Touching tribute on MTP to Russert this morning that ranged from funny to extremely sad. When Brokaw choked up and Mike Barnicle grabbed his hand to help him, a tear came to my eye. Such a good guy, and it is obvious how much his friends loved him.
Just too damned young to die.
Sorry, John. I’m not joining in the sob fest. If Russert had done his job, thousands upon thousands of dead people would be alive today.
PLUS…I find it extremely tacky that these media stars want to share their personal grief with viewers in such an endless, exhibitionistic, schmaltzy way. I understand that Russert had many people in his life who loved him. Let them go grieve and mourn and comfort each other in privacy and with sincerity. All this “acting” for the cameras is repulsive and cheapens their sentiments.
All that said, the masturbatory media/governement pubblic mourning for Russert is VERY VERY American in its complete tastelessness and lack of irony.
Oh hell…fuck them all.
Whatever he was as a person is between him and the people who knew him. In political terms, he was part of the problem – the inside guy who knew everybody, played the game and protected the powerful. The kind of person for whom it’s all a big inside joke and let’s have another drink.
That’s not politics, its schmoozing. Cheap sentimentality doesn’t belie the fact that he benefited hugely from the very structure he should have been critiquing, including the run-up to the Iraq War.
He was in a position to use his power to advance a real politics. Instead, he served the interests of power of which he was also a part. Let them mourn him.
The first two comments and John’s original post on Russert’s death (which got linked at RCP) leave out the fact that Russert was an employee who did not have complete control over his show.
I’m not going to defend him absolutely, but begrudging the public mourning of a public person is petty.
Some of you suck.
Look, I am with you on the near two-day atrocity at MSNBC, although that horror show seems to have ended. Knowing NBC, though, they probably just moved it to Universal or one of their 55 sister channels.
On the other hand, I think the MTP tribute was completely appropriate, tastefully done, and touching. That was the appropriate venue, as MTP was Russert’s baby for all those years.
BobZim, everyone sucks, just not at the same time.
I agree with John’s assesment of Russert’s professional work, and appreciate your pointing out the reason that assesment is so dead on.
Dennis - SGMM
On the same day that Russert died, and every day, more than 32,000 people died of hunger, 5700 died of HIV-AIDS, 3,000 died of malaria. The public and endless rending of garments over a newsman is an unseemly reflection of the self-importance of the media.
Actually, Russert was a vice president at NBC, and was the managing editor of MTP. He had complete control over the show. MTP was his.
I find it ironic that NBC News decided that the best way to salute Tim Russert’s life was to stop reporting any news for three days.
Classy group you have here, Mr Cole. I’m surprised some of them haven’t credited America’s love of fags for Russert’s death. Because most of them HAVE to be surnamed “Phelps”, given the tone and graciousness of their comments, now going on 2 full days after an honorable man’s death.
I don’t think I need to earn my creds here as a critic of the news media on these pages.
But blaming Tim Russert for the war in Iraq is just fucking ridiculous. Over the course of the Russert threads here, that theme has been visible on a regular basis. My opinion is that it’s just bunk.
It is also my opinion that in an information transaction, the primary responsibility for getting things right rests with the consumer, in a robust information environment. It’s the consumer’s job to listen to multiple sources and parse out the realities from the baloney.
Just as it is your responsibility when you go the supermarket, to choose a healthy — or at least not completely toxic and unhealthy — list of foods, and to eat in a way that serves your health interests, it is your responsibiity to get informed and make good choices.
I was able to argue that both the WMD and 911 arguments for war with Iraq were wrong, in 1992, despite Tim Russert. And the message of that is, if I can do it, anybody can do it. We live in an age of responsibility avoidance. The Bush Administration won’t take responsibility for getting Iraq wrong. Congress won’t take it. The media won’t take it.
Well, guess what? It’s the people who have the ultimate responsibility, if they are to have the ultimate power. That’s us. If we want to really be in control, then we need to learn to tell shit from shinola.
Blaming Tim Russert for the failures of your government is not going to get you there.
When do right-wingers defend media personalities with backgrounds in Democratic politics?
When they are dead, and when doing so gives them an opportunity to attack more Democrats.
“Classy group you have here, Mr Cole. I’m surprised some of them haven’t credited America’s love of fags for Russert’s death. Because most of them HAVE to be surnamed “Phelps”, given the tone and graciousness of their comments, now going on 2 full days after an honorable man’s death.”
It’s possible to recognize Russert for both his achievements and his failings, and also perfectly in line to disagree with how his company and competitors treated the story.
As other people have said, his family and friends are better off expressing their grief in private, where our nosy eyes have no business poking into.
Meet the Press pretty much had to acknowledge Russert on the show, and Cole praised them for doing so. Having said that, it was not necessary to stop reporting other news stories for two days to focus on him.
Yeah, you got me. He was not accountable to ratings, advertisers, or corporate brass including GE. How embarrassed am I?
If you want to have a discussion on the MSM’s role in the Iraq War, fine. But to do it at the equivalent of a very much loved man’s graveside service only reinforces the negative stereotype of the blogging community.
