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June 13, 2008 12:47 PM   Subscribe

Tim Russert dead at 58.
posted by swift (245 comments total)

 
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posted by brundlefly at 12:48 PM on June 13, 2008


This is going around the television news community here in the Twin Cities like a thunderbolt.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:48 PM on June 13, 2008


Or a lightningbolt.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:49 PM on June 13, 2008


I know it's true, but I'm not allowing myself to believe it.

Goddammit.
posted by spec80 at 12:50 PM on June 13, 2008


His last post.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:50 PM on June 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh my god, no!

I have such respect for this man. With ignorant blowhards like Chris Matthews for his competition, he was one of the last voices of reason. I never missed Meet the Press.

Oh, wow, this news really saddens me. And at only 58!

Rest in peace, Tim Russert, you will be sorely missed.
posted by misha at 12:50 PM on June 13, 2008


I am really quite saddened by this. Dude was a legend.
posted by dhammond at 12:50 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by spiderwire at 12:51 PM on June 13, 2008


Heart attack.
So young.
posted by Dizzy at 12:51 PM on June 13, 2008


-30-
posted by hal9k at 12:51 PM on June 13, 2008 [10 favorites]


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posted by Auden at 12:53 PM on June 13, 2008


ugh.

He was a class act.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 12:54 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by dig_duggler at 12:54 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by voidcontext at 12:54 PM on June 13, 2008


That came out of nowhere.
posted by drezdn at 12:55 PM on June 13, 2008


....
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:56 PM on June 13, 2008


For another perspective on Russert, his work has been masterfully critiqued at the website The Daily Howler over the years.
posted by jayder at 12:56 PM on June 13, 2008 [4 favorites]


I loved the fact that on the night of the IN/NC primaries, the network momentarily eschewed fancy graphics in favor of Tim Russert explaining the math with a marker and whiteboard.
posted by scody at 12:56 PM on June 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


I never need awaken before noon on a Sunday ever again.
posted by Dreama at 12:58 PM on June 13, 2008 [8 favorites]


I was soooo looking forward to his election night analysis this fall. Goddamnit.
posted by dhammond at 12:58 PM on June 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


I think that whiteboard ended up in the Smithsonian, if memory serves.
posted by Dizzy at 12:58 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 12:58 PM on June 13, 2008


Wow, that's pretty damn shocking. Sunday mornings will not be quite the same.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 12:59 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by Pollomacho at 1:00 PM on June 13, 2008



Peter Jennings and Tim Russert were the true examples of unbiased journalism.
I now will have to re-work my Sunday mornings somehow...
posted by KB.Boston_implant.By way of NY at 1:00 PM on June 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


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posted by effwerd at 1:00 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by felix betachat at 1:00 PM on June 13, 2008


Sad. My grandfather dropped dead of a heart attack around the same age. Also a workaholic. He'll be missed.
posted by mattbucher at 1:01 PM on June 13, 2008


58 and obese does not make a heart attack a complete surprise. People have a tendency to imagine they'll have warning symptoms if they have heart disease when the opposite is likely the case. Sadder still, I wouldn't be surprised if the word is he "just had a full check-up" or some other meaningless comment implying his good health, since a guy of his stature is unlikely to skip exams. Even a relatively clean hearth cath doesn't mean you won't get a plaque rupture and keel over.
posted by docpops at 1:02 PM on June 13, 2008


Damn. Gotta feel for his dad right now, especially since Li'l Russ had to remind Terry McAuliffe a few months back -- live, on national teevee -- that Big Russ wasn't quite dead yet.

Partisan wonkery and Big Media crit aside:

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posted by Kinbote at 1:02 PM on June 13, 2008


Wow, that is crazy. I watched last week as he talked about that other journalist whose name escapes me, who had died.

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posted by cashman at 1:02 PM on June 13, 2008


Dreama: "I never need awaken before noon on a Sunday ever again."

Needing to be awake at 8:00 Sunday mornings has actually spurred me to cut my Saturday nights short. Try explaining to a bunch of drunk friends that you're going home so you can watch Meet the Press in the morning. They don't understand it, but it makes you feel really good.
posted by Science! at 1:02 PM on June 13, 2008 [5 favorites]


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posted by spilon at 1:02 PM on June 13, 2008


I thought this was some shock art piece at first. What a shame.

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posted by phrontist at 1:02 PM on June 13, 2008


This happened to my dad last year. Sometimes no matter what you do it's just BAM, and people are gone.


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posted by Dormant Gorilla at 1:03 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I loved the fact that on the night of the IN/NC primaries, the network momentarily eschewed fancy graphics in favor of Tim Russert explaining the math with a marker and whiteboard.

That's been his schtick for ever since election night in 2000. It was creative the first time, when perhaps he suddenly realized he needed to be able to diagram stuff live, but came off as pointless, artificial folksiness since.
posted by gsteff at 1:03 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by farishta at 1:05 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by JWright at 1:05 PM on June 13, 2008


Hmm, now would be the time to the administration to do a serious news dump.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:05 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Having met him a few times, I can testify he was exactly the same guy off air and on, though maybe a little more profane off air.
I can't imagine election night without him. Or Sundays, for that matter.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:06 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by 543DoublePlay at 1:07 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by jaimev at 1:08 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by saulgoodman at 1:08 PM on June 13, 2008


I followed my own Dad's footsteps into Meet the Press fandom. Never miss an episode. Although I like Russert I have to admit many times I was frustrated with what I perceived as lack of courage in some of his questioning. I never quite understood his reputation as being so tough. Wonder who his replacement will be? David Gregory?
posted by vito90 at 1:09 PM on June 13, 2008


I can't imagine who could fill his shoes - his knowledge of each parties' esoteric rules, electoral math, and his respect within the political community - this is a tremendous blow to the political nerds amongst us. I relied on Russert to ask questions that I couldn't ask. He was a proxy for the informed electorate.

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posted by uaudio at 1:09 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by schyler523 at 1:10 PM on June 13, 2008


Go, Bills.
posted by dhammond at 1:11 PM on June 13, 2008


So sad.
posted by triggerfinger at 1:11 PM on June 13, 2008


That's been his schtick for ever since election night in 2000.

I haven't regularly watched election returns (or network election coverage in general) for years, so that would explain why I wasn't hip enough to the faux-folkiness.
posted by scody at 1:12 PM on June 13, 2008


I always liked him, and Meet the Press. :-(

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posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 1:12 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by ericb at 1:13 PM on June 13, 2008


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Peter Jennings and Tim Russert were the true examples of unbiased journalism.

Wait...what? Was this meant to be sarcastic? 'Cause there's a whole load of evidence that Russert was biased to his own beliefs. Blanket assumptions of people being 'off the record' unless otherwise noted (I believe he stated to Fitzgerald, under oath, that "My personal policy is always off the record when talking to government officials unless specified.") does not make for good journalism. Let's not paint his actions as a paean to journalism, simply because he's both suddenly dead and held the desk on a network show.
posted by AccidentalHedonist at 1:13 PM on June 13, 2008 [13 favorites]


I've spent countless hours watching him, alternately "yes"ing and screaming at my television...his father will surely be crushed.

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From 2003:
How To Beat Tim Russert
posted by nevercalm at 1:14 PM on June 13, 2008


When reasonable and intelligent people like Tim Russert pass away, one of the first things I think is "My, but I'm glad he was on television."

