Joe Klein on Russert, the Clintons

Journalism is a tough job; the adrenaline-pumping nature of the business can exacerbate any heart problems one may be slightly susceptible to. A reporter cannot plan for the news to start jumping when she or he is ready and rested - a journalist must stalk stories where they are and when they happen.

Many a reporter have died right at their desks of heart attacks while covering breaking news. To check out for a much-needed vacation is to risk one's career; losing a scoop to a competing network can pummel ratings and advertising revenue, and could lead to the layoff of many friends.

This election is historic in so many ways. The first woman, the first African American to be viable leaders of the free world ran a competitive race. And the first septuagenarian is notable too. This means day-to-day political news reports will be filed and bound in history and textbook alike for decades to come.

Maintaining objectivity is very, very difficult for a journalist to do - in fact it's probably impossible. If you're raised a staunch Catholic and were given a great education by nuns who nurtured your talents when others considered you unruly and a bit hyperactive, it would be hard to truly see the world from the shoes of somebody who contradicted what those nuns taught you to be virtuous and right.

The job of the journalist is to make an effort to stand in the shoes of others. But even the finest journalist can only strive to do their best.

Joe Klein speaks highly of his recently deceased colleague and shares an anecdote of a time when he and Russert covered the primaries in 1992:

Every four years, through the 80s and 90s, Tim and I would go out and watch the politicians work on the weekend before the New Hampshire primary. Our most memorable excursion was in 1992, when we saw Paul Tsongas selling his chilly fiscal discipline and then watched Bill Clinton work a nursing home. A woman started to ask Clinton about the high price of prescription drugs, then dissolved in tears, unable to finish. Clinton immediately went to the woman, dropped to his knees and hugged her; he held her tight for what seemed a long time. It was a reflexive reaction, and fairly shocking -- neither of us were yet aware of Clinton's rampaging empathy -- and very moving. Tim and I looked at each other, and we both had tears in our eyes. "I don't think we'll ever see Tsongas do that," he said.

But Klein, himself a critic of both Clintons (Kelin authored "Primary Colors"), said the only disagreements he and Russert experienced were over Russert's view and treatment of the Clintons:

Tim was boggled by Clinton, impressed and appalled by him. The only real differences we had in 30 years of friendship were over his treatment of both Clintons, which I thought was occasionally too sharp -- and had its roots, I believed, in the strict lessons about sex and probity he'd learned from the nuns (which he often joked about). Our last conversation, sadly, was an argument over that.

It is very, very difficult to remain objective as a journalist. In fact, I would even argue it's impossible - a journalist brings to the table everything he or she has been taught growing up and experienced since. One person's capacity for seeing the world as others see it cannot encompass all the vantage points of humanity, it just can't and won't.

Forgiveness is a virtue taught by the religious and secular. Mr. Russert, I disagreed with much of your coverage and often thought you unknowingly, innocently, wielded your influence irresponsibly. But you took on and performed one of the toughest and most important jobs there is, one that is vital to upholding the freedoms we hold so dear. Like Klein, I think you were too hard on both Clintons and too slow to recognize them when they meant well and did right. But you were a human being, and given that constraint you performed exceptionally. Thank you for taking on that task and giving it your all. RIP.

Tags: Russert (all tags)



Wow. What a moving eulogy.

His body isn't even cold yet, but you just can't help yourself.  The best you can come up with in answer to the grief people are feeling over his passing is "it's okay that he wasn't objective and didn't give my candidate a free pass - after all, he's only human."

It really is all about you, isn't it?

by spunkmeyer 2008-06-14 06:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Wow. What a moving eulogy.

I thought it was.

by vcalzone 2008-06-15 01:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Wow. What a moving eulogy.

