I've been waiting to see what The Daily Howler would say about Tim Russert's death. As usual, Bob Somerby's media critique hit home:
Based on what we saw first-hand, we would guess that Brother Russert really was the nicest guy in the world.
Sometimes, though, “nicest guys in the world” are the last to challenge conventional wisdom—even when it desperately needs to be challenged, examined, hollered about. In Tim’s case, we think he showed poor judgment in various instances over the years, as we’re all inclined to do. Chris Matthews touched on one possible error in judgment in his comments from Paris on Friday’s Countdown (text below). For once, we think Chris’ lack of impulse control served the public understanding—although he’s getting beaten up for his comment at various spots on the web.
Over the weekend, other members of the mainstream press corps did the thing that comes natural inside their group; they went on the air and told Group Tales, tales which reflected quite wondrously on Tim’s journalistic work—and, of course, by extension, most importantly, on them. Telling the truth is pretty much the last thing that enters these people’s heads. And so, they handed out novelized tales about Tim’s always brilliant work—failing to make the slightest attempt to be balanced, objective or truthful.
Highly-paid TV and print journalists like Russert had a job to do, since the 9/11 attacks: Don't let your emotions, or the raw emotions of the American public, cloud your judgment. Report on what is happening, not on what you wish is happening. Stay independent.
These journalists failed. Russert's heart attack does not change that fact. If Brit Hume were hit by a truck, or a 16-ton weight fell on Judith Miller, nothing would change about the history of the last several years, marked by the failure of the American press to do its job.