A role model.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:14 PM on June 13, 2008



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XXX
posted by Herodios at 1:14 PM on June 13, 2008


I have always respected his reporting. I also enjoy the writing of his widow, Maureen Orth.
posted by ericb at 1:15 PM on June 13, 2008


I was really looking forward to him hammering the candidates and their various minions in this election. Political coverage in this country will be a lot poorer without him.

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posted by Alison at 1:15 PM on June 13, 2008


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I saw him speak last year in St. Louis and was blown away by his candid, comfortable approach to discussing current events. Really a brilliant guy. What a shame.
posted by kdern at 1:17 PM on June 13, 2008


Jeez, what a loss. Wish I had something more eloquent than that to say, but I don't.

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posted by wabashbdw at 1:18 PM on June 13, 2008


This is horrible, very sad news.
posted by applemeat at 1:18 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by IndpMed at 1:18 PM on June 13, 2008


Very sad. Was looking forward to his election night play by play. Prayers go out to Big Russ and family.
posted by pearlybob at 1:18 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by k8t at 1:18 PM on June 13, 2008


Major suckage. A class act, indeed.
posted by everichon at 1:18 PM on June 13, 2008


I met him once and chatted for about ten minutes, and he was a really nice guy that came off as both incredibly smart and hooked into the political community, and yet very humble and kind of reminded me of a bumbling great uncle in a way.

A huge loss for journalism, for NBC, and for all the interested viewers out there. News, and particularly the election coverage, won't ever be the same.
posted by gemmy at 1:19 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks for such a great, in-depth, interesting post.

Cuz, every FPP in the history of metafilter is in-depth and interesting. I don't think people need 20 links to pad this out. They guy is on TV every day. We know who he is. Just put your dot down and walk out, man.
posted by mattbucher at 1:21 PM on June 13, 2008 [6 favorites]


Russert had more than his share of controversy over bias, race-baiting, and other weirdness, but at least it seemed to come from his own views, rather than those imposed by a corporate master, so that's worth something.
posted by rokusan at 1:23 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by aletheia at 1:23 PM on June 13, 2008


. Shocking and sad indeed.

I think his whiteboard is actually at the Newseum. My guess is they will have a exhibit on his career up on-line and at the museum itself by morning.
posted by pithy comment at 1:24 PM on June 13, 2008


A real journalist .... with a capital "J."

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posted by notjustfoxybrown at 1:24 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by odasaku at 1:24 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by tommasz at 1:25 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by cabingirl at 1:25 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by Stynxno at 1:25 PM on June 13, 2008


Sad. They don't seem to be making new ones of these guys. And I don't mean that in some goofy "they broke the mold!" way either. This should pretty much be the default setting for serious TV journalists. Instead we have Fox hacks. Sad.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:28 PM on June 13, 2008


Tim Russert explaining the math with a marker and whiteboard.

Video | 02:23.

I think that whiteboard ended up in the Smithsonian, if memory serves...

Yes. His whiteboard from Election Night 2000 is in the Smithsonian.
posted by ericb at 1:29 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Needing to be awake at 8:00 Sunday mornings has actually spurred me to cut my Saturday nights short. Try explaining to a bunch of drunk friends that you're going home so you can watch Meet the Press in the morning.

I suggest a TiVo or other DVR.
posted by ericb at 1:31 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by josher71 at 1:31 PM on June 13, 2008


Cuz, every FPP in the history of metafilter is in-depth and interesting. I don't think people need 20 links to pad this out. They guy is on TV every day. We know who he is. Just put your dot down and walk out, man.

I liked Tim Russert. I mean, I didn't know him personally, but I'm sad he's gone, and I echo a lot of the sentiments put out into this thread.

But it also bothers me that, just because someone died, there has to be a rush to get it on the front page as quickly as possible. This is not CNN. And this is not the Drudge Report. And thank God it's not.

There could be a great post put together about Tim Russert - about his life and his times and some of his most extraordinary TV moments - and it could be a good thing and a special thing and people could reflect and mourn. This is not that thing. This is, I'm sorry, crap. I flagged it, and I'll add my dot and shut up. Sorry.

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posted by kbanas at 1:31 PM on June 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


The unrespected live on and on.

GD it.
posted by Senator at 1:33 PM on June 13, 2008


I'm going to choose to believe that this is all fake. That he released this news so that he could spend the next election cycle sitting back with a glass of wine and relaxing, feet up, flicking through the channels to see if Comedy Central was re-airing the Daily Show.

Because thinking about the alternative would be really depressing.

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posted by quin at 1:33 PM on June 13, 2008


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However. These two articles are what I always think of when I think of Russert's influence on political journalism: Tim Russert: Stop the Inanity, The Unbearable Inanity of Tim Russert.
posted by Guy Smiley at 1:33 PM on June 13, 2008 [8 favorites]


I didn't realize how much I took Russert for granted until just now. I'm amazed at how well he could draw on that crazy big knowledge base of his on the fly and make it seem like a scripted commentary. This is going to be a huge void to fill.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:34 PM on June 13, 2008


mattbucher: "Cuz, every FPP in the history of metafilter is in-depth and interesting. I don't think people need 20 links to pad this out. They guy is on TV every day. We know who he is. Just put your dot down and walk out, man."

No, he's got a point and he's utterly on-target. Death posts on Mefi are really the most pathetic level of posts we have here. They're, as he pointed out, one-link posts from people racing to be THE one who breaks the big FPP that John Schmendrick just died. And then, we get period. After period. After fucking period. And very little useful discussion whatsoever.

Compared to any other FPP on Mefi, even the SLYTs, death posts are almost universally utter, utter crap, except on those rare occasions a Mefite comes in and shares something in the comments both personal and amazing, or manages to write something poetic.

A while ago I jokingly made a comment in some therad that Mefi needed to build an API that scanned Google News for deaths and autoblocked posts on said dead individual for 48 hours post-death. Now, I think it'd be one of the best improvements pb could build onto the site.
posted by WCityMike at 1:35 PM on June 13, 2008 [7 favorites]


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posted by tozturk at 1:36 PM on June 13, 2008


This is not CNN. And this is not the Drudge Report. And thank God it's not.

Like it or not, a lot of people, myself included, treat MeFi as their morning newspaper. I think it's valid that some people would rather read and discuss current events where there is some modicum of community rather than the Yahoo-Answers-esque corporate or purely political sites. I realize this view of MeFi does not suit some, but I like to believe that the site is big enough to include those who like to post up-to-the-second breaking news.
posted by mattbucher at 1:37 PM on June 13, 2008


I would love to have had a beer with him.
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posted by not_on_display at 1:38 PM on June 13, 2008


Hell, even one step towards making it better would be for pb to install a regex filter that both forbids posts consisting of only a single period and posts that match \r.\r\r (a period on its own line followed by a paragraph break).
posted by WCityMike at 1:38 PM on June 13, 2008


holy shit, that was unexpected.

I'm one of these guys who's been watching MTP every sunday morning for almost ten years (and FTN when I had a dual-receiver tivo. bob is great but his webcast never works for me) and russert has been hugely influential on me. I will miss him deeply as he was one of those who started educating me for free about the political going ons in this country in my early days there.

I can't think of anyone who could replace him off the bat. where are the next russerts, jennings, mclaughlins? this is really a sad day and it makes me all the more nervous when charlie rose has a sore throat.
posted by krautland at 1:38 PM on June 13, 2008


"TV Guide selected his use of the white dry eraser board (Florida, Florida, Florida) on Election Night 2000 as one of the '100 Most Memorable TV Moments' in history. The Washington Post credits him with coining the phrase 'red state' and 'blue state' to explain the nation’s political divide."*
posted by ericb at 1:40 PM on June 13, 2008


Since the post is unfortunately still up, and besides the usual dots we seem to have some pretty reckless statements about Mr. Russert's work, one is sorry to have to remind everybody here, once again, that of the dead -- if one really wants to speak -- one is supposed to say the truth. Especially in the case of very powerful people like Mr. Russert.