All this "affection" for Russert after his death is ridiculous. The man was no friend to the Democrats and repeated republican talking points at every Democratic debate he helped moderate.
Remember his coverage of the 2000 election, when we were waiting for the decision of the SC? He referred to Bush as "president elect" Bush and asked Lieberman several times why Gore hadn't dropped out.
Here's a snippet from some of his coverage of Howard Dean:

In stark contrast to Russert's handling of the Bush administration, his interview with Howard Dean, then frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, on June 22nd, 2003, showed how he interviews someone when he wants to destroy them politically.

Pulling out a highly partisan analysis of Dean's tax plan, Russert asked Dean, "Can you honestly go across the country and say, "I'm going to raise your taxes 4,000 percent or 107 percent and be elected?". Then Russert erroneously informed his viewers that Dean's teenage son had been indicted for steeling beer.

And the fatal trap came when Russert asked how many men and women were serving in the U.S. military. When Dean said he didn't know the exact number Russert lectured him, saying that "As commander in Chief, you should know that."

An argument then ensued between Dean and Russert on this subject. Though I felt that Dean did a fine job of handling this, I tried to view the exchange through the eyes of a typical undecided American voter, and my conclusion was (later verified, I believe) that Dean was hurt badly by this episode. Indeed, the conventional wisdom was that Dean "failed" Russert's test, and that Russert "cleaned Dean's clock". And I do believe that if not for this interview Howard Dean would be President today.

Democratic Underground

Doesn't anyone remember the February debate?

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Obama, one of the things in a campaign is that you have to react to unexpected developments.

On Sunday, the headline in your hometown paper, Chicago Tribune: "Louis Farrakhan Backs Obama for President at Nation of Islam Convention in Chicago." Do you accept the support of Louis Farrakhan?

SEN. OBAMA: You know, I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments. I think that they are unacceptable and reprehensible. I did not solicit this support. He expressed pride in an African-American who seems to be bringing the country together. I obviously can't censor him, but it is not support that I sought. And we're not doing anything, I assure you, formally or informally with Minister Farrakhan.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you reject his support?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, Tim, you know, I can't say to somebody that he can't say that he thinks I'm a good guy. (Laughter.) You know, I -- you know, I -- I have been very clear in my denunciations of him and his past statements, and I think that indicates to the American people what my stance is on those comments.

MR. RUSSERT: The problem some voters may have is, as you know, Reverend Farrakhan called Judaism "gutter religion."

OBAMA: Tim, I think -- I am very familiar with his record, as are the American people. That's why I have consistently denounced it.

This is not something new. This is something that -- I live in Chicago. He lives in Chicago. I've been very clear, in terms of me believing that what he has said is reprehensible and inappropriate. And I have consistently distanced myself from him.

RUSSERT: The title of one of your books, "Audacity of Hope," you acknowledge you got from a sermon from Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the head of the Trinity United Church. He said that Louis Farrakhan "epitomizes greatness."

He said that he went to Libya in 1984 with Louis Farrakhan to visit with Moammar Gadhafi and that, when your political opponents found out about that, quote, "your Jewish support would dry up quicker than a snowball in Hell."

RUSSERT: What do you do to assure Jewish-Americans that, whether it's Farrakhan's support or the activities of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, your pastor, you are consistent with issues regarding Israel and not in any way suggesting that Farrakhan epitomizes greatness?

New York Times

I can feel sympathy for his family and friends at his untimely death, but we don't have to pretend he was something he was not.

by skohayes 2008-06-15 05:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Joe Klein on Russert, the Clintons

I realized that at the debate ( errr...the ambush )  in Philly .

However I don't watch much TV and as such I don't watch meet the press , you have the feel for his family.

Way too young.

By the way Elizabeth Edwards said this about the coverage :

" Q: Well, it goes around my friends in the newsroom -- I have to ask you about a front-page story in The New York Times today all about the media coverage of Senator Clinton, including my old colleagues at MSNBC and other cable channels and networks. Do you think the coverage of Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign was sexist? Katie Couric says so.

