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.