So, this is tragic, obviously. Get your dots on. But Russert the journalist can't get a free pass -- actions have consequences. Just think of the little war he marrily promoted on an almost daily basis for these last few years.

Let's not pretend Mr. Russert was even remotely nonpartisan, when in fact, as demonstrated by countless examples (YouTube is merciless like that, check out this montage), Russert -- who proudly wore his GWB pin in 2000 on the inside of his lapel and called the election 19 times in Bush's favor on election night 2000, ie about 40 days before the SCOTUS chose who was going to serve as President the following January -- was always shamelessly spinning for the Republicans. Unless you're too naive to recognize spin when you see it, of course.

A passionate swift-boater who created the perfect environment -- "the best format", as former Cheney communications director Cathie Martin described Meet the Press when testifying at the Libby trial -- for Republican talking points and Republican framing.

Let's see:
Russert’s behavior throughout the debate was rather bizarre. He interrupted Clinton constantly and made ridiculously offensive insinuations of anti-Semitism against Obama on the fallacious logic of transitive relationships. (Very reminiscent of how he asked Obama his opinion of an anti-Bush statement made by Harry Belafonte, for no other reason than the shared color of their skin) How considerate of him to help out the GOP by starting his own Republican oppo whisper campaigns against the Democratic candidate right there in the middle of the debate.
You don't have to believe me, just Google his stuff, the videos are out there. The death of Russert the man is of course tragic. But Russert the media professional was actually a dutiful spokesman for the Republican party -- Jack Welch's boy to the very end.

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posted by matteo at 1:40 PM on June 13, 2008 [54 favorites]


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posted by hellojed at 1:43 PM on June 13, 2008


I think his whiteboard is actually at the Newseum.

Actually, I think you are right. He was a trustee of the Newseum.

About his use of the eraser board in the 2000 election:
And the reason that I started using graphics on the show when I took over 13 years ago, was people said -- one of the executives at NBC said, "Why are you showing graphics on the screen? That's 1950s TV." I said, "What was wrong with ‘50s TV? It was black and white and understandable." At the 2000 election when I pulled out my little board and wrote "Florida, Florida, Florida," I was trying to explain to people that the electoral college was in play and that Florida was in play and this is how it was to be decided. And Tom Brokaw kept saying, "Well, we got six states … " I said, "Tom, Florida, this is it. No matter what happens in Florida, that's the winner.
posted by ericb at 1:44 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


died Friday after being stricken at the bureau

Uh, what in the hell does that mean? It sounds like a vague euphemism for something unspeakably hilarious.

But, sadly, no. This really, really sucks. Totally unexpected.

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posted by Sys Rq at 1:47 PM on June 13, 2008


There could be a great post put together about Tim Russert - about his life and his times and some of his most extraordinary TV moments - and it could be a good thing and a special thing and people could reflect and mourn.

People seem to be contributing interesting anecdotes, links, etc. After all, this is a community blog. I think of MetaFiler more like an expanding scrapbook or engaging cocktail or dinner party with many having something to add ... even with various derailes, just as most real-world discussions meander and evolve.
posted by ericb at 1:48 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


*derails*
posted by ericb at 1:49 PM on June 13, 2008


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Crap. Always regarded him as a class act.
Not funny, God.
posted by porn in the woods at 1:49 PM on June 13, 2008


Damn. He was one of the best, regardless of affiliation.
posted by carter at 1:50 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by dontoine at 1:51 PM on June 13, 2008


Tom Brokaw's announcement of his passing is the only time that I've ever heard Tom not completely on top of things - he was stuttering, looking for words, and looked like he'd just been crying.

As for Tim:

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posted by mrbill at 1:52 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by cerebus19 at 1:54 PM on June 13, 2008


fuck. one more sane voice in a sea of lunatics drowned out for good.

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posted by rooftop secrets at 1:58 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]




"Inanity." That's exactly the word. Every Russert interview I've seen had a certain empty quality that I could never quite put my finger on, but that's exactly it. His interview were frustratingly inane, for someone who was clearly very intelligent and trying hard. If anything, Russert is emblematic of the complete failure of television journalism. He was probably the best they had, and... welll, that was the best they could do.

It's utterly tragic for (almost) anyone to die so young. So a dot for the man. And a dot for TV news, while we're at it.
posted by rusty at 2:00 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I did not always agree with the man, but I respected him. He did his job (one that is vitally important) at a level of competency beyond what was necessary and, sadly, far surpassing that which has come to be the norm. Despite his faults, he will be missed; he deserves a much better eulogy than I could give.

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posted by kyleg at 2:01 PM on June 13, 2008


This Russert no political common tater.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:01 PM on June 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


While his untimely death at such a young age is a tragedy, Tim Russert was in charge of the news division of one of the most powerful media organizations in the United States during a time when journalists abdicated their responsibility for critical oversight of the government, particularly the executive branch, and huge corporate interests.
posted by MegoSteve at 2:01 PM on June 13, 2008 [18 favorites]


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posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:02 PM on June 13, 2008


I second matteo and Guy Smiley's comments and links above - let's at least note the reality of Russert, not just indulge in thoughtless hagiography.
posted by twsf at 2:03 PM on June 13, 2008


Not funny, God.

Maybe God needed a decent election analyst hanging out with him for the craziness that's sure to come in the fall?
Having Tim Russert join you would beat trying to train up some angel for the job, I guess.
posted by gemmy at 2:04 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:08 PM on June 13, 2008


Now we have a void of biased, pseudo-journalistic, right wing pandering and gotcha questions to anyone out of the beltway's little clique.

As a man, I'm sure he'll be missed, but as an analyst, we can do with an upgrade.
posted by Chuffy at 2:08 PM on June 13, 2008


I wonder if we're going to see a lot of people who bet their careers on this losing Republican team going out in a similar way now?

It has to be pretty stressful to be in a state of cognitive dissonance all the time; be smart enough to see what's happening but still be in thrall to the bumbling looter Party.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:09 PM on June 13, 2008


WCityMike: Death posts on Mefi are really the most pathetic level of posts we have here.

Then why not just stay the fuck out of them?
posted by applemeat at 2:10 PM on June 13, 2008 [5 favorites]


No, he's got a point and he's utterly on-target. Death posts on Mefi are really the most pathetic level of posts we have here. They're, as he pointed out, one-link posts from people racing to be THE one who breaks the big FPP that John Schmendrick just died. And then, we get period. After period. After fucking period.

I don't mind "death posts" at all, and I don't think it means a thing who posts them "first". I don't even notice who posts them.

Inevitably, there are also anecdotes from people who knew or met the person who died, and I find these always interesting... much more interesting than what most of the rest of the web features, which is just vanilla obit blurbage.
posted by rokusan at 2:13 PM on June 13, 2008


A huge loss for journalism, for NBC, and for all the interested viewers out there.

... and all, but I'm here in D.C. and the on-air wankery of the 5pm local news is PAINFUL. Our local ambulance-chaser Pat Collins went down to Capitol Hill, to chase down Pols and get their opinions. Buchanan, the Pres'nit and the rest of them of course had nothing but good little sound-bites to offer to his memory.
posted by vhsiv at 2:17 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by ericbop at 2:17 PM on June 13, 2008


Thanks for such a great, in-depth, interesting post.

