Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert Accolades

All of the recent accolades heaped upon Tim Russert since his death on Friday disturb me. He may have been good at what he did, but he was not a good journalist as so many claim. He was not a good journalist because he was incredibly biased. He was a Bush enabler (Dick Cheney’s people considered Meet The Press their “best format” for catapulting the propaganda) during a time when that was the last thing that we needed. And because of the power that Mr. Russert had from Meet The Press and constantly being on television (it seems like he was on the Today Show every morning) his bias was that much more damaging.

I respectfully decline to join the large ranks of those saying how wonderful Mr. Russert was. There are a few others who share my opinion.

From Russert Failed Us by Thomas C:

But when we really needed him to be a journalist and to put his obligation to his viewers and readers ahead of his own career and his treasured access, he failed completely. And there were lives at stake, in Iraq and here at home.

I'm sorry. Flame away. But I can't help but feel betrayed. In the scheme of things perhaps it was a minor offense. It certainly doesn't place in the ranks of Bush, Cheney, Libby and the other war criminals. But Russert could have made a difference. And as a journalist he should have made a difference by telling us that Libby was lying, a disclosure that may have blown open this case in the months leading up to the 2004 election. But he didn't. He chose his career instead - the access, the fame, the fat $5 million contract. It seems like we really didn't enter into the equation for Tim.

I've noticed that others have expressed sentiments similar to those I've expressed in this post, and the reaction from many has been pretty harsh. They've insisted that this kind of criticism defames Russert, or is inappropriate at this time. All I can say in response is that if others are going to mourn Russert by falsely asserting that he was a giant of journalism, then there are at least 4100 reasons in Iraq why we should be permitted to rebut that assertion. Because Tim Russert may have been a great guy, and a good family man, but he was a poor journalist at a time when we needed good journalists so desperately.
Like George W. Bush, Russert wanted us to believe he was a “regular guy.” He frequently referred to his working class upbringing in Buffalo, New York. The fact of the matter is that he was rich and powerful and summered in Nantucket with his previous boss Jack Welch.

From Special report: Gregory’s world! by Bob Somerby:
Before Brady chose to spill the beans, did you even know that Russert “summers?” More specifically, did you know that he summers in consort with GE’s Jack Welch, his long-time (conservative) boss-man? (A year after Brady’s piece appeared, Chris Matthews plunked down a cool 4.4 mill to buy his own Nantucket shack.) And we’ll be honest; this whole thing seemed a bit more odd in light of the November 2000 profile by USA Today’s Peter Johnson, who said this of Russert tie to his bosses: “Colleagues say he shares a Catholic bond with NBC president Bob Wright and General Electric chairman Jack Welch.” If Brady’s report can be believed, the three men seal their bond on Nantucket.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that, of course—unless you’re concerned by the way that slightly odd Nantucket boys’ club has covered the politics of the Clinton/Bush era. In Part 4 of this report, for example, we’ll show you a remarkable journalistic flip-flop from October 2000—a flip which frankly makes us wonder if a call from Jack Welch might not have been placed to at least one of this island clique’s great cable stars.
If Tim Russert was the great journalist that so many claim he was, he would want the truth to be the most important part of his obituary. The sad fact is that Tim Russert played games with the truth and it has hurt us all.

For more on how fair and balanced Mr. Russert was:

Why Didn't They Call Me? by digby

Russert: At the Feet of the Powerful and Throat of the Weak
by Fred Branfman

Meet Tim Russert by Jamison Foser

Russert and panel failed to challenge claim that "no one knew" intel on Iraq WMDs was flawed

Russert misled on Iraq intelligence, statements by Bush and Cheney on Iraq/9-11 link

It's Checks and Balances, Mr. Russert by John Conyers

Was Race a Factor in Russert's Obama Interview?

Things Are Great in Iraq!

Washington Reporters In Meltdown, Damage-Control Freak Out Mode by David Sirota

I guess there is no reason for the main stream media to stop the lies and half-truths and misleading statements and obsfucation just because Tim Russert died. I suppose it is a fitting tribute to Tim Russert to do to Russert’s memory what Russert himself did during his career.

1 comments - Post a comment :

Ellen Beth said...

Thank you. I'm being critized on my blog for even gently mentioning that Russert passed along the lies and, if you saw Olbmermann last night, Russert told Olbermann that he (Russert) really believed that Iraq had nukes. My criticism is with those in the government who worked overtime to make guys like Russert believe.

Post a Comment