Like a teacher in summertime: No Class!
I’m glad you enjoyed it, John, I found it nauseating. For the sake of his family I’m sorry the man died before his time, but I’ve never seen the point of saying nice things about dead people just because they’re dead. The fact that they shuffled off this mortal coil doesn’t change what they did when they were alive. Shameful in life, shameful in death.
For those who are griping about the non-stop coverage at MSNBC, I’m sure it’ll stop after today.
If one of your (relatively) young, beloved family members died in the middle of a family gathering, I’m sure you’d spend the entire weekend talking about him. His “family” just had access to TV cameras.
This topic is like the parable of the blind men and the elephant – everyone has a hold of a different part of it and the whole thing is so large it is difficult for any one person to grasp it all (note – no sarcasm here, I’m not making pumpkin jokes on the sly).
Tim Russert was a very public figure, so there is going to be a tremendous diversity is the reaction different people have to him, to his legacy, to his place in the political media and the larger media genre of which he was an exemplar, and to their role in our political system and culture.
Firstly, his untimely death at a young age came as a tremendous shock to everyone concerned. His colleagues at NBC are using the airtime they command to hold the media equivalent of a fireman’s funeral (as a comment on the other TR thread put it). That seems right and proper IMHO – let them show their grief and their humanity for a change, goodness knows we see little enough of it on a regular basis the rest of the time.
I think there is also a Princess Diana effect at work here with the audience. Many people have been watching MTP and his other work for so long that a bond of familiarity formed, the sort of one-way intimacy that is the special signature of mass media (radio, TV). I can understand why someone who felt that bond would react harshly to perceived criticism of TR so soon after his passing. Also, not speaking ill of the dead is just common decency.
At the same time, Tim Russert was also a very prominent member of an elite group of people who wield a great deal of unofficial but significant power within our political system. That political system has failed us badly in recent years, and the members of the media who are part of it bear some responsibility for what happened on their watch.
When someone prominent dies, that is the moment when they begin to pass into history, and the hagiography created at that moment tends to crystallize and is difficult to change afterwards (see Ronald Reagan for example).
Some of the courtesies that we observe when someone passes away are particular to more private persons, but when a very public figure of historical significance is involved, honesty as well as tact makes a stronger claim on us if we don’t wish to engage in a form of self-deception which is dangerous.
There is a pull in two different directions going on here, between the intimacy felt by members of his regular audience (which dictates the courtesy due in a more private affair), and the need to set the record straight (which is more urgent for a public figure).
For that latter reason, I can understand the frustration of those critics of our infotainment media complex who feel that while the tributes to Tim Russert which are pouring out over the airwaves are sincere, they are also having an effect (intended or not) of seriously distorting the historical picture we are forming of our media and their culpability in recent disasters and folies.
I don’t think a whitewash of the mainstream media is necessarily intended, but that is going to be the net effect of all of this. All of these tributes add up to a subtext of: The Village – “We’re really great guys and we did nothing wrong”. That is not a message I agree with, and it will harm us in the future if it takes hold too deeply, IMHO.
I hope that the critics and anti-critics can step back and see the larger picture long enough not to waste energy fighting with each other. We’ve gotten bigger and more important tasks to deal with than that.
Last comment: these threads on Balloon-Juice and elsewhere have featured a lot of discussion as to who should eventually take the helm at MTP. I don’t see much consensus emerging, reflecting (I think) that the requirements are numerous and difficult to balance with one another.
In other words, it isn’t that easy a job to do. Despite what critics may have to say of Tim Russert’s performance, it speaks well of him that he has left a very large set of shoes to fill, that it should be so difficult to find someone else to fill them.
Agree with John here. This is the place where a full-blown, Irish wake, send off is entirely appropriate.
There’s plenty to time tomorrow to have the debate as to how good or bad he was at his job.
Can we agree that all these narcissistic shills are paid millions of dollars to be mouthpieces for the corporate telecom kings who serve the interest of their corporate minions?
Correct me if I’m mistaken, but I doubt that any of us who post here possess the ability to become million dollar shills. May I presume we are people of conscience and decency?
Everyone has their price. How did Tim Russert do it?
I mean, how could he give us the sense that he was a nice guy and yet serve as a bellboy, holding open the door for those with such dark agendas?
He was complicit in ALL abominations of the Bush regime, from the shredding of the Constitution to the invasion and occupation of a sovereign country.
He died, steeped in blood. Sad actually.
Who’s blaming him for the war? For being a water-carrier for the Administration – hell yes. According to Chris Mathews he supported the war. Go back to his interviews with Bush and Rumsfeld after 9/11. He was a ‘patriotic’ journalist, which meant he never really questioned the official story but rather supported it.
You’re right about personal responsibility, of course but critical thinking has died in the US. But completely absolving people like Russert of their own responsibility means forgetting the influence they do have and apply. He was part of the same structure that included the architect’s of the war – he just pitched it.