You're welcome.
posted by swift at 2:18 PM on June 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow, the comments on Hillaryis44 are just... awful.
posted by dosterm at 2:19 PM on June 13, 2008


Here is the clip of Tom Brokaw announcing the news. you can just hear the pain in his voice, struggling to keep his composure as he reads from the prompter.
posted by pithy comment at 2:21 PM on June 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


Sadder still, I wouldn't be surprised if the word is he "just had a full check-up" or some other meaningless comment implying his good health, since a guy of his stature is unlikely to skip exams.

This is pretty much exactly what happened to my father. Less than a month after a check-up where the doctor said he was doing great - during a time when he had been dieting and working out and finally successfully losing weight - he was diagnosed with stage IV esophageal cancer. It just was almost completely asymptomatic at that point, and would've taken a pretty invasive look to find.

While I share the misgivings about his political leanings and how they affected his professional work, my heart goes out to his family.
posted by flaterik at 2:21 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by paulus andronicus at 2:21 PM on June 13, 2008


Another proud moment for Hillaryis44.org

Holy shit:
Admin, I will not be polite… Karma baby that is all I will say, first Kennedy and his brain tumor, then the flooding in Iowa and now Russert… Obamatrons beware the wrath of God, you could be next
posted by delmoi at 2:23 PM on June 13, 2008


Wow, the comments on Hillaryis44 are just... awful.

So what else is new?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:23 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by pointystick at 2:24 PM on June 13, 2008


So Mr. Meet the Press Meets His Maker (to use a popular euphemism).

There were many politicians who wished Russert would drop dead, but none of them expected he would ever comply.

And in the middle of a Presidential Campaign, that's what I call an untimely death.

The battle to decide who will be his successor at NBC News and what effect it will have on its coverage may be more interesting (and uglier) than the Campaign itself. I hope TVNewser has plenty of reliable sources.
posted by wendell at 2:24 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by Ironmouth at 2:26 PM on June 13, 2008


Seems like he was pretty tough on McCain here, about a year ago.
posted by erikgrande at 2:28 PM on June 13, 2008


De mortuis nisi bonum.
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posted by rdone at 2:29 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by The White Hat at 2:31 PM on June 13, 2008


I'm watching CNN's coverage and they're bringing in all manner of experts and journalists, and reporters to comment on Russert's life and impact and dammit, every time they bring a new person I honestly think, "I just wanna hear Tim Russert's take on this."

Really. Tell us what's gonna happen next Sunday Tim, we need to know.
posted by Science! at 2:34 PM on June 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Another proud moment for Hillaryis44.org

Not that the comments here are any better.
posted by smackfu at 2:36 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Loved the book he wrote about his father.
posted by Xurando at 2:36 PM on June 13, 2008


Not that the comments here are any better.

Zing! The comments on CNN's blog are all "God Bless Him! My Prayers are with the Family. I am truley sorry for your lots." And they don't even charge $5!
posted by mattbucher at 2:41 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oddly enough, Republicans are actually people, too. And anyone who thinks that Russert was the first, and the last, media person to spin things his own way are delusional.
posted by Dave Faris at 2:42 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Loved the book he wrote about his father.

And the follow-up: Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons.

And the sad timing of his death -- two days before Father's Day.
posted by ericb at 2:43 PM on June 13, 2008


For a guy who put such emphasis on his dad, it's poignant that he should die on Father's Day weekend. He was probably prepping another tribute to Big Russ for the show Sunday.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:44 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by sidesh0w at 2:49 PM on June 13, 2008


I certainly hope Mr. Russert rests in peace, but I will not take this moment to compliment his "journalism," lest we forget how utterly media news has failed us, and how much of journalism is dead alongside him. I think Glen Greenwald said it best:

Or they'll point to "liberal" Tim Russert -- Tim Russert -- about whom Cheney press aide Cathy Martin said: "I suggested we put the vice president on 'Meet the Press,' which was a tactic we often used. It's our best format, as it allows us to control the message." That's the same "liberal" Tim Russert who confessed that he operates by the defining law of the Government propagandist: "When I talk to senior government officials on the phone, it's my own policy -- our conversations are confidential. If I want to use anything from that conversation, then I will ask permission." Those are the examples proving that we have a "liberal media."
posted by mek at 2:52 PM on June 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


maybe he wasn't a bastion of impartiality and he wasn't, but he was, as brokaw says, 'one of the premiere political analysts & journalists of his time.' he's been an anchor and a staple of news for 20-some years and for that reason if nothing else i'll miss him.
posted by msconduct at 2:56 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by prodigalsun at 3:00 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by futility closet at 3:03 PM on June 13, 2008


Goddammit. As a Canuckistani, I really appreciated Russert's "Go Fuck Yourself" attitude to the Powers That Be, whether they were powerful political figures or whatever, from whichever end of the spectrum. He asked hard, intelligent questions but rarely strayed from a centrist standpoint, and as someone else already mentioned, he always tried to be reasonable.

Well crap. Now I'm depressed. Can we trade dorks like Bill O'Reilly to get Russert back? I'll even thrown in Ann Coulter.

Many sympathies to his friends and many more to his family.
posted by illiad at 3:04 PM on June 13, 2008


I will miss his almost childlike joy in explaining how things might go during election night programs. :(
posted by bjgeiger at 3:06 PM on June 13, 2008


Well crap. Now I'm depressed. Can we trade dorks like Bill O'Reilly to get Russert back? I'll even thrown in Ann Coulter.

That is tasteless, crass and ignorant in this one man's opinion.
posted by dawson at 3:10 PM on June 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


Here's Obama and McCain's reactions to the news, if anyone is interested.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:11 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by wowbobwow at 3:15 PM on June 13, 2008


Tim Russert was the man. He was a part of the family.

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posted by duncan42 at 3:23 PM on June 13, 2008


That is tasteless, crass and ignorant in this one man's opinion.

Tasteless perhaps, but it's a very good offer.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:27 PM on June 13, 2008


In a week of "Obama's baby mama" and "terrorist fist jab" this is extra depressing
posted by beccaj at 3:35 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by ianaces at 3:35 PM on June 13, 2008


Metatalk

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posted by Navelgazer at 3:42 PM on June 13, 2008


Our local ambulance-chaser Pat Collins went down to Capitol Hill, to chase down Pols and get their opinions.

I could be wrong but I believe Tim Russert was the general manager of Channel 4 so Pat Collins probably knew him pretty well.
posted by smoothvirus at 3:44 PM on June 13, 2008



I am sorry for his death as a human being and the loss to his family and friends-- but as a journalist, he symbolized the relentless focus on the trivial ups and downs of the "horse race" and the politics of personality and the idea that issues matter only in terms of how they affect that, which continues to poison politics and journalism.

Economic policy does not just matter in terms of "how will it play for Bush if he does X"-- it matters much more in terms of what effect will X have on the economy and on those affected by it.

One small example: he had Bill Moyers on to promote the documentary series on addiction I worked for him on. Russert spent the entire time asking him about his son's addiction and his experience of that-- failing to ask a single question about drug policy or about what he'd found about the massive failure of the war on drugs.

Moyers actually closed the documentary by comparing the WOD to Viet Nam-- but did Russert ask about whether that meant we should decriminalize or anything that would suggest important matters of policy affecting millions of people and that might actually make news? No. More important to get the gossip.

