Tim Russert This, Tim Russert That

As another year was ending a few years back, a chemistry professor once wrote me an email noting the great and somewhat astonishingly fortunate news that, yet again, not one scientist of any kind, be it astronomer, physicist, chemist, or whatever, had passed from this Earthly life in that particular year of Our Lord A.D. I mean, he said he watched the TV news and read the newspapers and could find nary a word on the passing of notables in those fields. Yet, anyone who’d had some measure of fame as a talking head on TV always seemed to get wide coverage.

I don’t watch TV much, so when practically everybody last week expressed their shock to me that Tim Russert, the NBC news/talk show host, had died, I had to really probe the recesses of my memory to try and figure out who that was. I thought I knew who they were talking about, but I had to go on the internet and check and make sure my recollection was correct. It was, and I have to admit, perhaps shamefully, to being underwhelmed by the information.

For people who watch a lot of TV, it was cataclysmic news. Which is perhaps an indication that we need to be watching less TV and get some perspective.

Frankly, I’m far more concerned about the mole that I’m going to have to kill that’s been digging up my tomato garden. When the time comes that I have to decapitate it with a shovel, I will grieve greatly that I had to resort to such an action. The poor thing just wants to live, but at the same time my family and I have to eat and no animal is going to ruin all the effort I’ve put into this thing.

It’s too bad Tim Russert died, and died too young. He did seem to be a talented man. But it’s kind of funny to watch the media overdo things when one of their own dies.

A lot more people died in Iraq last week, but that’s old news.


2 Responses to Tim Russert This, Tim Russert That

  1. Michael says:

    Here Here!

    No TV in my life either, same memory jogging actions when this news came my way. Same underwhelmed reaction.

  2. sean says:

    I don’t even own a TV, but the news hit me pretty hard. It has less to do with television, without a doubt, than it does with politics. Meet the Press was the most watched Sunday Morning political show. Even those who didn’t actually watch it (like myself) still knew all about Russert, and usually read plenty of analysis of his interviews, or watched worthwhile clips afterwards. He was a skilled moderator (or prosecutor, as Tom Brokaw put it). His voice was a powerful and meaningful one in the realm of politics, and mourning his passing seems worth our efforts.

    I suspect when a great scientist dies, we read plenty about his/her tragic death in niche publications like Scientific American or Nature. As you said, Russert was one of their own, and its hardly surprising that they’re paying their respects. I think there are much larger problems with than media than the willingness to obsess over the untimely death of one of their own. In fact, Russert himself was complicit in the media’s failure to elevate our political discourse.

    For example, refer to the story some time ago revealing the Vice President would schedule appearances on MtP as part of the White House efforts to “control message” in making the case for the Iraq war (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/25/AR2007012501951.html). Media commentators also took umbrage with Russert’s prosecutorial, “gotcha” interview style.

    Tim Russert: Stop the Inanity

    Are the media wasting our time fawning over Tim Russert? Maybe, but as you noted yourself, that’s the least of the media’s problems.

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