Tim Russert: Now Washington's Creepiest Exhibit

A mostly political weblog.
Oct. 8 2009 5:52 PM

Tim Russert: Now Washington's Creepiest Exhibit

Creepy on so many levels. ... 1) He just died; 2) He wasn't that important. This isn't Winston Churchill. (The vacuity of David Gregory just makes him seem like Winston Churchill); 3) They've recreated the way his office looked on the day he died. Morbid!  4) It's like they're trying to build some kind of cult of the personality, with the family willingly invading its own privacy to help out ('Look, there's Luke's childhood drawing'); 5) Making a big deal of Russert's I-love-the-Bills schtick assumes it's shocking that a high-level Washington news guy would be an ordinary middle class American. Bureau chiefs, they're just like us! 6) Does the exhibit include an animatronic NBC butler ?**  7) Will it include Lloyd Grove's famous, damning profile of Russert-on-the-make? 8)  Self-important, dying industry attempts to fetishize its prominent members before it is completely forgotten. 9) NBC News in particular seems to be living in the past. ...

Coming soon : Luke Ford's Grotto! Kids will love it . ...

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P.S.: I'm sure Gawker  goes to town on this, but I haven't read Gawker yet. Update: They do . Jack Shafer beat me to mockery too . By hours. Lucky for me speed isn't important in this business. [ The contrarian thing would be to defend the exhibit--ed Defending Russert can't be contrarian. That violates a law of physics.]

**-- Ali. Maybe he gets a whole new wing! ... 3:15 P.M.

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Dan Kennedy and Oliver Willis have never heard of absentee ballots (not to mention the fun you can have with same-day registration). ... 3:16 P.M.

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The most striking statistic in Mark Kleiman's terrific Zocalo crime lecture (about his new book, When Brute Force Fails ) concerned the benefits of sending nurses "into the homes of poor and undereducated first-time teenage mothers to coach them through their children's difficult first two years."   From the book:

In a well-evaluated experiment in upsate New York, nurse home visitation for expectant mothers whose demographic profiles put their children at high risk of poor outcomes reduced the arrests among the children of those mothers by 69 percent compared to the matched control group. If that result is even close to correct, nurse home visitation focused on high risk mothers is surely cost-effective as crime control ... [ emphasis added; footnote omitted ]

This is one of those social science advocacy stats that sets off too-good-to-be-true alarm bells , as Kleiman's own reaction suggests. The number's so spectacular, though, that he thinks its clearly worth a large scale trial. "Given how important parenting is, and given how intensive the intervention is, and given how rocky some of the moms are to start out, I don't find the big numbers implausible," he writes in an email to kf . Even James Q. "Lock-'Em-Up" Wilson is on board. ... Call it something like Pinpoint Liberalism, in which a consensus forms for at least going after what looks like low-hanging fruit, while avoiding a general subsidy for, say, "community development" (which won't be as easy as you'd think). ... Lead reduction, which Kleiman (a bit surprisingly) thinks helped contribute to the recent crime drop, is another obvious targeted effort. ...

P.S.: I'd link to Kleiman's book on Amazon, but then the I might be putting myself at the mercy of a man named Richard Cleland , or someone like him. [I have no idea what, if any, arrangement  Slate has with Amazon these days. **] ... Oh, all right. It's here . Come and get me, copper! [ That's the lead talking-ed ] ...

**-- My previous elaborate conflict-of-interest disclosures have already failed to pass muster even with Howie Kurtz, the man with the biggest conflict of interest in all of journalism , so I'd better be careful where the FTC is concerned. ...

P.P.S.--Still Digging: I just linked to Zocalo, which is kind of doing them a favor. I like their lectures, which fill a local civic need. Unfortunately, they also invited me to their fundraiser on Saturday , which I think means free dinner. Yikes. ... And now I've linked to their fundraiser. That must be worth millions. I'm a cesspool of corruption today. ...   4:50 P.M.

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More: The FTC's new blog disclosure regs seem to be governed by the established First Amendment principle of "Oh, don't worry, we'll never go after you. We like you . " Don't Olson , Shafer , Althouse , et al. realize this?. ... P.S.: I don't think blogging or twittering is like talking at Denny's  (Jeff Jarvis' analogy). At Denny's you talk to the guys across the table. You blog or twitter to the whole world. That means something . What it means, I think, is that bloggers are on the same constitutional footing as conventional MSM journalists. They're all publishers. That's why it's so absurd and self-contradictory for the FTC to then exempt the most important, powerful (and occasionally corrupt publishers)--the MSM itself. ... P.P.S.: These regs are so doomed. ...

Backfill: Years ago, Michael Kinsley wrote an eerily prescient reductio ad absurdum of what an actual, full conflict-of-interest disclosure would look like. I haven't been able to find it. Think it was in his Curse of the Giant Muffins . ... Update:  Kinsley suggests it's this 2000 piece , which is very funny. But I remember another one. What does he know? ...  6:49 P.M.

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