Saturday, June 14, 2008

These Are The Pearls That Were His Eyes

Update: Michelle Malkin, quicker off the starting block with the story, has a better take on the man. She wrote as NBC's grief-fest was just getting underway. (H/T to The Liberty Sphere). Three days on, I stand by my own opinion:

Enough already!

Okay. Tim Russert is dead. He was an all-right guy, as newsies go; I've met him and he was a bit better than all right. (Hey, he was a good sport and played along when the TV series Homicide gave him a fictional cousin, even). And his co-workers miss him already. I get that.

Now lay off! The news media are not the story.

Really. Eric Severied, a man with a possibly checkered past, one of the better writers the talkie media have produced and a generally amazing guy, got his last 30* in 1992 and his network did not drape itself in black crepe and weep.

Harry Reasoner went in '91. His way with words is still commented upon. Did his peers don sackcloth and ashes? --If they did, they kept their mouths shut other than reporting the story and doing a decent bio. When you consider that "peers" in this context includes the entire soggily-emoting CBS News staff, well, golly. Gould it be that even that lot were dimly aware that they are not the story?

Chet Huntley said his last "Goodnight, David" in '74 and Brinkley departed much later (and with a little more fanfare -- a couple of minutes each on the morning show and the evening network news, if I remember), in 2003, though not before redefining the very kind of Sunday political roundtable where Tim Russert would later make his mark .

...I could go on. We lost a generation of network news reporters and commentators in the last twenty years; while most of them were way too far Left to suit me, a good many of them were, at least, suspicious of Authority for its own sake, wonderfully cynical about the intentions and good sense of politicians and, to a man, they could write and speak effectively. And they all died and are gone, to very little fanfare.

There is no dearth of news today but there just may be a glut of newsreaders and a lack of reporters. The easy story is the one right down the hall and the easy story that "speaks to the heart" is the one that speaks directly to the writer's heart. NBC News, I'm sorry you lost a skilled colleague and a well-liked friend but he is not the news. Report his death, cry in private and get back to work.

--And man up a little, willya? It's creepy to see grown up men blathering like schoolgirls. Ew.
* "30" is what you put at the end of a written story -- news or fiction; anything after that isn't for publication. Often typed -30- or ###. It's a "Philips code" abbreviation at least as old as telegraphic newswires, an example of one of the very first (and highly successful) data-compression schemes. An old-timey press telegrapher would type away at about twice as many words per minute as the incoming text, translating to plain language on the fly.


Anonymous said...

Grown ups. OK. But men? No not many of those left.

BobG said...

"Now lay off! The news media are not the story."

Trust the media to put more importance in the messenger than the message.

Turk Turon said...

A guy I work with is a cameraman on the Chris Matthews Sunday show. They usually tape it Friday, but this week they taped it on Thursday so that Matthews could fly to Paris to be with his son. Matthews found out about Russert's death when he landed in Paris. He never left the airport; flew right back to D.C. and they taped another show on Saturday.

We were watching the Matthews show this morning in our green room and my friend pointed out that they used a lot of wide shots and rarely went to Matthews' close-up. That's because Matthews was tearing up a lot during the taping.

Russert had a lot of loyal friends. He sounds like a great guy.

But that doesn't make his death any more noteworthy than some obscure Secretary of Agriculture in the Carter Administration. Jeez!

Welshman said...

Thanks for the link, Roberta!
The Liberty Sphere