried to out-do each other in wishing him well. It wasn’t uncommon to see posts referring to: ‘that poor man’…’I hope he recovers’….’He’s a tough old guy, he can hopefully beat this’….’my thoughts and prayers are with him’…and on and on. It was as if there was an ‘I can be more forgiving than you’ contest.
When I mentioned Chappaquiddick in my post, you’d have thought I’d wished him a painful death, and my post was removed.
The saint-like praise of Tim Russert surprises me not.

guitarguy on June 16, 2008 at 2:31 pm

He was a mediocre interviewer who seemed like a decent family man. The amount of coverage was ridiculous. I’m glad you brought up Princess Diana. Mother Theresa died a few days after Princess Diana died and received exponentially less coverage. As you said, we need perspective in who we choose as our heroes. Personally, I’ll pick my father

Allen on June 16, 2008 at 3:02 pm

I never heard of Tim Russert until he died. But, after reading about him, I feel the coverage on him was too extensive and just turned on Season 6 Simpsons DVDs.
I’d prefer a regular interview of the soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan and everyday unspoken heroes who save others and their countries, sometimes risking their lives and even giving them. Unfortunately, the MSM wants glamorous news – about “royalties” and washed out singers/celebrities – so I won’t expect to see the real heroes on TV often.

anonymous twit on June 16, 2008 at 3:06 pm

Marry me, Debbie!!
OK, seriously, bravo! I think you are about the only conservative voice these days willing to stand up and say the truth instead of minlessly spouting some party line.
Forget all these stupid PC media that wants to tell us what to think and how to act. Viva freedom.
I’m sure Russert was a decent guy and no disrespect to his death, but goodness gracious, it’s not like he was that important to the big picture. I know who he was, but what did he ever do that was so important that put him above others?
While I’m at it, forget Oprah, forget Dr. Phil, forget telling me I have to worship Tiger Woods, and forget telling me UT women’s coach Pat Summitt is on a level with John Wooden or other great men coaches! (This coming from someone who went to the same high school, but not at the same time, as her, Cheatham County High School).
Forget idiotic Al Gore and all the stupid hippies who brought on these high gas prices, forget stupid cows like Rachael Ray, forget that tard Sex and the City movie and the limp wrists and stupid broads who like it, and forget a gay show with tard names like McDreamy and McSteamy which is utterly McTarded.
Viva Debbie Schlussel! And, viva freedom.

Jeff_W on June 16, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Oh yeah, and forget all these so called conservatives who go all soft and teary eyed over Ted Kennedy, Russert, Jennings, and the others so they won’t appear “mean” or, gasp, like a conservative because they are scared of the sheep media.
I wish no harm or ill will on any liberal, but Ted Kennedy’s health will never erase Chappaquiddick and a million other terrible laws he helped usher in.

Jeff_W on June 16, 2008 at 3:36 pm

Excellent! I’ve been wondering when somebody with chutzpah would speak the plain truth. I bet a sixpack that you’d be first, so thanks for the treats. Wish I could share them with you but it’s a long reach from NC 🙂

Frank Laughter on June 16, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Russert was a jerk.
I can remember when the Lewinsky scandal first broke. Russert kept on asking her first lawyer (I think his name was William Ginsburg) if he was actually representing her because if Clinton were to be impeached there may not be someone as Pro Israel as Clinton in the White House.
If I had been the lawyer been Ginsburg and was asked those questions Russert would have needed some major dental work.

I_am_me on June 16, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Thank you Debbie, you wrote what many people were probably thinking, but were too afraid to say, for fear of being called mean or spiteful. I feel badly for his family, but truth be told, I never did like Russert.

Rocky on June 16, 2008 at 3:48 pm

Sorry the guy passed away…but…c’mon… All I heard was about how much he “prepared” for the interviews…reading everything…blah blah blah.
Geez, just wait until Castro is proven dead; can you imagine the emesis?
Oh, BTW, F Teddy K.
So called “conservatives”= Democans in Republicrat clothing.

