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Tim Russert died too soon; so has my mourning

June 15, 2008

I mourned with the nation when I heard that Tim Russert had died—I mean, it was GREAT to watch him at work—but I could only handle about 20 minutes of the discussion about him this morning on Meet the Press. The moment Maria Shriver showed up and started talking about how great he was—he introduced her to a nun Tim loved, as I remember, and Maria would often autograph books for this nun—I caught an ick vibe w/r/t watching all the rich people talk about their rich departed friend, who was noted as remarkable, in part, because he came from Buffalo and still managed to fit in among the smart, rich people in Washington.

I’m all for journalists doing well, but, even in memorial moments, they should resist using their national platform to promote themselves and their own star power. They should be as I’ve typically thought Russert to be—of and for the people. But, even as Brokaw, Carville, Matalin, Shriver and the others spoke kindly of their friend’s common-man persona, I felt more and more as though he was just one of “them” rather than one of “us.”

I’m all for the media elite, by the way: I want the people on the national stage to be the best of the best. However, when they let their guard down because of emotion—as many of them have this week—then they risk seeming not just elite, but elitist.

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