Tim Russert, NBC's long-time anchor of Meet the Press, died at the age of 58 on Friday. The media world is filled with accolades and praise for Russert and what a wonderful icon of journalistic integrity he was. I humbly disagree. I realize this puts me in the minority, but I'm o.k. with that. I actually pissed off a very good friend with my casual dismissal of Russert's death . This occurred over drinks on Friday night. I've had a bit of time to reflect, so Salad, if you read this, here was my reasoning.
I will begin with a clear statement; I am not happy that Russert died. He has left behind a family and friends and I am sure he was a swell guy privately. However, I have a real issue with the journalistic integrity label. I used to watch the Sun. morning talk shows religiously, hoping that perhaps the media could help to cull some truth out of the politicians who were so blatantly destroying our country and my faith in it. This was primarily during the 2000 election, the 9/11 attacks, and the unnecessary invasion of Iraq. I watched evil men such as Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld appear on the show and lie... and lie.... and lie.... and lie some more, and Russert NEVER EVER REALLY CALLED THEM ON THEIR BULLSHIT!!!!! - Dick Cheney with statements linking Al-Qaeda to 9/11, statements guaranteeing the existence of WMD's in IRAQ, statements that "The insurgency is in it's last throes". - Russert is one of the, if not the, most powerful man in Washington politics, yet he provided a forum for these men to lie to millions of Americans on a show that ostensibly had legitimacy and credibility that the cable news outles (Fox, in particular) couldn't even approach, and this legitimacy was primarily the result of Russert's presence... and he never, ever really just stopped it. Imagine if he said, "Vice President Cheney, the statements you are saying have absolutely no verifiable facts behind them, and have actually been discredited numerous times. Why don't you stop lying and tell us the truth?" - I'll tell you why. Russert had become another sycophant, sucking at the teat of the corporate powers that be, fearful of biting the hand that feeds him and alienating the big names that drove the ratings for his show and allowed him to make a lot of money and wield a great deal of power. He hobnobbed with the Washington elite, and he provided a nice dog and pony show for the American public. That, my friends, is disgracefuly, and to attach the words "journalistic integrity" is an insult to the Edward Murrow's of the world, the people who laid it on the line in order to pursue the truth and present it to the American people.
Super smart (and oh so humble) I often wonder if heightened intelligence is a blessing or a curse. Recognizing the evil, lies, and corruption that dominate the world, I often retreat into films, comics, sports, and other distractions. Bread and Circuses, baby!! (Don't you just wanna hang out with me now; I must be a barrel of laughs). My blog is where you can read these thoughts, and soon enough you will begin to see, I'm a pretty cool guy. (There's that humility again)