Was Tim Russert The Last Of A Dying Breed?
I continue to be shocked by Tim Russert's ongoing death, and I didn't even like him either personally or as a journalist. As the latter, he was merely an intermittently objective liberal. As the former, I was dismayed that he didn't speak out when Don Imus was the victim of vile accusations because of a tasteless but insignificant remark. Of course, I don't know what transpired behind the scenes, but Russert and Imus had been friends, and I felt he was one person, perhaps the only one, who could have tempered the rabid herd.
Now that Mr. Russert is gone, most likely forever, I feel compelled to focus on the consequences of his passing, because based on the direction NBC has been going, it seems to me that Tim Russert was the lone remaining impediment. He was the most tactfully biased mainstream media man I knew. He could finesse a liberal perspective better than anyone to the point where his questions sounded absolutely reasonable until you realized that none of them ever came close to being posed from a conservative perspective.
That's what made Russert as great as he was though – he was Baby Bear's porridge, neither too hot or too cold. Conservatives and Republicans could sit down with him and have a reasonable chance of making a point. Can you think of anyone else at NBC, ABC, or CBS, forget about CNN and MSNBC, who could conduct an interview without any blatant bias and where reasonable argument gets a fair hearing? Or even a fair reception?
And now, it's not even whether Russert may have been one of a kind, it's about who would be willing, much less able, to find a replacement even close to Russert's caliber? Chris Wallace is similar in his approach, and he conceals his liberalism well enough, but he'd be miserably weak if past performance is an indication of future results. And from my admittedly limited perspective, there's no one else besides Wallace who can assume the mantle of liberally slanted impartiality.
Admit it, you wouldn't be surprised one bit if another Chris – Matthews were to become the new head of Meet The Press. And you wouldn't be even too surprised if the position were offered to Keith Olberman. It wouldn't be the first time that a smaller company took over a bigger one, but it would be the first time that, by implication, NBC management had tacitly, finally, declared that standards were now completely out the window – who needs standards anyway when you have control?
If you're wondering what I mean by that since seemingly nothing has really changed in MSMland, it's that Tim Russert may have been the one man standing between any semblance of objectivity and full-blown bias, and even if he wasn't, no one else has either his capabilities or discipline. Of course, it could be a good thing in the long run if the pretense of objectivity is eliminated from the network mix, but even if it is, the short run could be far more disgusting than things have been up to now, and I think that's really saying something.
Apart from that, Tim Russert's untimely death is a reminder that you don't have to be old to die suddenly, and that neither wealth nor standing can substitute for bad luck. I really don't know why I feel so badly about Tim Russert other than from the perspective that he died while Kennedy lives on, and I simply can't get over the idea that Russert's passing may be an omen for November and beyond…