# Tim Russert

Tapping Brokaw to replace Russert is a smart move

NBC announced today that Tom Brokaw will host the Sunday morning show “Meet the Press” at least through the November election. That was a very shrewd decision.

A former longtime evening news anchor, Brokaw has more than enough stature for the job.

Equally important, Brokaw can help the network repair some of the damage that was done by MSNBC commentators who were biased against Hillary Clinton during the primaries.

Here’s Brokaw bluntly criticizing the way some of his colleagues covered the race:

“It was inappropriate, for journalists especially, to try to cut the process short,” NBC News’ anchor emeritus, Tom Brokaw, told The Associated Press. “It was an appropriate issue for people to report on, in context, but there was an awful lot of commentary disguised as reporting that gave the impression that people were trying to shove her out of the race.”

Brokaw’s old-school attitude often put him at odds with Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann when he joined them for primary night coverage on MSNBC this year. One example was last Tuesday. Brokaw was talking about the contrasts between McCain and Obama when Olbermann interjected about “a third one trying to shoehorn her way” into the coverage.

“Well, I think that’s unfair, Keith,” Brokaw replied. “I don’t think she shoehorned her way in. When you look at the states that she won and the popular vote that she piled up, and the number of delegates that she has on her side, she’s got real bargaining power in all of this.”

Brokaw called all the discussion about Clinton’s exit a product of “too much time and too little imagination.”

This recent profile of “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann in the New Yorker quotes Brokaw several times as having doubts about the commentary on MSNBC. This passage was particularly telling:

Brokaw says he sometimes feels that he has been cast in the role of hall monitor at NBC News; if so, his charges have kept him busy. The day after the New Hampshire primary, Matthews asserted that Hillary Clinton owed her election as senator to public sympathy for her in light of her husband’s sexual peccadilloes. “It was completely out of line,” Brokaw says. “And Keith took it to another level” with his “shut the hell up” commentary.

In March, after Geraldine Ferraro said that Obama would not be where he is if he were not a black man, Olbermann issued a Special Comment that was aimed expressly at Clinton’s advisers (and their countenancing of Ferraro’s “cheap, ignorant, vile racism”) but that struck Clinton nonetheless. “Voluntarily or inadvertently,” Olbermann said, addressing Clinton directly, “you are still awash in this filth.”

Olbermann and Chris Matthews were way out of line with their Hillary-bashing this spring. Because their comments were not isolated incidents, they left a deeper taint on the network than NBC correspondent David Shuster’s offhand remark that the Clinton campaign “pimped out” Chelsea Clinton, which got him suspended.

The New Yorker profile of Olbermann makes clear that network executives were uncomfortable with how antagonistic coverage of Hillary became on “Countdown.”

Picking Brokaw to host “Meet the Press” signals that NBC is not going to let that very influential program tilt strongly in one direction during the general election campaign.

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Sunday Mornings with Tim Russert

(I imagine a lot of people learned the language of politics from Tim Russert. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Back in 1992 my family had just moved to Ankeny from Charlotte, North Carolina and we arrived in town and spent the next week living in the Best Western hotel on the corner of 1st and Deleware. Like every other child I would wake up in the morning on Sundays and watch whatever cartoons and kids shows were on.  However that week was different because we were all in one room and with only one television I watched what my parents wanted to watch and that was Meet the Press with Tim Russert and I was hooked.  We moved into our house on SE Peterson, but our moving truck had still not arrived so my family slept on the floor of our living room and while the rest of the week was filled with working to get our house in order we still watched Meet the Press with Tim Russert on Sunday and I had watched it nearly every week since.  Throughout the years my family moved to different houses in Ankeny, we watched T.V. in different rooms and our tastes in other shows grew and faded, but Meet the Press remained constant.

This was before the internet, 24 hour news stations, and before I knew the difference between a Republican and a Democrat.  I learned the language of politics from watching Tim Russert and the became a critical thinker by learning to question what I was being told and to be able to seperate what was someone giving their facts or their opinion.  It was not flashy and it didn't need to be.  There was nothing to distract us from issues that really mattered and questions that we ourselves asked.  We learned about the person being interviewed but we also learned about ourselves.  While every other part of the news media has changed,  Meet the Press had remained the same.  I learned about politics from the good to the bad and everything inbetween.

 I had the honor of meeting Tim Russert at last year's  Jefferson Jackson Dinner in Des Moines.  He had been talking with a few people and I was standing by waiting for them to finish their conversation and Tim saw me waiting patiently and after he finished he approached me and we chatted.  Other than introducing myself and thanking him for talking to me, I can't remember one thing I said, but I remembered that he acted more excited to talk to me than I was to talk to him.  He asked me questions about where I was from and who I was supporting and why I was supporting them and would wear an expression on his face as if what I said really mattered to him.  I remember thinking that my opinion really mattered to him and that he held on to every word I said.  He thanked me for getting involved in politics and said I would be watching a part of history that night. 

This Sunday Meet the Press won't be on and Tim Russert has passed on but I will always remember how he has touched my life.  The biggest thing I have taken away from Meet the Press with Tim Russert is that politicans have to follow the facts, the facts can't follow the politican.

Open thread: Remembering Tim Russert

NBC commentator and "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert died today of a heart attack at the age of 58. It's a frightening reminder that no one can ever be certain of living to see the sun rise tomorrow.

Post your thoughts and memories of Russert's work here.

UPDATE: MisterOpus1’s diary is worth reading: “Tomorrow, Doc. I know what I have to do. I’m starting tomorrow.”