Nuggler on June 16, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Amen! Debbie.
The lame stream media whack jobs are constantly elevating themselves, and giving themselves never ending awards because, gee, we won’t do it for them! They are no better than the hollywierdos who also never stop their unending award shows for those idiots they call actors! and who do these awards go to?
People like al-Gore for the crockumentary “An inconvenient Truth” (?). The truth being, “This is to gonna make me a lot of money (greenbacks) from those other idiots” called eco-whackos who also spend alot of time giving each other awards!
I wish I had that much time to be useful idiots & dhimmis like these fools! NOT!

NC on June 16, 2008 at 4:02 pm

I agree with many of the other comments. I found it sickening all weekend to hear the garbage about Russert. I expected it from the liberals, and it is kind of a litmus test to tell the phony from the real conservatives. I was disppointed that a couple of blogs I usually respect also gushed over him, & was waiting for your posts today in the hope & expectation that you would tell the truth about him.
He was a nice guy, and I regret his death, but let’s face it, he always stacked him programs & comments against the conservatives, maybe not as much as some of the others, but is falling down 8 flights of stairs much better than falling down 10?
You said the things that needed to be said.

c f on June 16, 2008 at 4:31 pm

Count me in. It is like a damn sickness.
Just look at me I am so compassionate. No, I am more compassionate then you. Oh, no I am the most compassionate.
He was a good family man? So was my dad. He was good at what he did? So was my dad. We can only hope the majority of the TV MSM will go the way of the newspaper MSM. The sooner the better. For the most part TV is an insidious evil of our society.
Jeff W. I agree. Enough already.

AlturaCt on June 16, 2008 at 4:34 pm

One can always count on Debbie Schlussel to speak ill of the dead.
Because it’s necessary, right Debbie?

Audacious on June 16, 2008 at 4:39 pm

Your comment “he was an okay and decent journalist which is RARE these days” is why he was given the 3-4 day 24 hour news love fest.
The only person who could replace St. Russert is a modern day Edward Murrow. Wonder if MSNBC has anybody like that?

sandy on June 16, 2008 at 5:05 pm

You’re right, AlturaCt, it is a sickness.
Mourning sickness.

mplumb on June 16, 2008 at 5:22 pm

Thank goodness I do not watch TV anymore, otherwise I would have been upset and nauseated too. These news people have such false high regard for themselves, it is preposterous. If they are so important and so revered, why are they not earning that honor. They are doing nothing to enlighten their viewers about the real issues that are facing us today. I am sick of their deceipt and cowardice. They are not heroes. Only heroes deserve coverage like what he received in the news media. And he was no hero by any stretch of the meaning of the term.

norman on June 16, 2008 at 5:40 pm

Mr. Russert was a schmuck?
Ms. Schlussel, you are a despicable woman and a contemptible smear merchant who has little to no regard for common decency. The ill will you espouse will no doubt come back to haunt your empty, loveless life.

Audacious on June 16, 2008 at 5:45 pm

The cruelty and aggression we see throughout the world is only possible when we de-humanize our fellow beings. When they cease to exist as real, feeling beings then we can kill and abuse them. The key is to see others as living beings just like ourselves. When we see them as real, feeling people and listen to their stories, we cannot harm them.
You Ms. Schlussel are a peddler of hate and bigotry.
There is nothing wrong with negativity per-se; the problem is that we never see it, we never honor it, we never look into its heart. We don’t taste our negativity, smell it, get to know it.
Instead, we are always trying to get rid of it by punching someone in the face, by slandering someone, by punishing ourselves, or by repressing our feelings. In between repression and acting out, however, there is something wise and profound and timeless. If we just try to get rid of negative feelings, we don’t realize that those feelings are our wisdom. The transmutation comes from the willingness to hold our seat with the feeling, to let the words go, to let the justification go. We don’t have to have resolution. We can live with a dissonant note; we don’t have to play the next key to end the tune.
Curiously enough, this journey of transmutation is one of tremendous joy. We usually seek joy in the wrong places, by trying to avoid feeling whole parts of the human condition. We seek happiness by believing that whole parts of what it is to be human are unacceptable. We feel that something has to change in ourselves.
However, unconditional joy comes about through some kind of intelligence in which we allow ourselves to see clearly what we do with great honesty, combined with a tremendous kindness and gentleness. This combination of honesty, or clear-seeing, and kindness is the essence of maitri-unconditional friendship with ourselves.
This is a process of continually stepping into unknown territory. You become willing to step into the unknown territory of your own being. Then you realize that this particular adventure is not only taking you into your own being, it’s also taking you out into the whole universe.
You can only go into the unknown when you have made friends with yourself.

jmpw on June 16, 2008 at 5:53 pm

Great reading comprehension skills yet again!
“Schmuck” referred to Jimmy Carter.

