Saturday, June 14, 2008

“If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”

NBC’s Tim Russert dies at 58 of heart attack

I’ve been skimming a few blogs this morning, reading all the positive things people have gone out of their way to say about the former host of Meet the Press, who went on to his rich reward yesterday. While I offer my condolences to the Russert family on their tragic loss, if I hear one more NBC reporter or scumbag politician praise Russert’s “integrity” and “tough-but-fairness” I’m going to puke. (Particularly Keith Olbermann, who, while Russert still walked the earth, seemed to be constantly auditioning for the position of Tim’s toady.)

In 1992, shortly after being named moderator of Meet The Press, Tim Russert was having lunch with a broadcast executive. The mealtime conversation was about the pros and cons of working for General Electric’s NBC subsidiary. Russert expounded on how being employed by GE had brought him to the realization that things functioned better when Republicans were in charge.

“You know, Tim, you used to be such a rabid Democrat when you worked for Pat Moynihan,” said the executive. “But now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of who’s handing out the money in this business, you’ve become quite the Jaycee. Were you wrong about everything you used to believe so strongly?”

“I still believe,” Russert said, leaning across the table. “I believe in everything I ever did. But I also know that I never would have become moderator on Meet the Press if my employers were uncomfortable with me. And, given the amount of money at stake, millions of dollars, I don’t blame them. This is business.”

The executive agreed. “But are you concerned about losing yourself? You know, selling out?”

Russert pounded the table. “Integrity is for paupers!”


The ambitious Russert soon learned that, in order to climb the ladder at NBC News, he had to please two sets of managers: the news executives who were ostensibly his bosses, and the employers of the news executives. In the years that followed, he refined the strategy to ingratiating himself to General Electric Chairman Jack Welch.

For much of the eighties, Russert coordinated specials on summits and foreign policy related topics. His breakthrough performance occurred in 1990, when he oversaw the production of the prime time special, “A Day In The Life Of President Bush”. The show was so worshipful and fawning that one embarrassed production assistant referred to it as “Deep Throat: The Missing Footage”. By this time, however, Russert had figured out that only one opinion counted. Jack Welch loved the program, telling an associate that it “hit just the right note."

“Chocolates and Nylons, Sir?” – David Podvin (01/09/02)

I guess one man’s “tough and hardworking newsman” is another man’s prostitute.


Stacia said...

Yeah, I have to say that I'm floored at discovering how many people loved Tim Russert. Or so they say now, at any rate. I was never a fan but now feel like I have to watch what I say or else people will start throwing things at me.

The Baby said...

Yeah, I felt pretty bad about his sudden death. Couldn't stand the guy personality-wise, but still.

OT - hey Ivan, have you gone HDTV yet? I'm thinking of taking the plunge, but we classics-lovers have to worry about certain resolution issues, e.g. I still have a LOT of VHS, some of which will probably make it to DVD or Bluray and am worried about how it's going to look.

Any ideas?

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Stacia: I think most of the individuals who are now wearing "We Love You, Tim" T-shirts do so only because of the old adage of "Never speak ill of the dead." Whereas the first thought in my mind after hearing of Russert's untimely passing was: "Gosh--now who's going to be available to lob interrogative softballs at John McCain?"

b: I'll probably go to HDTV about the time my numbers are picked in the Georgia lottery. Like you, I'm worried about the yet-to-be-resolved resolution issues and as such am in no hurry to upgrade. Most of the movies on HDTV are primarily the "to-hell-with-the-script, let's-just-blow-some-shit-up" kind anyway.

Anonymous said...

You've got guts, ol' boy. They're still debating the second artery-theory - and was there cholesterol in the book depository?

I have to hand it to you.


Gerard said...

Prostituting for NBC. Yet, when I DARED write a critical comment about Radio Spirits - you deleted the comment. Does that not mean YOU were prostituting for RS?


You are OFF my feeds and I'll expose your hypocrisy any chance I get. It's so obvious you are in Radio Spirit's pocket. But Tim? You expected what you, yourself, cannot even do about OLD-TIME RADIO! Such rank hypocrisy.

No wonder you "moderate" your comments.

barry said...

Ivan and baby:

Regarding HDTV; I'd wait for the price of Blu-Ray players to come down and the number of titles to go up (maybe 1.5 to 2 years?) DVD has 480 lines of resolution and HDTV and Blu-Ray up to 1080. So a DVD won't look much better than on an old analog TV. Unless you are watching an anamorphic widescreen DVD (ie., "formatted for 16x9 TVs"). Then, the HDTV can stretch it to full screen without losing any image and no (1.85:1 aspect ratio) or minimal (2.35:1) letterbox "black bars".

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Prostituting for NBC. Yet, when I DARED write a critical comment about Radio Spirits - you deleted the comment. Does that not mean YOU were prostituting for RS?

Gerald, old boy...the only time I have ever deleted any comments on this weblog is when some individual tries to use the blog for their own nefarious spamming purposes...and I've even been known to let those slide if I'm too lazy to delete.

I've looked through the history of comments submitted to this blog and found none with your name attached, so I'm not entirely certain as to which deleted comment you're referring. If you posted this comment on the old blog at Salon, there's a distinct possibility it may have been yanked...but that doesn't necessarily mean I was responsible. Salon's blogging software always was a little buggy at times.

As for prostituting for Radio Spirits...well, I've never said I do and I've never said I don't. If you're wanting me to admit anything, it's that I have a very good business relationship with RS because I worked with the currently president, Mark Tepper, on some projects when he was running Radio Again and I saw no need to end our agreement just because he took over a company that, while in other hands, seemed to revel in ticking off their gradually shrinking customer base. Mark has done right by me in every single business transaction we've conducted. If I take the opportunity every now and then to toot my horn and publicize an RS release that I had a hand in...then, okay, I'm a whore. Satisfied?


Careful there, Mr. G...I've just admitted I'm a prostitute, so you have no call to assail me with that charge. The fact of the matter is, your comparison of myself and the late Mr. Russert is apples and oranges. All I'm guilty of is writing liner notes to provide a little "oomph" to a collection of old-time radio shows. Mr. Russert, on the other hand, was guilty of a gross dereliction of duty: using his position at NBC not to inform or educate the viewing public, but instead becoming a cheerleader for the GOP and anyone else given the thumbs up by his then-boss, Jack Welch. He was paid rather handsomely for being General Electric's mouthpiece and while you and I may disagree on whether or not that's a good or bad thing--the fact that so many of his fellow employees were placing him on a pedestal as an individual with integrity started to get under my chin...and as such, I wrote the post to lower my blood pressure some.

You are OFF my feeds

Sounds more like you're off your meds...

and I'll expose your hypocrisy any chance I get.

That must be a pretty demanding job...what kind of benefits do you get with that?

It's so obvious you are in Radio Spirit's pocket.

Gosh--what gave me away? The "Now available at Radio Spirits" widget?

But Tim? You expected what you, yourself, cannot even do about OLD-TIME RADIO! Such rank hypocrisy.

I have no idea what you mean here, so I'd get back to that "taking your meds" advice PDQ.

No wonder you "moderate" your comments.

Actually, I don't. The only two people that can pull a comment is you and I, and I'm perfectly happy to leave yours up since it amuses me so.