And it's that point of view, in part, that produces our current policy stupidities across the board since everyone is far more focused on how the policy will look than on how it will work.
posted by Maias at 3:44 PM on June 13, 2008 [12 favorites]


shocking and so sad. Damn.
posted by longsleeves at 3:47 PM on June 13, 2008


I love him so much it hurts.
posted by cowbellemoo at 3:51 PM on June 13, 2008


I've never mistaken Russert for any type of objective journalist or as advancing political discourse in anyway... his interviews were hard hitting directly in inverse proportion the importance of the guest. His last interview with Bush was laughably soft peddled with Russert practically gushing.

Still I've watched Meet the Press almost every week for many years now. I'll miss his presence on the show.
posted by wfrgms at 3:52 PM on June 13, 2008


I think his whiteboard is actually at the Newseum. Actually, I think you are right. He was a trustee of the Newseum.

On this evening's NBC Nightly News Pete Williams mentioned that the Smithsonian requested the "Florida-Florida-Florida" whiteboard from the 2000 Election for its collection.
posted by ericb at 3:52 PM on June 13, 2008


Wow, what a shock! I mainly watched Meet The Press every week because of Tim. Yeah, he wasn't always harsh enough, depending on the guest, but by and large, he asked a whole lot of questions that I would have asked myself, and I appreciated that.

If there's an afterlife, I'm sure Tim will ask God or Satan or Whoever some interesting questions!
posted by jamstigator at 3:57 PM on June 13, 2008


He might have been a lackluster journalist, but he was our type of lackluster journalist: a regular blue-collar type of guy from Buffalo who you'd want to drink a beer with while talking about how great dads are. He was easy to like and he never called you and if you ever called him, he'd assume anything you said was off the record. If, during your conversation, you happened to illegally out a spy for political retribution, why, he'd resist testifying that you ever leaked anything and he sure wouldn't bring it up on his show. He was the type of journalist you'd want to invite to your radio show after you made a racist comment, cause you knew he wasn't going to give your a hard time about it. Tim Russert may not have ever given us a definitive answer as to why we should go to war before we invaded, or why we did afterwards, but he could rock a dry erase board live on national tv. He was an American journalist whose head filled our tv screens every Sunday morning, and despite his shortcomings, he did his job better than most. He'll be missed.
posted by Staggering Jack at 3:58 PM on June 13, 2008 [9 favorites]


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posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:00 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sorry if my above comment was overly snarky. I enjoyed watching Tim Russert (which made his shortcomings that much worse) and I'm sorry that he is gone.
posted by Staggering Jack at 4:01 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by notclosed at 4:03 PM on June 13, 2008


Been watching Keith Olberman on MSNBC. Poor guy looks like he's really struggling to hold back the floodgates. Augh. Just such a stark surprise. He leaves very large shoes to fill.
posted by wowbobwow at 4:05 PM on June 13, 2008


I always liked Russert, even though he had a maddening tendency to take a non-answer at face value after barely pressing his interviewee with a followup. He was one of the greats, though. I'm not sure if Meet the Press could have survived this long without him, and I'm not sure if they can ever find a worthwhile replacement (though he was not anywhere near the first host, but he was the longest-standing, IIRC). There is some talent in the NBC stable, but not that quality. I'd like to see Bill Moyers offered the job, but he's essentially retired and probably wouldn't want to work for a major.

What will become of Sunday mornings? This is going to be a long summer ...
posted by krinklyfig at 4:10 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by mkim at 4:16 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by ZachsMind at 4:24 PM on June 13, 2008


Everyone who's criticizing Russert as biased must have missed a lot of interviews he did with McCain, who would inevitably get hit hard on Meet the Press. Russert wasn't afraid to accuse McCain of "a direct contradiction" to his face -- something most quasi-objective interviewers aren't willing to do.

The idea that he neglected policy is ridiculous. He would often barrage guests with detailed numbers having to do with policy issues and force them to respond. He was well-known for being passionate about Social Security policy in particular.

As for the idea that he didn't always follow up if someone gave a weak answer, who cares? For one thing, it's blatantly not true -- he would follow up relentlessly. But anyway, what matters is asking the tough questions in the first place; if the guest gives a weak answer or non-answer, the viewer is free to infer that the guest was nothing impressive to say. Russert held people accountable.

I support Obama and would have preferred that he had gone a little easier on my candidate in that one rough debate, but ... the guy just died. Forest for the trees!

He was hard on everyone regardless of their political persuasion, he was a great journalist, and my Sunday mornings aren't going to be the same.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:37 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by sarcasticah at 4:40 PM on June 13, 2008


*has nothing impressive to say
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:44 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by konolia at 4:45 PM on June 13, 2008


Well, at least we'll have him in reruns.
posted by hal9k at 4:46 PM on June 13, 2008


In a more perfect world Staggering Jack's comment would have been the FPP.
posted by Dizzy at 4:56 PM on June 13, 2008


I always liked Russert, even though he had a maddening tendency to take a non-answer at face value after barely pressing his interviewee with a followup.

Actually, I think he dwelt on follow-ups perhaps too much, and would gladly beat dead horses for half an hour while I would scream at the TV "OK, we get it! On to the next question!"

His interviews with Bush and Cheney were so wimpy that it killed my otherwise solid opinion of him as hard-hitting. BUT, criticism aside, for the most part he was a tough interviewer, and his knowledge of history and politics was encyclopedic.

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posted by zardoz at 4:57 PM on June 13, 2008


The corporate media is less than worthless for news and political commentary. They aided and abetted the Bush neo-cons during the run up to the debacle in Iraq. And, with the possible exception of Katrina, they stuck right with them on every issue through thick and thin while the country went to hell. I don’t get all this bathos over a tool, when the network can just go out and buy a new one.
posted by Huplescat at 4:59 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by Mblue at 5:01 PM on June 13, 2008


Stay classy, Hillaryis44.com.

Russert could be frustrating to watch at times, but overall there isn't anyone else like him. He'll be missed.
posted by mullingitover at 5:05 PM on June 13, 2008


The corporate media is...

...not dead. Tim Russert is.

It's one thing to point out someone's faults along with their strengths when they've died. But to turn someone's death into an opportunity to launch into one unoriginal, uninformative rant after another about the "corporate media" is really tasteless.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:17 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


.

Death takes us by surprise sometimes :(


As for you idiots whining about this post, this isn't a symposium on the life and death of Tim Russert. It's a place for us to come and grieve over his loss. Get over it.
posted by UseyurBrain at 5:23 PM on June 13, 2008


So young.


Damn.

.

Let this remind you all: Do not put off anything you really want to accomplish with your life. Do not let emotional wounds and rifts with close friends and family members go . You, or they, really could drop dead tomorrow.
posted by tkchrist at 5:31 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


He'll be hard to replace, if not impossible.

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posted by brain cloud at 5:32 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by brandz at 5:35 PM on June 13, 2008


There goes my Sunday morning yell-fest (a tradition of many years now). Sigh.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:36 PM on June 13, 2008


Jaltcoh writes "As for the idea that he didn't always follow up if someone gave a weak answer, who cares? For one thing, it's blatantly not true -- he would follow up relentlessly. But anyway, what matters is asking the tough questions in the first place; if the guest gives a weak answer or non-answer, the viewer is free to infer that the guest was nothing impressive to say. Russert held people accountable. "

I don't really want to argue this point, but a regular occurrence for me was being flabbergasted that he didn't continue down a particular line of questioning, or yelling at the tv that he just let someone lie to him and he let it go. I liked him, believe me, but it was always frustrating watching him interview, particularly in the years 2002-2005. As for particular examples, I don't have an encyclopedic memory, but here's something I found after a quick search.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:37 PM on June 13, 2008


What does the . mean when not used to end a sentence?
posted by kldickson at 5:40 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by edmcbride at 5:42 PM on June 13, 2008


.