Dennis - SGMM
Nuts. Internet users are a subset of Americans. Internet users who could have Googled up accurate information on Iraq ante bellum are an even smaller subset. The journos are the ones being paid to deliver accurate reporting. That it would have taken five minutes to debunk the Niger yellowcake document and that no one in the media did so is not my fault, it is theirs.
I’m not blaming Russert, or any of the other talking heads for the failure of government. I am holding them responsible for not doing their jobs.
One of the things I really appreciated about Tim Russert was this discussion on religion with Jon Meacham and Rick Warren in which they take the “religious right” to task.
To me, it was a very important discussion that was long overdue, and we need more of this sort of thing.
Now who do you see doing it in the future?
Dennis - SGMM
No, I think you are avoiding holding yourself responsible.
That is my point. It’s your country. If you want better government, better intelligence, better anything, you have to go out and do something to get it. The people sat back and let a few pundits and a few officials walk the country over a cliff, and never asked the tough questions or demanded the tough answers. Never even suggested just taking more time and getting more information, which would surely have exposed the myths of WMD and 911-Iraq connection.
I have no respect for people who sit in front of a tv and wait for somebody else to do their work for them. If the people really want to be the ultimate power, then they have to learn to take the ultimate responsibility.
Information is ubiquitous. Nobody is going to spoon feed you the choices you need to make. Nobody owes you that. Any more than anybody owed it to the members of Congress who were lazy and didn’t do the due diligence. Or the people in the White House who didn’t do it.
I just pray that when Rush Limbaugh finally overdoses on either hubris or pills that I don’t have to suffer through even more of this honored fallen soldier routine.
This guy was as responsible as anybody for the real soldiers getting put in harms way for totally trumped-up reasons. He played along willingly. If he was such a dam fine journalist (or human being) why in the hell did I know he way lying to me at the time he was doing it? Because I could read what folks like the UN (who were on the ground in Iraq) were saying. The whole lot of lies, from Niger to aluminum tubes was debunked in real time, yet Tim and his war mongering buddies somehow missed the story. Like how ABC somehow misses the story on their use of bogus generals, yet somehow still finds time to reflect on the serious problems Obama’s wife is gonna have.
Perhaps a caring God spared Tim from the impending (a man can hope) war crimes trials? That’s the only silver lining I hope the bastard ever got.
I read over at http://www.whatreallyhappened.com that Capt. Ward Boston (Senior Legal Counsel for the US Navy’s Court of Inquiry on the Attack of the USS Liberty) died the other day (and close to the 41st anniversary of Israel’s assault on the Liberty).
I would have loved to have three days of coverage of this episode in US Naval History. This was one of the most decorated crews in recent history and yet it’s virtually ignored. Even the Medal of Honor winning captain was slighted.
Skipper of the USS Liberty and Medal of Honor recipient Captain William McGonagle
“When Navy Capt. William L. McGonagle received his Medal of Honor, it was not bestowed on him by the president, as is customary, or even presented at the White House. McGonagle, who died last week at 73, was given his award in the relative seclusion of a shipyard near Washington by the Navy secretary. For all of McGonagle’s heroism, he was still part of an incident that the U.S. and Israeli governments would rather forget.”
For a remarkable account of just how valiant the USS Liberty crew was, see this VFW magazine article here: In Awesome Heroism in Defense of the USS Liberty –
Their valour and sacrifice went largely ignored by the MSM on the recent 40th Anniversary of the attack though I recall recent remembrances of the 40th anniversary of The Beatles “Sgt. Pepper” album and the 40th anniversary of the Ford Mustang. I imagine we can look forward to Timmeh tributes every June 13th from here on in.
Cui bono (who benefits?).
The Gal In Black?
Maybe. But it’s near impossible to walk the line between outspoken critic and editorialist – which is what Russert’s detractors here wanted him to be – and a journalist that is given what leeway he was given.
I think if you bother to read the recent Russert Threads you will find it a recurring theme, the idea that Russert somehow failed us and let the govt take us into a bad war.
We failed us. The truth is that Russert was just one of us, much more a regular guy than anything else, and he blew it, but so did about 200+ million other people in this country, and they all slept through the decision making part. That’s not Russert’s fault, any more, or less, than it is anyone else’s fault.
Information is like food. You are what you eat. It didn’t take rocket science to simply say, in early 2003, wait a minute … what’s the hurry? Why are we starting a war when we haven’t even finished the inspections?
Nobody really spoke up. The nation watched tv and remained silent. It wasn’t the tv that fucked you over, it was the silence.
I’ll save you the trouble – Russert was a full-on Likud supporter who attacked any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism. Don’t forget his harassing of Obama on the Farrakhan question when he knew goddamned well that Obama’s campaign had rejected Farrakhan’s support here
Your point makes sense in the abstract, but to me it seems awfully utopian. Can you point to a past example in history where a large fraction of the public kept itself that well informed? It seems to me that the people I know personally for the most part keep well informed regarding the things which affect their short-term welfare, and a smattering of other topics as suits their whims, as a kind of intellectual hobby.