Edwards: It was sexist. I thought that it was extraordinarily negative, particularly at one point later in the process when it almost seemed to be an insult to the commentators on television that she was continuing to press her case, I thought, instead of viewing it as it really was, which I think it was a moment of incredible strength. She was winning these late primaries. She had a perfect right to take the position she did until it was -- until the case was clearly decided. And yet they treated it as if it was insulting.

I suspect they would've given the same treatment to a man, but I'm not positive. They didn't -- I don't remember hearing the same clamor for Howard Dean to get out, but the process hadn't gone as long as it had, so I didn't think that it was fair. I think that if any one of those people had been in her shoes they would've continued to try to get the nomination. Had any single one of them changed places with her, they would've done it -- man, woman, green hair or not. " no_20080613_9640.php

I am glad she is speaking out . I am not in the camp that believes she lost because of sexism or that the campaign itself was overly sexist in its coverage , infact in most cases my complaint was limited to cooments by top pundits on MSNB/NBC a la Chris " I have a thrill up my leg " Mattews , Tucker " i feel castrated " Carlson and Keith " he is no Edward Murrow " Olbermann .

One case of sexism , is one too many . I am happy she is speaking out because it seems to me when women or men for that matter complain about sexism some folks just roll their eyes like it doesn't exist  , however we are quick to do special comments when it comes to race .

The NY times article was crap especially in terms of the MSNC folks they interviewed.

by lori 2008-06-14 07:10PM | 0 recs
Good post Cat and Lori

May his soul rest in peace

by indus 2008-06-14 07:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Joe Klein on Russert, the Clintons

Great comments by Elizabeth Edwards.  Its good to see that some Dem women are still allowed to speak out on what is quickly becoming a "hidden" controversy.  

by Betsy McCall 2008-06-14 09:29PM | 0 recs

Even the dead don't get a pass at MyDD unless they march in lockstep with the Clintons.  

What a boring zombie apocalypse this will be.

by libertyleft 2008-06-14 07:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Wow

So only pro-obama diaries are allowed in mydd now. I did not get the memo.

by indus 2008-06-14 08:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Wow

Haven't you heard?  This is Obama country now.

Can I just say how much I hate assigning ownership of things to a politician.  I have heard people say the Democratic party belongs to Obama now.  Well, no that is not correct.  The party belongs to the people who participate in the process, and they have selected Obama to lead the party.  He doesn't own it.  He doesn't own this site.  

by JustJennifer 2008-06-14 08:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Wow

I have heard people say the Democratic party belongs to Obama now.

As the Democratic nominee for president, Obama is the de facto leader of the Democratic party.  "The people who participate in the process" elected him to lead it.  Your disappointment with that fact doesn't change it.

[Obama] doesn't own this site.

That doesn't mean trashing him is acceptable.  In fact, it is expressly forbidden by the site rules.  This is a site dedicated to nominating Democrats.  Period.  If that rubs you the wrong way, go peddle your papers elsewhere.  Here are a few options you might prefer:

by spunkmeyer 2008-06-14 08:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Wow

"As the Democratic nominee for president, Obama is the de facto leader of the Democratic party.  "The people who participate in the process" elected him to lead it"

That is exactly what I said.  

Thanks for reinforcing my post.  Too bad you had to add your lame little links to the end.  But I appreciate the effort.  

by JustJennifer 2008-06-14 08:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Wow

Grousing about Obama is counter to the purpose of this site, which is - to remind you again - electing Democrats.  

I'm glad you like the links.  I sincerely believe you'll have a much more harmonious experience at those sites.  You should check them out, for your own well-being.  And for ours.

by spunkmeyer 2008-06-14 09:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Wow

Dude, I am grousing about the people who said the party belongs to Obama.  Not Obama.  You need to chill out.

by JustJennifer 2008-06-14 09:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Wow

by spunkmeyer 2008-06-14 09:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Wow

I love your clever little graphics.  They are very droll.

by JustJennifer 2008-06-14 09:52PM | 0 recs
Ratings trolls.

