The circle is now complete

I’ve been meaning to blog about this piece for a few days, which I found via Digby. I’ve got the chance now, so might as well have at it.

The article is about Luke Russert, son of the famed Tim Russert, who hosted Meet the Press for so many years. The article opens with Luke Russert’s “big break,” which apparently occurred during the Anthony Wiener Twitter incident. There are some quotes in there from people about how Russert handled himself well, which he very well might have. I don’t remember. I didn’t pay that scandal much mind. Here’s a representative sample:

To hear Luke Russert’s friends and colleagues tell it, that watershed Weiner interview was public proof of something they had watched happen over the course of nearly three years.

This really is reflective of the state of our media system. Did Russert uncover some brutal acts by our military or private contractors overseas? No. Did Russert unearth some damning documents about bank or insurance giant malfeasance? No. Did Russert produce a muckraking report that laid bare the real dangers of hydrofracking and called into question the absolute bullcrap that energy companies have been saying about the process? No. Did Russert ascertain some enlightening facts about public and private sector collusion during the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis? No. Did he find some documents that demonstrated the extent of our Black Ops programs in who-knows-how-many countries that have zero transparency or accountability? No. Did he author a report on the perverse incentives that NCLB and the full-throttle emphasis on test scores has entailed? No.

Luke Russert asked the tough questions to a Congressman who was dumb enough to tweet a picture of his dick to some poor girl. That’s the towering act of unvarnished courage that demonstrated Luke Russert’s arrival. Later on in the article, recalling the late Tim Russert, this passage appears:

Remaining composed throughout a long interview on NBC’s “Today Show” only three days after his father died, a chubby-cheeked Luke Russert said of his father: “I really, honestly believe that he saw himself as the questioner for the American people. He obviously did his job for himself, for his network, for his family, but at his core I believe he had a higher calling, a responsibility to educate the American public about the candidates who seek the highest office in the land.”

That’s a nice idea. I can understand why Luke would believe that. But it’s still nauseating. A responsibility to educate the American public? Please. Tim Russert, as Bob Somerby ably demonstrates here, said exactly what the men upstairs wanted him to say (here for more missteps). Lying about the solvency of Social Security isn’t looking out for the interests of the American masses; it’s looking out for the interests of the moneyed few.

And Tim Russert, lest we forget, was a member of the moneyed few. Russert made millions of dollars during his career. Social Security didn’t matter to him. But most Americans are not that fortunate. Russert aggressively misinformed people about Social Security for years, to the detriment of the American populace’s knowledge and the country’s discourse. Saying that isn’t “grave-dancing” or taking shots at him. It’s the truth.

The article goes on to give another example of Luke Russert’s indefatigable reporting:

“Did you ever worry about losing your job?” Russert asked, matter-of-factly.

“What are you talking about? You’re just trying to make copy? What job? The one I got?”

“Yes, I mean [these are] serious violations,” Russert countered.

“How do you think — how do you think I got my job? I was elected, right? How do you think I’d lose it?

“There’s two ways. You could lose it [if] your colleagues voted you out of here because of ethics violations, or your constituents voted you out.”

“Well, you’re young,” Rangel snapped. “I guess you do need to make a name for yourself. But basically, you know it’s a dumb question and I’m not going to answer it.”

Rangel apologized to Russert the next day, but the damage was done. Rangel looked testy and defensive — and Russert looked like a journalist who would stand his ground.

… that’s it? Charlie Rangel committed egregious ethics violations that serve so well as a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with the nexus of lobbying, legislating and, most of all, money in Washington D.C. And Luke’s ball-busting question was, “Are you worried about losing your job?” Come on.

Then there are some nice quotes from Congressmen and other Villagers. I think it was towards the end of the piece, as Russert admits that his dad’s legacy got him the opportunity, where my attitude towards Russert changed. I was angry for a while, especially given the tongue-bath the author of the article so eagerly provides to thee Russerts.

But I don’t really hold it against Luke Russert. He seems like a decent guy. He’s self-aware enough to realize that Tim is the reason his foot got in the door. He lost his father, which, whatever I think of Tim Russert, and I don’t think highly of him, is immensely difficult. And he tries to shield his girlfriend from the spotlight, which is thoughtful. I think my head came crashing back to earth when I read the first two comments, which read:

Excellent piece-i expect to hear much more from Luke in years to come.

Proud of our fellow Buffalonian… and DC Bills Backer. Go Bills, and Go Luke!

For the record, the latest two comments are critical of Luke Russert. But it never ceases to amaze me how people really do like “reporters” and “newspeople” for their personalities. Because for me, as I referenced in this post about Anderson Cooper, that’s not important. I don’t give a shit whether Luke Russert is a nice guy. It doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t.

The reason that I won’t respect him (until he proves me wrong) is that he’s part of a system that doesn’t deserve respect. If Russert just once combats a Congresscritter on an issue of real substance, NBC will ship his ass out in a second and hire someone that won’t blink twice when the next Republican claims that tax cuts raise revenue or that the size of government has exploded under Obama. Russert’s job isn’t to do substantive journalism. His job is to get mildly stern when some idiot sexually harasses a women or some corrupt Congressmen condescends to the entire country. He may not be a bad fellow on a personal level, but it is isn’t about what he is. It’s about what (and whom) he represents.

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