I don’t see much evidence that our high-bandwidth info environment has done much to change that either, except post facto.
Now people in the US know a good deal more about Sunnis and Shia than they did circa 2000, just as we learned a good deal more about the geography and politics of SE Asia by the late 1970s. Wars tend to do that (they also bring new food trends to the US via the inevitable refugees – expect a lot of good Iraqi restuarants to be found here in another 5-10 years).
How are you going to achieve an situation where people are well informed, especially on topics which aren’t of immediate concern to them, if the news media doesn’t take a leading role in helping them to do that, and in fact is being downright obstructionist by catapulting propagada?
See, Wilfred is what I’m talking about. Ask a question he shouldn’t have asked, and he’s Lieberman’s butt-boy.
Stupid. Wallow on, you Prefects Of Information Distribution.
I agree with TZ on this, it is up to the consumer of news to determine if what they are seeing, hearing or reading is accurate or not. The last thing I expect to get is the truth from the MSM, and anyone who expects this is just stupid. The problem is the lazy news consumer and their becoming so ‘fat’ from consuming crap news that they are too lazy to get off their asses and find the truth out for themselves or to hold the press accountable.
Instead, they just swallow everything they are fed, and when something goes wrong they blame everyone except their own lazy uninformed asses. Russert was a little cog in a huge machine, and that is the end of it. When someone dies, unless that person is some sort of vile criminal, they are usually given a few days grace before people really discuss their legacy. It is a small courtesy, and it costs you nothing, but it seems to be beyond the capacity of some people out there.
Russert did not start the war, and IMO it is not his ‘fault’. It is the fault of the lazy American public and their stupid and greedy leaders who did not have the balls to stand up and stop what most of them really knew was wrong. I screamed and bitched about it in writing to my representatives when Bush and Cheney were leading the rest of them off the proverbial cliff, and where were the rest of you? If enough people had raised hell, irrespective of what the MSM was feeding us, our leaders would have had no choice but to listen.
I agree. It is just plain petty and tasteless to play the blame game when the dead have nothing to say about it in defense of themselves. Tim Russert was a fellow human being first, but some of you seem to forget that.
It’s easy to talk about critical thinking but not so easy to teach or develop. On the last day of class I tell by students a story, it’s from the same man who told the Story of the Hindoos and the Elephant.
One day a man went out to hunt and after hours bounding about in the forest had not managed to shoot anything. Dejectedly, he decided to return home when he saw a tiny bird perched on branch. He grabbed the poor thing and was about to wring its neck when the little bird spoke up:
– Brave hunter, please spare me. I won’t make much to eat in any case.
– True, said the hunter, but you’re better than nothing.
– Hunter, said the bird, I’m obviously a special bird and if you agree to release me I promise to give you three precious pieces of advice. The first from here in your fist, the second while perched on your wrist and the last, and most important, when I have flown to my safety in yonder tree.
Intrigued, and with greed gaining the best of hunger, the hunter agreed. Proceed, he said.
– The first bit of advice is to never mourn for something you have lost
Hearing this old saw the hunter was a little disappointed but opened his hand to release the bird who fluttered to his wrist.
– the second piece of advice is to not believe everything you hear, and with that the bird flew to a nearby tree.
Now the man was upset, believing that he had traded an admittedly meager lunch for two things he’d heard a million times. Resigned but still curious as to the third and most important counsel he asked the bird to meet his end of the bargain. At which point the bird started to laugh hysterically. Affronted, the man demanded to know what was so funny. And the bird responded:
– You humans are so stupid. Inside me I have a diamond that weighs over a pound and you let me get away so easily.
Hearing this, the man went crazy – crying and tearing his hair over the treasure he had lost. When he finally composed himself he said to the bird:
– Well at least tell me the third piece of advice. And the bird responded.
– How did you treat the first two that I should give you the last? I warned you to never mourn for what you have lost and yet you cried like a baby when you realized you had lost the diamond. I also told you not to believe everything you hear but just looking at me could tell you that it was impossible to conceal a one pound diamond inside of me. The last piece of advice is too precious to waste on people who neither listen nor think.
I agree that Tim Russert was not the sole or even one of the primary manufacturers of the Iraq War. Some people here are being a little hysterical.
But he most certainly was not some Average Joe with no more power to speak up than the rest of us. How many principled opponents of war did he talk to on MTP during the run-up to the invasion? I don’t buy the notion that he was just as duped as the rest of us when he was having regular interactions with Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney. The American people (most of us) were duped because they had to rely on what people like Russert chose to ask the government. That’s why there’s some animosity and resentment over this.
Since this is an open thread: Al Giordano is no longer at his original hosting site for The Field. (All your links to any pages in the old site will be redirected to a sister site called The Back Forty. There are a few old pages rattling around Google cache.) There may have been a variety of issues behind his departure, but what we all know is that a June 11 post mentioning Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals was pulled, and Al walked.
The Field will continue to run at Al’s personal site Narco News.