PJ Jefferson and aliveandkickin have decided they dislike my opinions so much that they're going to track down every comment I've ever made and troll rate them.

If site admins were watching, these two trolls would be punted.

But I'm not holding my breath.

by spunkmeyer 2008-06-15 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Wow

Agreed in one sense, not in another. The party is his to steer, but it's his job to keep everyone on board. And by that I mean convince them to engage, not strongarm. A very important distinction.

by vcalzone 2008-06-15 01:38AM | 0 recs

Tim Russert just died.....yesterday.

This has nothing to do with Obama.

by Massadonious 2008-06-14 08:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Uh..

I agree.  I was responding to the post that asked if only pro-Obama diaries were allowed here now.

As for the OT, I think discussing Tim Russert's impact on politics will be appropriate at some point but the day after he died is a little premature.  I feel for his family during this time of grief.

by JustJennifer 2008-06-14 08:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Uh..

I was just trying to say that I didn't see anything in that original comment that would imply that only Obama diaries should be posted here, just that ths diary about Russert the day after his death was brought about because of his apparent dislike for the Clinton's.

And, I'm with you on these kind of diaries being inappropriate. I told the diarist as much on another diary. It really doesn't matter if has a beef with the man, but he shouldn't air his grievances a day after the poor soul died.

by Massadonious 2008-06-14 08:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Wow

mojo for "boring zombie apocalypse"


by xdem 2008-06-14 09:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Joe Klein on Russert, the Clintons

Rec'd by


How is it that we have a user named "Nobama" at this point in the election cycle?  Go get yourself a new email, young sir or ma'am and come back when you have a new username.

by Can I Haz Moar Snark 2008-06-14 08:10PM | 0 recs
well ADD ME!

Diamond Jay, you got that? Some people believe trashing the Clinton was a genuine sickness in the media that has been going on since 1992 and still going on today. its time journalists showed honor to the Clintons greatness.

by Lakrosse 2008-06-14 08:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Joe Klein on Russert, the Clintons

This election is important for Americans and people ( both democrats and republicans) will vote according to their own belief as to who is the better candidate for them and the country - not the DNC or RNC. There will be republicans who will be voting for Obama/Barr/Nader and not voting for McCain. The same is true in the case of democrats not voting for Obama and will be voting for McCain/Barr/Nader.

by indus 2008-06-14 08:21PM | 0 recs
Here, let me fix that for you

The same is true in the case of democrats deadender douchebags not voting for Obama and will be voting for McCain/Barr/Nader.

by spunkmeyer 2008-06-14 08:30PM | 0 recs

I sincerely hope that there is not a whole bunch of the people ( that you fixed)

by indus 2008-06-14 08:34PM | 0 recs

that's one way to try to win friends.

by Pacific John 2008-06-14 08:34PM | 0 recs
Re: win friends

One must draw the line on what one is willing to kiss.

by xdem 2008-06-14 09:11PM | 0 recs
As e.e. cumming wrote
Olaf (upon what were once knees)
does almost ceaselessly repeat
"there is some shit I will not eat"
by spunkmeyer 2008-06-14 09:19PM | 0 recs
Re: As e.e. cumming wrote


by spunkmeyer 2008-06-14 09:19PM | 0 recs
Wow. Ratings trolls.

PJ Jefferson and aliveandkickin have decided they dislike my opinions so much that they're going to track down every comment I've ever made and troll rate them.

If site admins were watching, these two trolls would be punted.