Now we are stuck with the likes of Chris Matthews, Glenn Beck, et al.
posted by bad grammar at 5:43 PM on June 13, 2008


zardoz writes "Actually, I think he dwelt on follow-ups perhaps too much, and would gladly beat dead horses for half an hour while I would scream at the TV 'OK, we get it! On to the next question!' "

To be more specific, he failed to follow up many times when it would have made a huge difference, and sometimes he got too hung up on little points that didn't really matter. He got fooled by Bush, but I don't think he was ever trying to play the game, rather than report on it.

I really do want to say, however, he loved the political game and worked very hard at his job, especially in research. I don't think he ever was a tool, but more like he came to his conclusions about politics on his own; I often disagreed, but he did his homework and was no ordinary talking head. He was always classy, as others have mentioned, and in many ways he was the perfect moderator for the longest running program, news or otherwise. If he were too pointed, he probably couldn't have stayed in that role. But what made him good for that role also made him frustrating to watch ... I will miss him, all the same.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:50 PM on June 13, 2008


I don't really want to argue this point, but a regular occurrence for me was being flabbergasted that he didn't continue down a particular line of questioning, ...

I'm watching an old interview of his with McCain right now that utterly discredits what you're saying (video). He questions him over and over again on Iraq strategy.

For the past few months there have been these anti-Russert memes spreading around the internet that everyone keeps repeating without knowing what they're talking about. I've watched probably all of his interviews with the 2008 candidates, always rooting for Obama, and was not disappointed with how he held their feet to the fire.

I despise most TV interviewers and TV news in general. Russert stood above all the rest. The fact that he's singled out in a negative way is just bizarre.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:53 PM on June 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yet Larry King still lives, sort of.
posted by TimTypeZed at 5:54 PM on June 13, 2008


'
posted by young_simba at 5:58 PM on June 13, 2008


Jaltcoh writes "I'm watching an old interview of his with McCain right now that utterly discredits what you're saying (video). He questions him over and over again on Iraq strategy."

Yeah. Wish he was doing that years ago to Bush.

"For the past few months there have been these anti-Russert memes spreading around the internet that everyone keeps repeating without knowing what they're talking about."

Oh, come now. I have had these opinions for years, and I came to them on my own.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:11 PM on June 13, 2008


.

Damn. I so enjoyed him on MTP. Sure, he wasn't perfect, but a hell of a lot better, and a tougher interviewer, than so many others in journalism. It's telling that his colleagues seem honestly broken up about this.

(And I hate when people die of heart attacks. Especially on the 13th of the month. Crap, it puts the fear in me, to be honest. They probably took him to GWU too, the same ride I took.)
posted by orthogonality at 6:16 PM on June 13, 2008


VERY sad. RIP.
posted by dbiedny at 6:33 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by Busithoth at 6:45 PM on June 13, 2008


Howard Fineman: The Gold Standard -- "Tim Russert's legacy—in politics and in life."
posted by ericb at 6:54 PM on June 13, 2008


Very sad. He will be missed.
posted by b1ff at 6:55 PM on June 13, 2008


.

I really miss him already. I hope they have a retrospective this Sunday.
posted by bshort at 7:05 PM on June 13, 2008


The fact that he's singled out in a negative way is just bizarre.

Or, it could be that you just simply missed most of his absolute worst moments - of which there were many. Have you considered trying to read and respond to the specific, detailed arguments of Glenn Greenwald and the other thoughtful critiques linked in this thread? You're not doing your cause any good by your current strategy.
posted by mediareport at 7:05 PM on June 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


I haven't read a bit of this thread, 'cause I know once I start I'll get sucked into 3 hours of amazing things about Tim Russert. God DAMN this is a kick in the gut.

What I did want to say here is how impressed I was today with the rapid response of news organizations to this development. Within half an hour, CNN was doing wall-to-wall commentary, with call-ins from the likes of Tony Snow, Ted Koppel, Larry King and so forth, and the NewsHour tonight put together a nice piece, and I imagine that Washington Week pulled something off this evening too (missed it).

I'm sure Sunday's MTP will be tough to watch, but it'll be a must see.

Damn I'm going to miss him bringing it.

Finally, a bit fat

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posted by intermod at 7:10 PM on June 13, 2008


I walk into the house from work and my dad told me about this. This news hits me like a ton of bricks. Last I remember him on TV was when Obama clinched the nomination, and he was remarking on the enormity of the moment in US and World history, or at least that is what I got from it.

Lord be with him

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posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:14 PM on June 13, 2008


This is truly sad. He was one of the only journalist that I genuinely liked. I guess because that's what he was. One of the few true journalists.
posted by noriyori at 7:15 PM on June 13, 2008


mediareport: Have you considered trying to read and respond to the specific, detailed arguments of Glenn Greenwald and the other thoughtful critiques linked in this thread?

Hmmm, Crooks and Liars? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
posted by dhammond at 7:42 PM on June 13, 2008


One of the good guys .
posted by netbros at 8:11 PM on June 13, 2008


I am utterly mystified by the Russert love. I must only attribute it to nostalgia or conservative views which little Timmy did so much to help. I never wished him dead, but in an America that had a truly independent press, he would never have been considered an eminent media pillar; he would have been reading the Iowa City evening news and joking with the weathergirl.

Not saying he was dumb, he wasn't; but if he was ever committed to doing real journalism, he lost his will somewhere at a press junket paid for by the Beltway's exclusive little club, and never looked back. His being considered any kind of "hard hitter" is a more eloquent commentary on our media than any number of op-eds.
posted by emjaybee at 8:21 PM on June 13, 2008 [10 favorites]


shit
posted by ersatzkat at 8:54 PM on June 13, 2008


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posted by snuffleupagus at 9:02 PM on June 13, 2008


.
posted by OolooKitty at 9:05 PM on June 13, 2008


My dad died from a massive heart attack when he was fifty. It was a Thursday morning and he had been at work for a couple of hours. He hated his job. I always thought what a shitty way to go, to die while at work. But I always got the impression from watching Tim Russert that he loved his job. R.I.P.
posted by Sailormom at 9:26 PM on June 13, 2008


But this contradicts his earlier position, that of being alive.



I'll let you all respond to that.
posted by eustatic at 10:58 PM on June 13, 2008


"enormity" means "awfulness", not "enormousness".

And it'll be easy to replace this guy; there are lots of other people who'll suck up to the people in power.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:09 AM on June 14, 2008


my thoughts on Russert's death (self-link)
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:00 AM on June 14, 2008


Hmmm, Crooks and Liars? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

No, I got sick of Crooks and Liars-style political blogging long ago, and their insistence on deleting any reference to the Kuwait incubator baby-killing story in threads about Tom Lantos was the final disgusting straw. I was referring to Greenwald, the Washington Monthly and the American Prospect, among others. Critical discussions of Russert's awful approach to celebrity journalism aren't hard to find. In fact, anyone who actually bothered to click the clearly labelled critical links in this thread before puking up "BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" would have found them.
posted by mediareport at 6:33 AM on June 14, 2008


"enormity" means "awfulness", not "enormousness"

*eeek* uh... yeah, meant the last of that: enormousness, not the middle of that.

(somedays I scare myself when I find the weak areas of my english...)