TZ, I would agree here. I am a huge advocate of personal responsibility. America has become a nation of victims, blamers and whiners and I say to them: Wake the fuck up and GROW the fuck up.
Maintaining this victimhood, I believe is one of the goals of those who control the MSM.
The downside of a Majority Rules type of democracy enables a certain tyranny over the Minority.
Thinking people are the Minority now and thanks in no small part to the corporate media, the People are not armed with the truth.
People armed with the truth is what is required in order for We the People to take back our country.
I look forward to the day, and I think it will be soon, when the info dam breaks and this nation will bathe in the truth.
I just realized that we are so very lucky Chris Matthews is overseas right now.
Not everyone that asks a question friendly to Zionists is Quisling McLieberman’s butt-boy, but start asking questions that make Zionists uncomfortable and you’ll be out of a job right quick or relegated to some small town backwater.
The Fate of an Honest Intellectual – Noam Chomsky
I’m with you there. I’d hate to hear what’s been crawling up his leg since Friday afternoon.
Amongst brown people of a certain religious persuasion, Russert was neither liked nor respected. You wouldn’t know about that.
But I hear that cocoa butter is good for getting your head out of your ass.
…or be “suicided”, or “plane crashed”, or “fatally mugged”, or “heart-attacked” or fall victim to any number of other “accidents”.
Go ahead, think me a kook. I’ll think you naive.
I do not like where this is going. Accusations of a widespread Jewish conspiracy should be recognized for what they are, and I will not tolerate it. I will shut this fucking website down before that happens, so tread carefully.
I don’t think holding Russert, or any individual journalist (except maybe Judy Miller) personally responsible for the Iraq War is legitimate, and ditto for blaming the it entirely on the public. I lay that special condemnation at the feet of Bush and Cheney where it belongs.
The fact that the press didn’t do it’s job (except the Mcclatchy guys and maybe a few others) is a result of the long term transformation of news gathering and presentation into a profitable enterprise. And that comes from the concentration of network ownership that demands profit above all else from from every one of it’s holding.
When TV in the 50’s was becoming the most powerful medium for disseminating information and the airwaves were rented out to the networks, there was an agreement that providing high quality news would be exempt from profit pressures. And in fact every network news department for decades operated at a loss and under the banner that delivering accurate unbiased news was a public service they would provide as part of their air frequency lease and a sense of patriotism.
All that has now changed where news has become just like every other corporate venture where profit is demanded. This has led to the ever increasing news gathering and delivery being valued for it’s entertainment value. That’s the main reason for the giggly anticipation and lack of scrutiny the media and it’s reporters showed the world prior the the Iraq war, IMHO.
Oops, I forgot myself.
Sorry John, won’t happen again.
Yeah, that’s about right. Russert was the corporate pick after Larry Grossman was submarined and pushed out by Jack Welch.
If you want to make the argument that this is an inappropriate time to voice criticism of Timmeh because he just died, that’s somewhat understandable as a human response.
I’m not rejoicing that he died like folks did when Hitler or Mussolini bought it. Timmeh wasn’t Hitler, he was just a willing henchman. Too smart to not have known that the war he was promoting wasn’t supported with facts. He was front row center in ‘creating their own reality’ that Bush and his cronies were braying about at the time.
I honestly believe it inappropriate to lionize someone who has done so much to advance a bogus war whether in life or death.
You’ve been right on this weekend, John. Russert not only was a part of the clubby Washington political establishment order in which the role players move in sync, he gloried and promoted it. While eulogizing Russert, corrupted Big Media has been patting itself on its back.
But Christ on a cracker, MTP was his show and, assuredly, his regular viewers appreciated the tribute; and that’s reason enough.
dude, we’re responsible for everything from the war on iraq to the common cold. it’s all here in this pamphlet.
You wouldn’t shut this site down any more than Tim Russert would risk his career by trying to discredit everything we know was wrong with the Iraq War.
Think about it. Why would you or Russert give up a platform to do what you think is right even though it might be wrong?
The Grand Panjandrum
At about 20-21 minutes in the broadcast Doris Kearns Goodwin: “… he has such a personality …”
She knows he’s dead it just hasn’t quite sunk in that she will always have to speak about him in the past tense.
Hilarious. The ACTUAL complaint that most people have about Russert is that he was practically the embodiment of the very responsibility ducking that you’re ostensibly complaining about. Yet you decide that THEY are wrong.
Lots of people saw that the “arguments” for war were the latest version of the Big Lie. Many of us tried, before the disaster, to dissuade our fellow citizens and Congresscreatures. Didn’t do shit, did it?
The PERTINENT question is, How many of them had a platform like Russert’s? How many war sceptics did Russert even bother to talk to? The guy’s on record, from multiple sources, of acting as a completely willing conduit for the Big Lie. Why, then, should Russert be treated with anything other than scorn?
I’d like to know how many kids from Russert’s beloved Buffalo, having no better options available, enlisted and had their lives trashed in the desert. When Brokaw and the rest of the Beltway courtiers say something about them, I’ll listen.