But I'm not holding my breath.

by spunkmeyer 2008-06-15 09:50AM | 0 recs
Re: win friends

These guys are not the bad guys. Save it for the people who are actually being bitter and hateful, let the people dissent who want to dissent. As long as they're here, even if they are skeptical, they are engaged in the process. And NOT trollilng.

by vcalzone 2008-06-15 01:41AM | 0 recs
Re: win friends
Truthfully, no one is asking you to kiss anything here, but a little respect or perhaps just less nastiness towards undecided voters (not all Clinton supporters who are not 100% behind Obama are "deadenders") would be in order.
Change should start from within.
by skohayes 2008-06-15 05:14AM | 0 recs
Wow, so when Hillary is out,

THEN a journalist can call another one out on being too tough on the Clintons. Notice how if Hillary had won, no one would be talking even one bit about any unfair treatment, or ever talked about it during Bill's Presidency. Usually, I was fine with Russert, except with this. But this hatred of the Clintons is a fucking disease which still is rampant today. The Clintons are great people who deserve honor. I by no means mean to disrespect Russert in this time of tragedy, but I'm glad Joe Klein, even points this out. But still, I will not forgive Russert or any other jounalists for their treatment of them.

by Lakrosse 2008-06-14 08:19PM | 0 recs
Saying it don't make it so.

I by no means mean to disrespect Russert in this time of tragedy

Yes you do.

by spunkmeyer 2008-06-14 08:28PM | 0 recs
is this Reagan's funeral or something?

where you're not allowed to say anything other than "he was a God" because he happened to pass away? Tim Russert usually a fine journalist sadly was another journalist who did not give the Clintons a fair shake.

by Lakrosse 2008-06-14 08:49PM | 0 recs
Re: is this Reagan's funeral or something?

The appropriate response, when someone with whom you disagree has just died, is to shut the fuck up for a few minutes and show some respect.

Too much to handle for some of the deadenders in this joint, I guess.

by spunkmeyer 2008-06-14 08:55PM | 0 recs
Re: is this Reagan's funeral or something?

They're doing a tap-dance on Russert's grave over at  Also celebrating Ted Kennedy's brain tumor.

You might find the company more to your liking over there.

by spunkmeyer 2008-06-14 08:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Tap dancing
Yet oddly, the same people will accuse Obama supporters of the capital crime of misogyny if they express happiness at the mere victory of their candidate.
by xdem 2008-06-14 09:19PM | 0 recs
Agreed, but the worst was David Gergen

On the nights when Hillary won, he gushed about the rising tide in favor of Hillary, and how she had found her voice, capturing the imagination of the voters.

On the nights when Barack won, he spoke about "history in the making", and the ground-breaking significance of his candidacy.

Did I hear the word, "chameleon"? Good old Gergen...nothing like having the courage of your convictions...that is, if you have any convictions.

by BJJ Fighter 2008-06-14 10:29PM | 0 recs
I don't see Gergen as fond of Obama

he's fond of the history he's making, but as a candidate, Gergen has doubts. But he's a decent guy, so he finds something nice to day.

Also Gergen defended Hillary's stance (opposition) to provisions in NAFTA. Said he was in the White House at the time, and she opposed it more so than Bill did.

by catfish2 2008-06-14 10:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Joe Klein on Russert, the Clintons

Glad to see this has made the top of the Rec list. And kudos to catfish for asking the important question we should be asking when everyone passes from this world - were they, or were they not, fair to Bill and Hill?

by animated 2008-06-14 09:42PM | 0 recs
Russert was a nice guy, nothing more

From everything we've all heard over the last couple of days, Russert was a well-liked and decent guy. But this effort to turn him into Walter Cronkite, or Ed Murrow, etc., is in my judgment, way off the mark. He was a broadcaster/TV personality, not a journalist.

I really tired him of him in the last couple of years, and found him incredibly annoying. Mainly, because he was a one-trick pony: the "gotcha" game. He would quote something a politician said recently, and then "run the tape" of something they said years ago, which supposedly contradicted his/her first statement--and the show rarely got beyond that approach. In fact, I sometimes played a game on Sunday mornings: guess Russert's first 5 questions....usually, I was right; he was so predictable. You knew what he was going to ask Barack (Rev.Wright stuff), you knew what he was going to ask Hillary (why are you trying to change the rules on Michigan/Florida) and so forth. There was nothing remotely unique or original in what he did.