And I am an Obama supporter, so that really does not bode well for me... =O
posted by JoeXIII007 at 6:44 AM on June 14, 2008


I have no idea who this guy is, his achievements or why he meant this much to the U.S. contingent. Some context would have been fitting I think. Anyways...

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posted by brautigan at 7:19 AM on June 14, 2008


"enormity" means "awfulness", not "enormousness"

Actually, it means both. Were I trying for the pedantry prize, I'd even argue that the latter is more correct; consider this.

posted by Sys Rq at 7:21 AM on June 14, 2008


I admire what a good husband, father, and son Russert was; he apparently was a mentor for young journalists and much beloved by colleagues; he certainly loved his job and had a wide breadth of knowledge. It's a shame he was taken from his family in the prime of his life.

But as for his journalism, I must throw my hat in with matteo and other critics. In the 2000 election debacle, Russert was markedly anti-Gore and pro-Bush, and his TV coverage on election night did much to set the tone of Gore the "sore loser" and Bush the victor; in the buildup to the war, Russert repeatedly stacked the deck with republicans and was a willing shill for the administration. His interviews soft-balled Bush, Cheney and their ilk. He was a huge part of the corporate media machine that gave us the last 8 years. The hagiography of the man as a journalist is a sad commentary on the state of independent news reporting, that we are satisfied with so little and are willing to accept this as an example of "unbiased." I repost the Daily Howler link on Russert that jayder posted - it is illuminating reading. We should demand a lot more objectivity from our media before canonizing them.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:34 AM on June 14, 2008 [6 favorites]


Strange that he worked for two of the most liberal politicians of the era before going into journalism, yet is labeled here as pro-Bush, pro-conservative.

Are liberals not happy unless they are playing the victim card?
posted by Senator at 7:56 AM on June 14, 2008


Are liberals not happy unless they are playing the victim card?

Yes, it's odd. I, and pretty much everyone I know, liked the guy (not worshiped, he was simply a slighly better than avarage host and a political junkie) but knew he was an old-fashioned Tip O'Neil liberal politically. That is just pretty damn self-evident. I would never come into such a thread and say 'good, I hope he suffers in hell!' like so many do when someone labeled conservative dies.
I guess my point is that Russet was his own man and if he was intelligent enough to be politically schizophrenic good for that courage.
An astute political genius knows it's not all black and white. That Bush is not pure evil, and neither is Hillary. And Obama is a flawed man like all of us. A cool cat, but yeah, has issues.
They are just people with opinions that are largely grow out of the time and place they were born, their parents, their youthful rebellion and a dozen other random factors.
A person dies, do we have to use that time of sorrow to air our puny political leanings that will probably change with the wind?
posted by dawson at 9:25 AM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am not an astute political genius, Russert was.
posted by dawson at 9:27 AM on June 14, 2008


Not that obit threads are sacred, but this seems like a pretty tacky time to complain about your disagreements with the man. I didn't see Russert as the right-wing hack some of you seem to think he was, but I don't feel like arguing about it.

I don't envy whoever has to follow him on Meet the Press. He left quite a legacy to live up to. I respected him and I mourn him. This election won't be half as fun without him.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:31 AM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Condolences to his wife and family.

But man, if Russert was "one of the best," what an indictment of the American press corps that is. Granted, he was bright, he liked politics, and was less loathsome than the Glenn Becks and Anne Coulters of the world, but really -- did he ever say anything truly original? Truly insightful? Truly meaningful? IMO, he just managed to spin insider conventional wisdom in a folksy-cutesy, highly camera-friendly way. This makes him a talented talking head, but I really don't think the title "journalist" should apply to him.

"astute political genius"

Huh? Really? Where? And when? I don't see it.
posted by bardic at 9:48 AM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]



Huh? Really? Where? And when? I don't see it.

Admittedly I have a very narrow frame of reference and a loose definition of 'genius' ('Talent might be the better word). There aren't a surfeit of political heavyweights in the US media that I'm aware of. So he sorta stood out I guess.
posted by dawson at 9:55 AM on June 14, 2008


isn't
posted by dawson at 9:57 AM on June 14, 2008


Strange that he worked for two of the most liberal politicians of the era before going into journalism
Yes, and John Dean once worked for Nixon. People's politics change over the course of their lives, particularly when they earn millions and are rising stars in giant corporations. If he was a liberal once, it was not evident in the last decade of his very influential position.

I would never come into such a thread and say 'good, I hope he suffers in hell!'
Maybe I missed it, but I don't see anybody doing that in this thread. I too am sometimes troubled when someone rudely trashes the subject of an obit thread - simply because it is insensitive to those who are sad about the death.

Pretty tacky time to complain about your disagreements with the man
This is a public discussion about the life and death of a public figure, not a private wake among his personal friends and relatives. Many people are effusive about his body of work and others disagree - and seem to be doing that respectfully for the most part. Are only praiseworthy comments about public figures considered acceptable just because someone has died?
posted by madamjujujive at 10:10 AM on June 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


Tim Russert was not unbiased newsman. Who could be, seeing his father work two jobs, Catholic school education and being taught there is dignity in all work while supporting your family.

My memories will be of Tim Russert as the family man and books he wrote about his father, son and country. He will be missed, and his like will not come along again very soon.

RIP.
posted by brickman at 10:33 AM on June 14, 2008


EmJayBee: "if he was ever committed to doing real journalism, he lost his will somewhere at a press junket paid for by the Beltway's exclusive little club, and never looked back. His being considered any kind of "hard hitter" is a more eloquent commentary on our media than any number of op-eds"

Tim Russert looked Dick Cheney square in the eye and said, "Many Americans and many people around the world are asking one question: Why is it acceptable for the United States to lead a military attack against a nation that has not attacked the United States? What’s your answer?"

Then here's the kicker. He let Cheney answer. He didn't try to twist Cheney's words around. He didn't interrupt. Go back and read the transcript. He let Cheney dig his own holes and wallow in them. Russert let the American people decide for themselves. That was his job. That's what a great journalist does. Get the facts, and present them to the people. Then let the people figure it out on their own.

A great journalist doesn't try to take facts and pervert them for his own means. That's for the Michael Moores of the world. And I don't mean to diss Moore. He's an okay guy. I like his stuff, but I can smell propaganda when I whiff it, whether it's liberal or conservative bullshit.

Tim Russert had his own opinions and maybe sometimes those opinions clouded his judgment a little. We're all human here.

Tim Russert looked Dick Cheney, little Georgie's own personal pet dragon, square in the face and asked him the question we all wanted to hear. He stared that dragon down, and he handed Dick the rope. That's all he had to do. What Dick did with that rope wasn't Tim's fault, but he did provide the stage for it to be set.

That was his job. He did it well. God bless Russert's family and friends and anyone who wants to serve journalism as Russert did.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:43 AM on June 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


Zachsmind, did you see the linkage up-thread regarding the fact that the Cheney press operation considered Russert's show to be the best one for them to spin propaganda?

Look -- Russert was a capable talking head. He did interviews. He was likeable. And at times, he scored points with me for not tossing perpetual softballs at politicians. But the anecdote you mention, while significant, is a drop in the bucket compared to the structural deficiencies of our current "personality" based journalism, where likeability and tough-guy posturing (granted, Chris Matthews is more about this) passes for journalistic integrity. Russert played no small part in establishing and maintaining this system.

IMO, at no point in his career did he "serve journalism." Dana Priest does that. She does the hard work of going out and finding facts, making connections, and blowing the roof off of stories like the CIA "black holes" or the Army VA scandal. Russert didn't.