I was linking a Jew remarking on a Jew of the price paid for going against the Zionist official narrative. Furthermore, I asked a legitimate question regarding the USS Liberty; i.e who benefits?
Mr. Cole, it is your site and you need no permission to do with it whatever you want, but maybe you can answer the question. Why were the details of the attack on the USS Liberty and the remarkable heroics of the crew so widely ignored? Whether or not the attack was accidental is immaterial to the question. Why aren’t their heroics honored in a manner that some of the subjects of Ollie North’s propaganda specials on military heroism on FAUX are?
Since Mr. Russert’s untimely death, we have been discussing in a fairly rational manner the role and performance of the American press. Philip Weiss at Mondoweiss is Jewish and able to deal with these questions. The very crimes of BushCo were enabled by people not asking *enough*, or pointed enough questions. No ideology (which is what Zionism is) should be beyond criticism. To paint it as some sort of attack on “The Jews” is not a valid characterization IMHO.
I wasn’t talking about you, Lance. Calm down.
Mr. Cole (John?), be that as it may, I am used to otherwise valid observations being the excuse for sounding the alarms because they venture into an area that has been granted special status. Arguments that require special pleading seem to be the weakest ones to put forth.
I like you, and your site, and your commentors. Even the ones I might disagree with. But I know that a lot of them make me think and reassess my own views. I think everyone’s arguments should sink or swim on their own merits.
For the people outraged at the quantity of coverage of Russert by the MTP crew:
Their friend and colleague died at their place of employment. On the job. Not at home, not anyplace separate from their own lives. In a shared space. A space that will remind them of him forever.
This wasn’t a prolonged illness where they got to come to terms with the fact he might die. He had a heart attack right in front of them. These are human beings. Human beings who gave a damn about this man, who worked with him daily.
I lost a good friend very abruptly when I was a freshman in college. His doctor had prescribed a slight overdose of asthma steroids, weakening his heart. He was 38. I wasn’t there when his heart attack hit, but the phone call I got hit me like a freight train. It was really hard to think of much else that week. It was impossible to think about anything else for a few days.
Sure, Russert was older… but he was not elderly, either. Late 50’s is still kinda young these days for such an abrupt end.
Yes, there’s other news that deserves coverage more. Yes, he was a dick politically. But these reporters are human freakin’ beings, and they need to get this out of their system so they can get back to work. This isn’t just public handwringing. This is people sorting out their minds and coming to terms with the fact that they will never work with, talk to, see, grab coffee with, or otherwise interact with this man again.
It’s easy to bitch from the outside. Put yourself inside for a second and stop being dickweeds about it.
On a lighter note from the files of “Believe it or Not” soon we may be able to run our cars on bug shit.
Filler up with Beetlejuice please.
People did speak up. On February 15, 2003, there were protests and marches in 150 U.S. cities. Of course, you wouldn’t know it from the so-called liberal media, because they were too busy falling over themselves to prove their patriotism by mocking the protestors–millions around the world–as a bunch of dirty fucking hippies. People who spoke up were branded as traitors–Joe Wilson, anyone?–and no “serious” members of the Beltway Village spoke up themselves or provided a forum for views that opposed the administration’s party line.
No, Tim Russert was hardly the only one responsible, but he was certainly complicit in the unspoken decision by the media not to challenge the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11. If we’re talking about what a tough interviewer Russert was, it seems only fair to also remember that Cheney liked him because he let Cheney “control the message”.
Too few, too little, and too late. The die was already cast. The people had already acquiesced.
But my main point is, it’s not about Russert. His untimely death has turned into an opportunity for him to be scapegoated by grave-dancers … when he isn’t even in the grave yet.
It’s foolish, and it’s wrong. Responsibility starts with one’s own responsibility. I’d be more impressed if people took the opportunity to explain what they might have done better, or different, in 2002, rather than pointing to the failures of others.
America is a nation of responsibility dodgers, that’s why we have a government that has it down to a science. Almost 75% said the war was justified in March 2003 according to Pew Research. Almost 90% said it was going well when it started.
Not enough were saying, why was there such a rush to start this war? The inspectors haven’t even finished their work yet?
I’m not “ostensibly” complaining, I am complaining.
And, yes, they are wrong, and so are you.
Aw fer chrissakes. Some of us are capable of holding more than one thought or sentiment at the same time, Liz.
I feel badly for Russert’s friends and loved ones, but that doesn’t preclude me/us from thinking that he was a boil on the ass of the body politic and used his position of power and influence to degrade our national discourse. Nor does that make me/us dickweeds for expressing our opinion of his character, or lack thereof, on a, you know, blog that is unconnected to NBC, MSNBC, or the Russert family.
My favorite post title of the day:
“And When They Rolled Away The Stone, Tim Was Gone”
(from Roger Ailes, the good one)
You just criticized this blog as “dickweeds” about two seconds after calling Russert a political dickweed. And wtf with the “easy to bitch from the outside”. Outside of what, some kind of club or fraternity.