I think the increasing tendency to "deify" mediocrities like Russert reflects our culture's disappointment with those we'd hoped would be our heroes. Our current President is nothing more than a fool, Elliot Spizer became the hypocrite supreme, and now it looks like Chris Dodd may be the latest casualty. Too often, our leaders don't have either ethics or competence. And it all extends to pop culture, sports, etc., as well. Michael Vick turns out to have tortured innocent dogs, and the country's beloved Rosie O'Donnell turns out to be a venomous and mean old hag. We are use to being disappointed by reality and so-called "heroes"--so we turn to video games, Celebrity Circus, and so on.

When I think of a true TV journalist, Bill Moyers on PBS comes to mind. I know that when I watch one of his interviews, I will invariably learn something I didn't know previously. I never learned a damned thing when watching "Meet the Press". When I watched Moyers' recent interview with Jeremiah Wright, I learned what Black Liberation Theology was all about, its roots, as well as a few things about James Cone. I came out feeling that Wright was neither as bad as his detractors would have you believe, nor as great as his followers suggest....but in any event, I increased my knowledge, and could now converse intelligently about the man. A Russert interview would never even have scratched the surface. "Meet the Press" is nothing more than "National Enquirer" dressed up in respectable clothing.

All of this gushing about "the great Tim Russert" reminds me of that remake of "Titanic" back around 2000, which won Best Picture of the Year. When some fool where I worked told me that they thought it may well have been the greatest movie of all time (wonder where that leaves "Schindler's List", "Gone with the Wind", etc.).....I simply told them that it wasn't even a a good movie. It had won by default. And that they knew absolutely nothing about American cinema.

Such is my take on the host of this overrated and mundane TV show. History will be kind to Mr. will forget him.

btw--check out the Chris Mathews rant in which he diss'es his late colleague...Keith Olberman tried to save him (Mathews) by changing the subject, but he kept blathering on. He's getting slammed on the blogs by both right and left....couldn't happen to a nicer guy!!

by BJJ Fighter 2008-06-14 09:44PM | 0 recs
Matthews dissed Russert?

I thought they suffered from the same CDS. Odd.

by catfish2 2008-06-14 09:49PM | 0 recs
Essentially, Mathews asserted that Russert

represented your basic dumb American...that like most folks, he was duped by the administration on Iraq.

While I wasn't a fan of Russert, I can't say whether this was true or not. In any event, it was not pertinent to anything, and was incredibly nasty and self-serving (i.e., I "got" it, Russert didn't) other words, typical Chris Mathews. He's the only guy on cable who makes Bill O'Reilly look good.

by BJJ Fighter 2008-06-14 10:11PM | 0 recs
Matthews took an angry turn somewhere

his ourtageousness was once bizarre but always joyous before.

Now I see something odd in him, and he often pauses for a while to remember people's names. I get frightened watching him. Maybe he's mad at himself or mad at his colleagues about the Iraq War - he spoke out when Bush did the Correspondents Dinner routine looking for WMDs under tables, that was a bit earlier than the rest. He also mentioned his disappointment with the Iraq war in one of his books.

by catfish2 2008-06-14 10:30PM | 0 recs
Yeah, he's been acting pretty odd lately

After Obama swept the Beltway primaries, the MSNBC team was practically partying. Following Senator Obama's speech (a long 53 minutes), Mathews gushed, "oh my God, I just felt a chill run up my leg"...his colleagues tried to rescue him, but he just kept slobbering on. He's slowly moving from "news" to advocacy and opinion. Eventually, he'll be lumped in with Lou Dobbs and Bill O'Reilly, etc.

by BJJ Fighter 2008-06-14 10:52PM | 0 recs
It's been longer than lately

Matthews was an a**hole covering the Gore/Bush contest.
Matthews got worse with Hillary and it started long before the campaigning started.

Matthews says he is anti war and yet when Bush was on the ship, dressed like a pilot, under the phony MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner, Matthews was drooling about Bush's "sunny nobility". Anti war people were not impressed by that.  Matthews was.
Matthews was giggling and dissing Hillary Clinton with his "buddy" Tom Delay long before she declared her bid.