As for the meta-discussion regarding obit-filter, let me suggest that we serve Tim Russert's memory better by asking more of the press and having discussions such as this one. Again, condolences to his family and friends and fans.
posted by bardic at 11:32 AM on June 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


John Edwards explains why the "gotcha" charge doesn't make sense. (5:40 to end of clip)
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:33 AM on June 14, 2008


John Edwards and Keith Olbermann, that is.

The idea that Russert was a right-wing puppet is absurd.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:34 AM on June 14, 2008


I would never come into such a thread and say 'good, I hope he suffers in hell!'
Maybe I missed it, but I don't see anybody doing that in this thread.


Not this thread, madam. Note my full thought:
I would never come into such a thread and say 'good, I hope he suffers in hell!' like so many do when someone labeled conservative die.

I'm thinking of oh, maybe someone like Chuck Heston and that abortion of a thread.
I didn't see conservatives rushing here to thank Christ that Ted Kennedy has a terrible cancer, or Robert Byrd has dementia but if it were Bush or Cheney, hoo boy and katie bar the door, would not many self described liberals orgasm in their trousers as if their own political opinions were somehow vindicated by some capricious, vindictive, leftist god?
posted by dawson at 11:41 AM on June 14, 2008


The idea that Russert was a right-wing puppet is absurd.

Exactly. Russert was close friends with the Kennedys, especially RFK and Ted. Ethel Kennedy spoke on last night's NBC Nightly News about Russert. I don't think a "right-wing puppet" would pal up with one of the most liberal families in the country.
posted by ericb at 12:39 PM on June 14, 2008


"When he was named host of 'Meet the Press' in 1991, Russert called the show's founder, Lawrence E. Spivak, then 91, and asked for advice. Spivak replied: 'It's simple. Learn as much as you can about your guests' positions on the issues, and then take the other side. If you do that faithfully every Sunday, you'll always have balance.'"*
posted by ericb at 12:41 PM on June 14, 2008


I wonder if Welch'll give his nuts back so he can be buried intact.
posted by cookie-k at 1:25 PM on June 14, 2008


Journalists who are friends with their subjects might find themselves having to choose between their friends and their obligation to their readers or viewers.

I've never understood how being friends with lots of insiders was supposed to help a journalist do their job better. Do you exploit your friends? Do you protect your friends? Do your friends know that it's safe to talk to you? Are your friends supposed to fear you? Should they? Shouldn't they?

How the hell does that work, exactly?
posted by dglynn at 4:12 PM on June 14, 2008


How the hell does that work, exactly?

It doesn't.

Just ask this gal.
posted by bardic at 4:45 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Two words:
Brit Hume.
posted by Dizzy at 6:44 PM on June 14, 2008


.
posted by crossoverman at 7:45 PM on June 14, 2008


Brit Hume
posted by Huplescat at 7:54 PM on June 14, 2008


Bardic: "Zachsmind, did you see the linkage up-thread regarding the fact that the Cheney press operation considered Russert's show to be the best one for them to spin propaganda?"

Yes. Cheney's people had to spin it. Yes, a lot of people fall for spin. That goes back to my theory that a lot of people don't want common sense. They want foolish sensationalism. That's perhaps for an entirely different thread.

My point is, Russert knew his job was not to tell you how to think and feel. His job was to report what was there. If audience members let spin doctors tell them how to think and feel, that was never Russert's fault.

IF Russert was ever guilty of anything, it's that he didn't always probe very well. He'd move on to the next topic cuz he was conscious of the clock. He had to keep the interview moving cuz a commercial break was always just around the corner. I woulda liked to see him dig deeper, but he dug till he got something, and then he moved on. That was his job. He did it well. That's the best compliment I think I could pay any journalist.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:27 AM on June 15, 2008


Russert and Romney smirking at each other while Ron Paul was speaking during one of the debates.

That's what I remember about Tim Russert.


I've never understood how being friends with lots of insiders was supposed to help a journalist do their job better.

It's just the opposite. To other pseudo-journalists, Russert was a great journalist. To the public (the ones who know better), Russert was just another cog in the big D.C. charade.

Because everyone in that insulated world acts like they're real journalists, everyone in that world believes they are doing important work for society. The reality is that it's bullshit what they're doing. They're as misleading to the public as their friends on The Hill and in The White House are.
posted by Zambrano at 1:01 PM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Russert was just another cog in the big D.C. charade."

Okay make no mistake. I am the last one to find the behavior of The Fourth Estate in light of the past decade acceptable behavior. You are absolutely right ZamBrano. What passes for journalism today is laughable and pathetic. There needs to be more accountability. The fact checking has been horrendous. Corporate empires and media juggernauts have risen and fallen on hearsay and rhetoric. They are wagging the dog, and we're catching fleas. "If the headline is big enough, it makes the news big enough," Kane said to Carter. It has never been more true.

So who is to save us? The Woodwards and Bernsteins of today either don't exist at all, or we never hear about them because before we can, they end up in their own personal condo right next to David Jacobs, Vincent Foster, and Jimmy Hoffa. Whether you believe in conspiracy theories or not, it's perfectly obvious that Tim Russert was not in a position to be like Woodward or Bernstein.

That's like telling a world reknowned chess player that he should sacrifice his Queen to save his Pawn. Utterly unthinkable.

The reason why Bernstein and Woodward were able to follow the trail of greed and shifty behavior in the Nixon administration some forty-five years ago, was because those two guys were NOT in the public eye. They each had nowhere near the name recognition before Watergate that they got afterward. They were on the whole anonymous, hungry, reckless reporters. So if anyone's in a position to be the Woodwards and Bernsteins of today, it'd be people underneath men like Russert. People who are not in the public eye. People whose moves are daily dissected by everyone from paparazzi to Bushie's 'handlers.'

Or, to be more blunt about it, people like you. If you run a blog of your own, and you're hungry and reckless and on the whole anonymous, maybe you can be the next 'Drudge.' Maybe you can find something nobody else is seeing. Maybe you can save the world from itself and keep the wag from dogging.

However, to accuse Tim Russert of being a part of the problem? That he's just another cog in The Machine? Dear God in Heaven, Russert was not a part of the problem.

TIM RUSSERT WAS ONE OF THE FEW COGS IN THAT MACHINE STILL TRYING TO GET THE MACHINE TO DO WHAT IT WAS DESIGNED TO DO!

If you think you can do better, get up off your ass and go do better. God knows we need someone now to take Russert's place in the fight for fair journalism. Might as well be you.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:18 PM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


If Russert's sudden death teaches us anything it's that you can simply go at any time, and that you probably don't want the last words you utter (or write) to be anything hateful or nasty. I'm sorry for his family that he died, but if you had to pick a way to go, his way beats out a long, painful, lingering death. He was apparently right in the middle of doing exactly what he loved. You can't ask for much better than that.
posted by Dave Faris at 7:54 AM on June 16, 2008


Actually, you've painted a false dilemma ZachsMind. There are plenty of solid, hard-working journos out there (I mentioned Dana Priest as a prime example), but they tend to work in print rather than television, and hence, they make much less money and get much less acclaim.

I guess we can kind of agree that for what talking-head, talking-point, sound-bite tele-journalism has become, Russert wasn't too bad. But he was part and parcel of a system that trivializes news, world events, and frankly, the intelligence of all Americans.

So at the end of the day, he put plenty of lipstick on the pig that is television journalism in America. So allow me to damn him with the faintest of praise.
posted by bardic at 9:51 AM on June 16, 2008


.
posted by hexxed at 11:13 AM on June 16, 2008


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