Red Ryder on June 16, 2008 at 5:54 pm

Catholic theology lesson–
While you have to be dead to be a saint, that is hardly the only qualification.

Red Ryder on June 16, 2008 at 5:57 pm

I thought this a flower child free blog.

Red Ryder on June 16, 2008 at 6:08 pm

I was so shocked because he seemed like such a good and down to earth guy. He explained politics easily to me and I’m one who only in recent years following what’s happening. I consider myself a strong conservative but really liked him. I also really liked his Dad who sounds like like a guy like my Dad. Just good people.
I work in PR in NYC and was surprised to see the junior kids (entry level) so saddened by his passing.

nyone on June 16, 2008 at 6:40 pm

“You Ms. Schlussel are a peddler of hate and bigotry.”
Oh great one! Please, can you take your halo off long enough to enlighten us poor, poor evil individuals?
The left wouldn’t know what to do without the words “hate” and “bigotry”. They throw these words around as if they have made some great point. Their myopic “insight” gives them great powers that us mere mortals can only hope to achieve. Maybe one day…

AlturaCt on June 16, 2008 at 7:13 pm

Thank you for saying this Debbie. I thought I was the only one in America who thought this way.
By the way, isn’t it MICHAEL Scheuer from the CIA, not James?

SurfDog on June 16, 2008 at 7:49 pm

NBC’s Tim Russert died?
I Do Not Care.
I didn’t even watch his pathetic Sunday morning show for the last 2 years.

Independent Conservative on June 16, 2008 at 9:41 pm

jmpw: I read your overly long post and thought–what crap. Is that what they call “purple prose”? My advice to you is this: 1- read my carefully to improve your comprehension and 2- get over yourself.

lexi on June 16, 2008 at 11:16 pm

I never watched Russert because I thought he was a typical mainstream media type. And he was, just more affable-seeming and more like a regular guy, what with his weight problem and all. I feel bad for his son and wife but please, can we end the log-rolling? Stop the orgy! The fact that he was a friend of Mike Barnicle, the plagarizer, makes me think a little bit less of him. Barnicle is best kept under wraps, dishonest lefty that he is.

lexi on June 16, 2008 at 11:20 pm

I remember Richard Nixon was alive to see the disparity between the coverage of his wife’s death and the death of Jackie Kennedy. All Jackie ever did was look good in a size 2 and act as a doormat for JFK, but the media acted as though she was the greatest woman who ever lived, without actually explaining why, of course. When Pat Nixon died there was no special coverage at all.
Tim Russert was just another garden variety, liberal hack. I never believed a thing he said.

John Harper on June 17, 2008 at 1:05 am

Debbie, spot on as usual.
People are acting like he was a saint and really great in the MSM which he was not. I did not watch him and could not stand to watch his show as I felt he was biased. Yes, perhaps he was a tad better than the mainstream msm but NOT by much… They give him too much credit.
Yes, I am sorry he died as he wasn’t evil, but the facts are the facts. Too big of hoopla was made of this man. May he rest in peace and his family find some. I think some of the pics the lovely liberal media took of his son mourning his father by his chair were bad taste. His son should have been given privacy..but could they give it? Nooooo they had to take a pic of it and spread it around. Disgusting.

diaphanous on June 17, 2008 at 6:08 am

John Harper: “I remember Richard Nixon was alive to see the disparity between the coverage of his wife’s death and the death of Jackie Kennedy.”
Nixon died a month before Jackie Kennedy, a woman of impeccable grace and style, a respected book editor, and a trendsetter for millions of Americans.