They rent the airwaves that belong to we the people and thus have an obligation to use those airwaves to inform the public about what’s going on in the world. And yes, the sudden death of a beloved colleague of Russert’s stature is news that needs to be covered, and I would grant them the leeway of extra air time to “get it out of their systems”
But three days wall to wall coverage is over the top.
Every one has tragedies in their lives and need time to grieve, and my heart goes out to his family as I’ve lost young immediate families to sudden death.
But what about the 2 Gi’s killed in Iraq yesterday, or the 4 Marines blown up in Afghanistan. I would like a little coverage of that also. They didn’t get three days of remembrance on a news network. I doubt they got three minutes total on MSNBC.
I haven’t said a bad word about Tim Russert since his death,
and won’t, buts that just me. But I don’t begrudge those who interject some reality about his legacy as something other than sainthood that is currently being attempted by his colleagues. If your going to grieve publicly on the peoples airwaves, you have to expect contrary opinions as part of it.
What a great, great straight line. As if there weren’t enough dickweeditudity to go around here, and as if the Russert threads had somehow suddenly exposed it. Heh.
Anyway, nobody is a dickweed for criticizing any aspect of the media. However, dickweediness might ensue from either (a) trying to leverage the occasion of Russert’s demise as an opportunity to do this as if, you know, it was important to get in the barbs before he is embalmed, and (b) pretending that Russert had some great power that he actually didn’t have. He had a slot, and let’s face it, he was not Edward R. Murrow, but nobody else has been Murrow either. I think he was just a guy who got some things wrong. And I also think that there is plenty of time after his funeral and after some reflection to suggest considerable improvements in the news media.
However, since the media is not inclined to change all that much or that fast, it’s worth pointing out that we, the consumers, have TOTAL control of its effects on us. We have the remote control, we have the wide variety of information sources, we have minds that can think and ask, and we have the capacity to figure out what is real whether the talking head on the tube at the moment has it right, or not.
Anyone with a tv could have seen, in February 2003 or so, CNN showing us how the US was tracking truckloads of oil that Saddam Hussein was selling under the embarago radar, we knew where those shipments came from and where they went and what time they got there. Yet, we didn’t seem to know where the WMDs were. How much common sense would it have taken any citizen, or any congressman, to simply ask, why do we know where the oil is, but we don’t know where the weapons are? And why is there such a rush to start this war?
Here’s a simple solution: how ’bout those of you who feel some special reverence for Timmy, and mourn his sad demise, notify those of us who don’t when you might feel it is appropriate for us to again comment on this blog.
Would that satisfy your tender sensibilities, you irascible old coot? (smile)
Dennis - SGMM
Not me, sweetheart. I wrote and phoned my Congressman and both Senators a few dozen times in the run up to the Iraq disaster. I wrote letters to the editors of my local paper and the LA Times.
You didn’t have to be a genius to understand that Saddam wasn’t a threat to us and that removing the only local counterpoise to Iran was a huge blunder. You only had to be moderately well informed to suspect that pulling assets out of Afghanistan before it was secure and stable would leave the door open to further mischief on the part of the Taliban, et al. You didn’t need to have fought in a counter insurgency, as I did, to know that it takes a ton of boots on the ground to win one. And you damned sure didn’t need to be much of a historian to know that the Sunni and Shia have been at each others’ throats for 1400 years and that destroying the central authority in Iraq with insufficient forces to maintain order would lead to chaos and misery for the Iraqi people.
McClatchy knew it, Juan Cole knew it, Asia Times knew it, a lot of people knew it but they were drowned out by the unanimous voices of the MSM. Most of the media in this country were either knaves or fools or both and they let us down when they were most needed.
I’m sorry, your little strawman is lit aflame, to burn brightly for about two seconds, and then collapse into a little heap in the ashtray.
I have never expressed any “special reverence” for Tim Russert, nor are my current remarks grounded in, nor do they depend upon, any such reverence. It’s simple respect for the recent dead, combined with simple disrespect for a mob that wants to use his corspse as a defenseless scapegoat.
So cut the crap.
You need to send me a picture before you call me sweetheart, pal. And, good for you … I also made my displeasure well known before the war started, and after it started. So what?
You don’t have to be a genius to understand that a lot of people got these things wrong, and that waiting until the day they die to shout epithets at them is not really all that noble an act. Nor would it be ignoble to wait a week until resuming the scorn and ridicule. The gratuitous piling on to a guy who was about as bad as 80% of the American people on this issue is just a little too cute by half. I am not buying it, and I don’t respect it.
J. Michael Neal
The attitude that it is the responsibility of the citizens to stay informed, and so we get the government we deserve is, on one level, absolutely correct. It has a problem, though. I do keep myself informed, but I’m at the mercy of those who choose not to do the same.
Dennis - SGMM
And you need to know me much better than you do before you accuse me of not holding myself responsible for something that I actively and bitterly opposed.