His hatred for the Clintons is scary.  But I warned the Obama people who defended Matthews.  He will turn on Obama.  And I believe he already has.

by Jjc2008 2008-06-15 05:03PM | 0 recs
Yeah, and then there's that laugh....

Mathews has that horrible laugh...God, it could curdle milk.

I still say the worst was David Gergen. After Senator Clinton's Tuesday night speech--i.e., when she was winning the South Dakota primary--the CNN gang was apoplectic that she hadn't followed their script. As usual, Gergen started babbling and compared her speech to Nixon's "Checkers Speech". Good old Gergen--all the traits of a dog except loyalty.

by BJJ Fighter 2008-06-15 07:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Russert was a nice guy, nothing more

Titanic won Best Picture??

by animated 2008-06-14 09:50PM | 0 recs
yeah, can you believe it??

My faith was restored about 4 years later, when a thoughtful and non-feel-good movie, "Crash", won the Best Picture award. Sometimes, Hollywood gets it right.

by BJJ Fighter 2008-06-14 10:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Joe Klein on Russert, the Clintons

I don't think that it was his job to be original, in that he should be doing something that no one else was doing. His job was to ask questions that people wanted to know the answers to.

Did he personally dislike the Clintons? Possibly. Did he allow that dislike of them to infiltrate the way that he covered them? It's also certainly possible. There has never been a single Newsman that has ever 100% impartial in every aspect of his reporting. I don't think that the level that he was unfair to them rises to the level of calling into question his ethics or his standing as a journalist. There are certainly many people, even those who admire the Clintons, who have reservations about certain aspects of their public life.

As for his way of questioning people, I think that it is completely valid. He forced politicians to defend their stances on issues and he did it in a way that for the most part, non-confrontational and informative. I would love if Meet The Press could be a hour long introspective interview show with one guest, but there is also a reason why Bill Moyers is on Public Television and not NBC. Not very other people will watch it, which is sad but also true. I think he did the best he could in the format and situation that was available to him.

by JENKINS 2008-06-14 10:00PM | 0 recs
Most viewers already knew the answers to

Russert's questions, that's my point. Little if any new ground was ever plowed. It became like "Larry King Live" during the OJ Mess--nothing newsworthy, just a re-hash of shit that everyone already knew. Semi-decent ratings, giving viewers a chance to wallow in stuff that was already in the headlines.

Can't disagree with what you say about Moyers, and why he's on PBS. But it's not like the "big 3" networks are really a factor anymore, either. The public continues to get more of its news online and/or from cable outlets.

by BJJ Fighter 2008-06-14 10:21PM | 0 recs
Especially in the last 8 or so years

he broke no new ground. Got so I watched ABC, CBS, CNN even Fox on Sunday but not MTP, so formulaic.

Ask guest question, listen to answer. Then say "but you said this in 1998" present quote on screen, listen to guest's response. Ask guest next question.

He never followed up. Like he had all his questions and all his gotcha quotes lined up and he was going to get them all in the full hour every time, fully scripted before the show started. No following a thread of discussion to unearth something he hadn't thought of.

by catfish2 2008-06-14 10:34PM | 0 recs
Well said. And not everyone got the same

treatment. I'll never forget his last sit-down with Dick Cheney; Russert was just as sweet as pie. So much for the notion of big tough Tim, who was never intimidated. With Cheney, he changed from "big Russ" to "big Wuss".

by BJJ Fighter 2008-06-14 10:40PM | 0 recs
Remember him interviewing Bush

in the Oval Office? That was a classic.

by catfish2 2008-06-14 10:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Joe Klein on Russert, the Clintons

Politico has an article up on who might step into Russert's shoes.

"I can't imagine them going outside NBC," said Andrew Tyndall, an independent television analyst, who added that he considers the network's news operation the strongest in television.