Audacious on June 17, 2008 at 6:15 am

Man, am I depressed. Thomas Sowell has gotten into the act and written a glowing piece about Tim.

Blayne on June 17, 2008 at 7:19 am

Well said Debbie-and correct.
Audacious–you are as your handle implies–reckless and insolent. You do make for a good side show.
Since Mark Levin has dubbed Russert “Mr. Potato-head” (after russet potatatoes, I suppose) I will always remeber him that way with the “meet the press” music in the background.
This nice guy shtick was the external trapping of his TV persona–but to those who watched and listened, Russet let it be plainly known that he was a liberal’s lib. The case is well proven in the many examples linked on this thread. He was the kind of hatchet man to be feared most by conservatives–one who would be polite and smile at you before he did his dirty work. I am not going to miss him and his dry erase board on election day.

BB on June 17, 2008 at 8:09 am

Debbie — you are so right.
Seems a nice guy who loved his dad. Him and maybe thirty million others.
But let’s just dispose one of the more blatant OTT claims about Mr Russert and his “technique.”
I heard one of the admiration society claim that in 1992 Mr Russert suddenly invented this brand new “forensic” interview idea.
Hardly. Mr Russert MUST have been aware, and have seen, a rather famous British political interviewer named Brian Walden.
In 1977, Walden quit as a politician and started Weekend World which ran noon Sundays into the 1990s.
Walden introduced and PERFECTED the relentless, fact based interview technique lifted lock stock and microphone by Russert.
There’s nothing new under the sun.

Jack Bauer on June 17, 2008 at 8:26 am

Meet the Press is still on? Who knew?
RIP Tim. Too bad you were a shill for the godless, socialists, sniveling horde of grievance mongers.
As for jmpw: You should take David Lettermans’s advice to George Costanza-maybe you should start breaking the prozacs in half.

Southernops on June 17, 2008 at 8:37 am

Hey Debbie is there a reason you block out the word God with G-d?….”We saw it with so many others who died earlier than we expected, but right on time in G-d’s plan”…. I’m just being curious as I have heard you talk about being religious.

mfee01 on June 17, 2008 at 10:09 am

I don’t like to see or read about any untimely deaths, but I must agree, the MSM all go nuts when it happens to a media person. I never watched Tim Russert or MSNBC, because I frankly can’t stomach pissy Chrissy Matthews, and Keith Overbite. IMO, they’re all overrated, over paid and not worth a shiite!

Jackson Pearson on June 17, 2008 at 4:01 pm

Could you please remove Audacious and his pitiful drivel. It serves no useful purpose whatsoever — other than those of his own self-interested stupidity.
That self interest amounts to no more than the satisfaction he feels when he brings somebody down.
Biblical: “He cannot sleep unless he has brought somebody down.”
He typifies the Liberal/Socialist mindlessness portrayed in the Bible.
“The more they fancied themselves philosophers, the more stupid they grew.”
Unfortunately for him, most of the people here trust themselves — as opposed to being captivated by our own intellects, as Audacious is –and like in the lyrics of the Dylan song, Trust Yourself,
we are not disappointed when vain people let us down.”
In most of us, pride is benign, but in people like Audacious, pride has gone malignant with total blindness being the primary symptom.

TallT on June 17, 2008 at 5:20 pm

I feel satisfaction when I bring somebody down? Me?
You read this post, and the accompanying comments, and I’m the one bringing somebody down?
I think it’s back to the Bible for you. And try the Seven Sages of Greece.

Audacious on June 17, 2008 at 5:49 pm

Lexi- I have tried to take your advice and I cannot unlock the meaning.
“read my carefully to improve your comprehension”

jmpw on June 17, 2008 at 10:32 pm

“Audacious”, I obviously remembered incorrectly. But, what a sniveling person you must be, to go check that. I’m sure that gives small people like you a lot of satisfaction.
And, Jackie Kennedy was a vapid airhead. She talked as if she’d been struck on the head. If she had been a Republican’s wife, they’d still be joking about her.

John Harper on June 19, 2008 at 4:45 pm

And Jackie was a trendsetter for Hillary, at least, learning how to ignore it when your husband is publicly boinking everything that moves. What grace and style!

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