I won’t criticize Russert. Let the dead bury their dead. I would observe that the percentage of the American people who got it wrong would likely have been far lower if the media had done its job. Ascribing the blame to any one individual is pointless; there’s more than enough blame to go around.
Most people still get most of their news from TV networks and Cable news. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that these primary outlets keep the people informed with thorough, thoughtful, and truthful reports about what’s going on.
To hold folks to a standard of having to become searchers of truth through the other mediums of information is, as was stated upthread, a bit Utopian.
When people like Cheney go on one news show after another making false claims that the 9-11 attacks involved Saddam Hussein, thens it’s time for journalists to say put up or shut up. Not to sheepishly ask the question and swallow whole any kind of answer, but to demand proof and if none is given leveling the charge of bullshit on our leaders. That’s what needs to happen before the press can claim they are the icons of telling truth to power. It used to be that way, at least to a sufficient degree, but no more.
Gratuitious piling on? That is pure and utter bullshit, especially coming from someone who hasn’t the slightest problem w/ calling out all and sundry for the slightest deviation, real or perceived, from his opinion or worldview.
The fact of the matter is that most of us who have questioned Timmeh’s character, or pointed out his destructive influence on our media, have been restrained in our commentary. I know I have. I thought Timmie was an asshole on Friday, before he died, and I still think he’s an asshole today—and had he been the subject of discussion on Friday, before he died, I would have decried him as an asshole then too.
Lastly, your contention that he “was about as bad as 80% of the American people on this issue” is just more bullshit and is unworthy of your intellect.
80% of the American people did not have 1/1,000,000 of his influence or power and I defy you to point out to us one, just one, example of where he offered any sort of mea culpa for his journalistic malpractice that allowed this war to be sold under his auspices.
Well, how about sharing with us your examples of where he even allowed a balanced airing of alternative viewpoints, by those people who were actually correct in their assessment of the Iraq misadventure, on his program in the five fucking years since the war was begun?
Again, I’ll wait.
For the people who say that Timmeh was a close friend, that they loved him and that they will miss his presence in their lives, I have the most profound sympathy.
For those who lionize him as a great journalist, a wonderful news host, a fantastic teller of truth I have nothing but contempt. He was a hack, and the purpose of his show was self-aggrandizement and nothing else.
“I just realized that we are so very lucky Chris Matthews is overseas right now.”
Chris Mathews was home on Saturday. He appeared with Nora Odonnell on her hour of remembrance. He was very calm.
Those of us who did not initially protest the Iraq War were shocked when it occurred. I know I believed it would not or could not happen. Then I thought who am I to judge the decision without the intelligence reports they must surely possess and could not share with us. In saying “they”, I do mean Congress along with the WH. My doubts began in the rush to get to Baghdad and hearing my ex-Marine husband’s views.
Many of our friends here and abroad in the UK were anti-war from the beginning. We held on hoping for the war to end. Soon we realized the folly of it all. Then we lost a nephew to it. This November we will vote for ending it.
Yes. My thoughts exactly. Thanks, Dennis.
Too many cocktail weenies.
Under oath in the Libby trial, Russert said that everything the White House told him was off the record unless he asked to put it on the record and was told he could.
That kind of understanding enabled many more deaths than Russert’s.
I’d dance on his grave but for the fact that his replacement will be equally trivial, career-focussed, gutless and complicit.
CBear, if you actually read the entire post, you’d see that I agree. I was only addressing the people who were bitching about the couple days of coverage and the newscasters grieving on air, not arguing or overlooking the fact that he was a political douchebag. For someone who can hold multiple concepts in his head at once, you’re doing a crap job of it here.
I even said that I don’t agree with his politics…that’s not what I was writing about. I was focusing on one aspect of the topic. I didn’t think I had to write a journal of every aspect of him and his life and his friends and his job and his views and his… getting the picture?
You all can file this under “winning hearts and minds.”
The problems stemming from DU munitions are actually not new to Iraq. If I’m not mistaken there was a sharp rise in cancer rates and birth deformities in Iraq following Desert Storm too.
And yet some people declared at the time that there was nothing wrong with these weapons and defended their use against the citizens of Falluja (and other places).
Some random thoughts:
No, I didn’t really like Russert all that much.
But that said, I try very hard not to “celebrate” anyone’s death. We all get a turn at that wheel, sooner or later. If I think someone is a total fuckhead I’m still just as satisfied with having them REMOVED from any position where their fuckheadery makes things more fucked-up. I don’t require their ultimate demise to be satisfied, that shit’s for nature and whatever to devine or deal out…when it comes to checking out I’m standing in the same line as assholes and saints. Might as well be civil while we’re waiting, you know?
The first thing that popped into my mind when I heard Russert had died was, “Shit…he musta been about my age”.
Yeah, yeah, yeah…it’s always about ME, so what’s your point?
I don’t rejoice when a death penalty is imposed on an honestly convicted murderer (or murder conspirator).
I don’t rejoice when Timmeh drops dead.
It just moves me a little closer to a belief in a just God.