Tyndall said that if he were NBC News President Steve Capus, a short list for the position would include White House correspondent David Gregory, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell -- both of whom have guest-hosted "Meet the Press" -- as well as political director Chuck Todd and "Hardball" host Chris Matthews. Two dark-horse candidates could be "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough or perhaps former "Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw -- that is, if he had any interest in returning to such a prominent role.

At this point my guess would be David Gregory, but who knows? In will certainly be an important pick, in terms of journalism and in terms of politics.

by animated 2008-06-14 10:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Joe Klein on Russert, the Clintons


by xdem 2008-06-14 10:10PM | 0 recs
Gregory would be the worst possible choice.

So you are correct, he's probably the inevitable choice of the UNBC suits.


by tbetz 2008-06-15 10:30AM | 0 recs
watch this video go to the video called "The Life and Legacy of Tim Russert" and watch how biased the video is against the Clintons. They're showing clips of people, then they show one of Bill Clinton, followed by a short clip of cheney, but then a long clip of Ross Perot, just to peddle more of the myth that pro-choice pro-gay anti-nafta LIBERAL Perot changed the outcome, followed by a clip of Russert asking Al Gore "Filegate, Travelgate, Whitewater, whats wrong with those as legitimate issues?" and then him pressing Hillary on running for President. It makes me sick how much that network hates the Clintons. While I feel sorry for Russert, I hope NBC rots in hell for their Clinton hate. The Clintons are the best Americans alive goddammit and I will not stand idly by and watch them be disrespected.

by Lakrosse 2008-06-15 12:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Joe Klein on Russert, the Clintons

The Clintons rock! YEAH!

by spacemanspiff 2008-06-15 12:43AM | 0 recs
Great diary!

Some people here look for reasons to attack people for not being pro-Obama enough.  Sad.

by psychodrew 2008-06-15 12:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Joe Klein on Russert, the Clintons

I stand by what I said in response to soyousay on Friday. He was not always fair and honest, but he always tried to be. And that is just as honorable, if not moreso. It will be very, very difficult to find someone else like that, let alone anyone who has anywhere near his level of expertise and knowledge.

by vcalzone 2008-06-15 01:43AM | 0 recs
Honest question for spunkmeyer:

Are you a Republican troll who posts on MyDD in an effort to sew seeds of division amongst Democrats, in an effort to elevate John McCain to the White House?

I'm almost positive you are, but not 100% sure.

The only other option I can think of is obnoxious pre-teen who doesn't play well with others and is playing on Mommy's computer.

Can anyone else help me out, and come up with an explanation for this particular members posting "style"?

by PJ Jefferson 2008-06-15 03:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Honest question for spunkmeyer:

He isn't. If he is, he's a very thoughtful one if you actually try to talk to him.

by vcalzone 2008-06-15 06:31AM | 0 recs
I honestly can't tell if he's a troll or just a

really shitty communicator.  All I know is that he insults all Hillary supporters all b/c there are a few "deadenders" WHO DON'T EVEN POST ON MYDD!!!

I'm sick of him insulting me b/c of something someone posted on hillaryis44.  I've never even been to hillaryis44, but I jave to be insulted and see condtant thread hijacking over here at MYDD?

Fuck that.  I say ban him and let him go to hillaryis44 and be obnoxious over there - towards his actual target audience. Sorry for the typos but I typed this on my blackberry.

by PJ Jefferson 2008-06-15 06:43AM | 0 recs
Oh wait!

 I missed the subject line! I thought youwere talking about catfish2! No, I have no clue about spunkmeyer. I'm getting tired of the snark, though. i'm with you.

by vcalzone 2008-06-15 07:03AM | 0 recs
hey catfish

excellent diary, I am not going to use my rec/rate abilities for a while but you get a virtual rec and showers of mojo from me.

Really good diary, and you are right about objectivity with journalists.

by Student Guy 2008-06-15 11:52AM | 0 recs


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