Sunday, June 15, 2008

MSNBC won't be happy until I cry my eyes right out of my head

I'm watching the repeat of Meet the Press on MSNBC and it's a continuation of their "Remembering Tim Russert" weekend memorial. It takes a lot for me to shed a tear; I don't really cry very often. But when I see Tom Brokaw try not to break down on the air, saying, "I don't know if I can get through this..." well, I certainly couldn't make it through watching that.

It's not because I have any attachment to Brokaw; he always sounds to me like he's tossed back a few drinks before his broadcast. The sad truth is that we all suffer a loss with the passing of Tim Russert. When it comes to television journalists, it just doesn't get any better than Russert. If news & politics isn't your thing, maybe I can explain with a sports comparison.... Think of a player on a rival team that you hate to see your team go up against. The one guy who is so good that you would love to see him wear your team's jersey, but when he plays against your guys, you pray he'll be on the injured list. He's the Michael Jordan when your team plays the Bulls; he's Wayne Gretzky if your team plays the... er, Rangers, Kings or Oilers... depending on what year this particular analogy takes place.

That's the best way I can describe Russert, but it's not an ideal analogy. He doesn't play for a side. When he interviews politicians, it doesn't matter what their political affiliation is, he puts them all on the spot. If it's someone I don't especially like, I cheer when he catches them off guard. But last year when he interviewed Bill Richardson, I cringed. I have a lot of respect for Richardson, and Russert nailed him on everything. He even called the Governor out for claiming to be a Yankees fan at one time, and a Red Sox fan another time. It was brutal. I sat in my living room waving a white flag back and forth for poor Richardson.

It's really unfathomable that Russert is gone. I can't imagine who could replace him on Meet the Press. Surely there's someone with the same qualities as Russert - hard working, unintimidated by powerful people, someone who refuses to back down. Unfortunately, Big Media seems most interested in having a pretty face read soft news. Anything even resembling investigative journalism is rare.

I'm afraid that one of the last great journalists died suddenly on Friday the 13th, and left behind some impossible shoes to fill. It's sad to think that he's gone, while we're left with the mass of talking heads and partisan hacks. It's incredibly sad, but like I said - it takes a lot of heartache for me to shed a tear. I must admit that I've shed a few this weekend while watching the retrospective on MSNBC. They've repeatedly shown footage and interviews with Russert -one can imagine the amount of grief that is undoubtedly being suffered at NBC. The clips show Russert beaming and speaking about his father over the years. His Dad, "Big Russ" was the subject of his book, and watching the old footage of Russert speaking so proudly of his father is heartbreaking.

It's sad for us all that we no longer have Tim Russert to hold our elected officials accountable. But when I think of today - Father's Day; it's hard to hold back the tears when I think of what his father and his son must be going through. My heart goes out to the family.

You win, MSNBC.

Now if you'll all excuse me, I'm going to go call my dad.

2 comments:

Jenna said...

I cried, too. Spence just picked me up from work that Friday after the University laid us off for the week and they were reporting it on the radio on the ride home. Sad loss. My favorite interview he ever did had nothing to do with politics, but with three Yankees greats (he was also a huge Yankees fan!). He had on Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, and Phil Rizzuto and it was fantastic. I think he enjoyed it just as much as I did! sad loss.

Kathleen said...

I don't know, Jenna - if you had seen him grill your boy Bill Richardson, you may not feel so warmly toward him. It was brutal!