Thursday, November 17, 2005

Mainstream media mouthpiece Russert needs to get his priorities straight

Back in the day, I would to set my alarm for 9:15 AM on Sunday mornings, wherein I would make coffee and sit down for an hour and a half to watch the Sunday morning political news shows on ABC, NBC, and CBS. (Every so often, I would dare flip to Fox, otherwise known as the propaganda outfit of the Bush administration).

Anyway, I ended this practice about the time I started college, not only because I treasured my sleep, but because I treasured my mental health. The Sunday morning shows consistently got their coverage wrong, causing me to yell at the TV out loud or in my head, which one can only do for so long. After awhile, the Cokie Roberts-Sam Donaldson duo was too much for me to bare. I stopped watching the news shows. The following is another reason why.

During the Clinton presidency, a constant topic on these shows was Clinton's "appearance of guilt," which opened the talk show floor up to much speculation accompanied by little analysis based on fact (NOTE: no one was indicted or convicted of crimes connected to the Whitewater investgation). For those who think the press relishes a scandal--a view that I find overly-simplistic--ask yourselves why we don't here the cacophony of scandal-mongering from the bygone days of Clinton now that members of the Bush administration are being questioned both in a criminal and in a moral context about their actions, actions that are undeniably much more serious.

A very recent example of the D.C. press corps's misplaced priorities is Tim Russert's recent interview with DNC Chairman Howard Dean. First, after Dean pointed out that the administration lied in connecting Saddam to Iraq as a justification for going to war there, Russert incorrectly asserted that they had never done such a thing. Russert then grilled Dean persistently about why the Democrats had no specific answers to problems they have been bringing light to--problems from health care to the tax code to the war. Dean pointed out that (1) the Democrats do have answers and (2) the Democrats, who currently are the minority in the House, Senate, and who don't hold the presidency, are the opposition party. In practical terms, there is no point in the opposition party constructing specific legislation unless they can get it passed through bipartisan support. Something like guaranteed healthcare or a revision of the tax code isn't going to go through this Congress, and that's why we need to "clean House" (pun very much intended).

So why did Russert persist in this line of questioning, even after Dean gave what was a very genuine and logical answer? My guess: Tim feels lost if he is not trying to find something wrong with Democrats, which he is so accustomed to doing. Back in the '90s, mainstream media deans like Russert weren't among that group of people who were increasingly frustrated that the Republicans didn't have any intention of getting to the nation's business. Funny then how doggedly Tim pursued Dean on this question, despite Democrats being the minority party. Funnier still that, as in the 1990s, the group that does care that Republicans aren't getting to the nation's business--as polls continually show--are the American people. Russert would do the country a favor to join the rest of us and get to what really matters in this country. I'll give you a hint, Tim: it's not what you think it is.


william t nelson said...

Imus always goes on and on about how much his son Wyatt Imus loves Russert. Of course his son can be forgiven, he's only seven.

Russert definitely sucks at trying to be "balanced", because he always echos misleading positions from this administration, and before that DeLay and others. Another perfect example was the Murthas interview on MSNBC [not by Tim]. Lehrer would be much better at that job, but of course it won't happen, and that's probably for the best. Russert is better when he is the one answering the question, as on Imus. Of course, Woodward can just go straight to hell.

This week looks like it could have been some kind of turning point, in which case your prediction may have been right.

Elaine said...

Agreed with you about Russert. Wyatt Imus. Great name. Who's Don married to?

Also, what are you up to? Haven't seen you in awhile...