June 15, 2008

The "Meet the Press" tribute to Tim Russert.

Are you watching? (It will be up later for on-line streaming.) [ADDED: Here's that video.]

They are doing a nice job. The graphic still said "Meet the Press With Tim Russert," and they opened to an empty set with Tim's empty chair in the middle, then tilted down to Tom Brokaw. (The initial view of the top of Brokaw's head was — unintentionally — humorous.)

The show is full of interesting clips of old shows — including one just now where he used the expression to "saw your leg off" to Bob Kerrey, a man who's had his leg sawed off.

ADDED: Tom Brokaw breaks up as he tries to quote something Russert said a lot: "What a great country."

AND: At the end of the show, Brokaw reminds us that it's Father's Day and tells us we could honor Russert — who was a devoted son and father and wrote a couple books about fathers — by honoring our own fathers. Then there's a photo montage played over Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road." (Russert was a big Springsteen fan.) They return to the empty set. On screen, the words: Tim Russert/Managing Editor.

Very nicely done. I especially enjoyed the sequence of clips where he confronted various interviewees about whether they intended to run for President. Hillary Clinton's adamant noes were hilarious.


Unknown said...

The "Thunder Road" montage was moving. One pro honoring another.

bearbee said...

Tuned in for a couple minutes and in time to hear Brokaw say that Russert had a sign in his office 'Thou shalt not whine'.

Moose said...

Sorry, I have to agree with some other commentators regarding Russert.

Russert was a capable interviewer, and managed to maintain his edge in an otherwise bastardized industry. Hid death was untimely to both his family and the industry.

However - these sorts of tributes are, being generous here - unseemly. While many people looked to Russerts show to inform them, he was not necessairly important to the news he was reporting on. Being one of the few who actually did their job properly in an herd of hacks should be alarming, not worthy of tribute.

When the talking heads start celebrating each other, it glorifies what they are far beyond their actual importance. This is not unusual, however as they also control medium as well as the message.

rhhardin said...

Gak. I heard a tiny clip on the radio news on the hour.

They really milk it for the audience over there, don't they.

I don't inhabit the TV universe, I guess.

All I see is audience rating considerations.

I understand people love this stuff, anyway enough to make it worthwhile for a business to supply.

If only it didn't also govern every public debate on every topic whatsoever.

Christy said...

I bawled through most of it. That said, I agree with Moose that it was unseemly to use up the entire hour, with only one sponsor break, for a tribute to one of their own. Meanwhile, Stephanopoulos was moderating the debate between Will and Reich on the state of the U.S. Economy. Much more interesting.

John Stodder said...

Jesus, people, what do you expect? He was one of their own, their colleague, their mentor and their boss. He hired some of them. He was their friend. He was also the longest-serving host of the program they were all on. In fact, he revived the show, and established new stylistic norms for shows of that nature. In the networks' current economic environment, there wouldn't be five sunday morning news shows, there would be none, if MTP still resembled the pre-Russert version.

We've had nonstop political-junkie fixes on half-a-dozen channels since the middle of last year. It would be unseemly, cold and nauseating if NBC couldn't have stopped for one week to honor a successful innovator like Russert who died an untimely death.

Imagine if they'd gone ahead with the Biden/Graham show Russert had planned. It would have been gruesome and surreal. And, in a way, it would have made the news seem a lot more important than it really is. A debate between two hacks about an election still five months away is more important than honoring someone of Russert's stature on his own network? That's political fanaticism.

Godot said...

I'd be appalled if they didn't spare the time to eulogize the man. If it offends just change the channel.

taitu2 said...

If those of you who have been a bit critical of the attention paid to Tim Russert's sudden death would please truly open your minds & hearts a few moments to consider a few things:

I worked 25 years in broadcast journalism. I can tell you that the absolute FIRST thing I observed about my colleagues VERY early on was that the VAST majority thought THEY were the news RATHER than the "news," i.e. their self-serving egos gigantic, their personalities distinctly one way ON camera and another OFF camera.
Tim Russert was one of THE GENUINE exceptions, he was NOT hypocritical and/or two faced. He treated EVERYONE the same whether ON or OFF camera, his GENUINE humanity and considerate decency regarding other people's lives exhibited most every day.

He was NOT a saint, didn't profess to be and I've NOT heard anyone on any network claim he was, etc.
However, Tim Russert DID exemplify something pretty "old fashioned" that IS unique in ANY profession, i.e. he TRULY treated ANYONE the way he wanted to be treated, i.e. you know the epitomy of the "Golden Rule."
Most of us tend to complain about how people treat us, BUT tend to ignore our own shortcomings in how WE treat others, etc.
In an ideal world the majority of the people in broadcast journalism would exhibit those same qualities personally as Tim, but unfortunately they don't...and, because of that, that is one of the key reasons his sudden death is resulting in such an outpouring of grief and admiration from his colleagues, friends and professional competitors.

