Tim Russert died last week of a heart attack. He was 58. You can read a great deal about him here. There is more available here about the man, his work, and his life.
The “official” announcement.
I didn’t know Tim Russert. Didn’t hang with him. If you want to read those types of eulogies, please feel free. The only thing I share in common (outside the big, white, male thing) is a passion for the news of the world. Timmy did it much better than I have, but when you share a passion, you share an outlook, and an order to the world. People who share a passion value things the same way, and Tim Russert is probably turning over in his just dug grave when he looks at the media he left for the rest of us.
Maybe it just the passing of one of the better ones that leaves the place so desolate. As I look at across the media universe (and I do, far more often than is healthy), I see a void when I’m looking for someone relevant who tries to be impartial. Someone who holds the feet to the fire, to quote Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart…he’s probably the next best at it.
It’s that bad.
And not to pick on Poppy Harlow (daytime “24-news” is on par with daytime “TV”), but gimme a break. Since when did news need a bass line and background music? When did the commentators, speaking live, become more important than the speaker, speaking live? When did the analysis become more important than the event? When did the taste replace the essence?
In the year 2000, I think. It’s been long enough now that we can look back and see the changes. We can see when and how it happened. You could also say 1996, and give Clinton some credit. That’s when he axed the ownership rules. They were rules, to be honest, weakened by Reagan in the 1980’s, when it was decided that even trying to be “fair” wasn’t needed any more.
That’s why Russert stood out, because even though he no longer had a legal need to be fair and attempt to appear to be impartial, he still thought it would be professional to do so. And he pulled it off, for the most part.
But there is no doubt that he is one of the very youngest of a dying breed. There are a few more out there, scattered on public television, cable, and maybe the web. Aaaah, the web. There’s a wildcard in news if there ever was one. That’s why it was nice to have a Russert about to keep things grounded.
Now, with Mr. Russert himself becoming the ground, who is left to tell us where it is?
What say you, Poppy?