[Washington is] a town of revolving doors, for which Mr. Russert was something of an exemplar, for better or worse. …
Mr. Russert liked to seem sheepishly above-it-all, but was also as acutely status-conscious, befitting the local water. He was always mindful of not appearing too often on MSNBC, NBC's cable cousin, for fear of diluting his big-league brand. ...
Writing in his blog today, New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney recalled the early 1980s, when Russert worked as a bare-knuckled counselor to New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo and Nagourney covered the Cuomo administration for the Daily News. Nagourney reveals nothing ugly, nor does he shine Russert's halo as he sketches a portrait of the young highhanded political operative.
And in the Saturday Los Angeles Times, columnist Tim Rutten knocked the press for its saccharine assessment of Russert, writing:
Watching the cable news networks in the hours after his death, one was struck by the outpouring of admiration and affection from across the political spectrum and from journalistic colleagues of every sort. It was impossible not to be struck—once again—by just how incestuous and claustrophobic the Washington-based nexus of politics and journalism has become.
I wonder whether the media grievers gave a moment of thought to how this Russert torrent they produced played with viewers and readers. Did the grievers really think Russert was so important, so vital to the nation's course, and such an elevated human being that he deserved hour upon hour of tribute? I wonder whether any of the responsible journalists paused to think, Hey, this is really weird. We're using our unchecked editorial power to soak the nation with our tears about our friend, and that's unseemly!
On days like this, I, too, hate the press.
I, too, have paid tribute to a great journalist who was also a friend on the occasion of her death. In my defense, you should know that my editor assigned the piece (I didn't want to do it), and she wasn't the media commodity Russert was. And the piece was only 1,200 words long. Am I guilty or innocent? Judge me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (E-mail may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum, in a future article, or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.) Track my errors: This hand-built RSS feed will ring every time Slate runs a "Press Box" correction. For e-mail notification of errors in this specific column, type the word Russert in the subject head of an e-mail message and send it to email@example.com.