Finally, unless one has been in broadcast journalism, particularly covering polttics, one CANNOT TRULY understand the EXTREME tightrope it is to walk in interviewing ANYONE WITHOUT exhibiting ulterior motives and or hostility.
Think about your own personal lives: How often can you engage in an absolute 180 degree political disagreement with ANYONE and WHEN that discussion is done that you can GENUINELY shake hands or much less GENUINELY develop and maintain a MUTUAL respect, much less develop long term personal friendships?

If you are deeply honest you KNOW HOW DIFFICULT that is to do. Tim Russert by his own admission was advised by the original moderator of Meet the Press to always try and take the opposite position of ANYONE he was interviewing REGARDLESS of their political persuasion...so that we the viewers could observe for ourselves how the politician reacted to an opposing logic/frame of mind or position.

The main reason I never respected the bulk of my colleagues was because I KNEW they would try to find a way to work in their personal bias into ANY story they did, political or not. Tim Russert did not do that. And, believe me, those in our industry KNOW that and many wish they had that ability.

And, finally, for those of you who have ever lost someone...death is horrible for ANY loved ones left behind. Is it worse at the end of a horrendous terminal illness battle or is it worse when it comes in the blink of an eye seemingly out of nowhere?

I'm not so sure that anyone can say. However, having lost my own father in a freaky home accident when I was in my teens, I can tell you that in my hometown his death received an exceptional amount of attention...NOT because his death was any more important than anyone else's that weekend...but, because of it's suddeness coupled with his young 45 year old age.

I am now retired, and just hope that SOMEHOW the bulk of all these journalists paying hommage to Tim Russert CAN somehow reflect enough upon his hard work and good intentions personally and professionally to make themselves MORE fair in their future professional/personal lives.
THAT way it would NOT be SO strange for people to talk about how genuinely thoughtful and respectful ANY journalist's behavior and demeanor was, etc.

Moose said...

Yah, sure. They should eulogize the man.


This was somewhat over the top. I agree with John Stoddard that the news isn't that important. If NBC wanted to honor the man, an hour with a picture of him would have made the right statement.

Doing this grand retrospective just ensured keeping the ratings up for that timeslot.

Again, it shows how far gone the media is when they honor a newscaster as some sort of fallen hero.

Grief should be a private thing. Not fodder for TV specials.

rcocean said...

I watched the show and thought it was great. Its very appropriate that Tim should be honored for an hour on the show he made so popular and important.

You only have to look at his possible NBC replacements to see what a Giant he was. And frankly, the criticism that we have more important things to talk about is absurd. If it was true, we wouldn't have "journalist round tables" shows or interviews with has beens and hacks like Matlin & Carville, Al Gore, and Henry Kissinger.

rhhardin said...

The moral objection is that you're using somebody else's private grief as entertainment for yourself, and the media are happy to sell your resulting eyeballs to advertisers.

Which is also why there's the interviews with the grieving families at airports.

They suffer still more!

Males are less susceptible a priori, and more likely to come up with the cynical but correct explanation for it.

Females get such a rush out of it that they're willing to overlook the commercial aspects.

But of course there are males willing to defend the claptrap too. Who knows why.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trooper York said...

Wow, taitu2 what an interesting POST. I never met anyone WHO POSTED IN TOURETTES BEFORE. Where did YOU LEARN YOUR JOURNALISM. Under J. Jonah Jameson at the Daily Bugle. OR WITH PERRY WHITE AT THE DAILY PLANET. Great Caesar's ghost!

rhhardin said...

In a perfect world, Russert's show would start with an announcement that owing to Russert's being dead and the short notice, there was no time to prepare a proper show, and the following is a rerun of Marlin Perkins' Wild Kingdom. Meet the Press returns next week.

rhhardin said...

Taitu2 does the teleprompter work for Obama.

Once written, twice... said...

It is one of those life oddities that Tim Russert died at the beginning of the Father's Day" weekend. It is my prediction that his two books and the interviews he did for the books will become staples of future "Father's Days." (At least on NBC/MSNBC) Russert, because of this weekend might become the "It's a wonderful life" of Father's Day's.

rhhardin said...

Imus (monday morning) is having a Russert remembering show, starting with Mr. Pathetic Fallacy Mike Barnicle. Ordinary People are invoked.

Imus does the classiest memorials, if you're into that sort of thing.

The show usually shows up eventually here sometimes after a few days, less commercials.

Anthony said...

I thought it was okay for them to devote an hour to eulogize him. He was a big part of the organization and it was his show for what, 17 years?

OTOH, I find it interesting that most of the talking heads were bending over backwards to say how fair and non-partisan Russert was. I take that as tacit admission that such a thing is exceedingly rare among their number.