Sunday, June 15, 2008
I was camping this weekend and learned second hand that Tim Russert has passed away. I was not near my computer so please forgive the lateness of this particular entry. Here is MSNBC’s coverage: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25145431/.
And now a small word about popular morning news programs namely ABC’s, “Good Morning America” and NBC’s, “Today Show”. For all intents and purposes that’s it for the big three networks – CBS has a morning show too but historically (or at least for the last 40 years) the program, in whatever incarnation it reinvents itself to be, trails far behind the others. Yes, for pop news shows in the morning it boils down to ABC and NBC. Both of them have headline and entertainment news and boatloads of fluff. While getting ready for work in the mornings for my Monday through Friday grind I watch for the weather forecast, to see which parts of the world are on fire, and to become, at least for a little bit, a little better informed.
But there is so much fluff to shovel. I do not blame the media completely for this – they are just giving the people what they want; which is capitalistic journalism. We, collectively, want to be entertained, in some cases, more so than we want to become informed. That’s why you see “Muffy the Water-Skiing Dog” or “What’s Brittany Doing Now?” right next to the economy, the obscene price of gas or the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. There’s a lot to sift through in the free American news media today – the morning rush most of all. Because of this fluff cutting (and no, that is not a euphemism for passing gas) over the years I have switched allegiances from “Good Morning America” to the “Today Show”. Oh sure there is fluff to sort through but the hosts do not appear as fake and as plastic as ABC’s do. I have a hard time watching phony people deliver phony news. It is irritating.
Enter the “Today Show”. This is where I first became aware of Mr. Tim Russert. Russet had a passion for politics that was not faked or phony – he loved what he did and that passion spilled over into the segments that he appeared. I’ve never watched “Meet the Press”, the show that he has hosted for the last “16 plus years” (thank you Wikipedia), but, as a casual viewer who was doing other things on Sunday mornings I always missed it. On the “Today Show”, however, I had the opportunity to see him come to life during the Democratic nomination bid between Obama and Clinton and it was a joy to behold. He and Matt Lauer would have discussions and you could feel the radiant excitement that Russert was exuding. It was fun to watch and it was informative. Russert’s passion was contagious.
My prayers go out to his family and friends at this time. Some people you just don’t replace as easily as others. Tim Russert was one of those people.