RUSH: Tim Russert passed away before the program ended, but the news on Friday didn’t happen until afterwards. I actually got the news at about a quarter of three Friday afternoon in an e-mail that said ‘Not For Reporting’ because it hadn’t been confirmed. A very, very, very sad thing. I knew Tim Russert, and he was just a prince of a guy. But I have to tell you, folks, this orgy of coverage from about four o’clock Friday afternoon on ceased to be about Tim Russert and instead it’s been about the media and who they are and how important they are. It’s almost taken on a Princess Diana circumstance, where everybody wanted to be part of the story. All these people, second and third, fourth, fifth tier people coming out, ‘Yeah, Tim was a big friend of mine,’ and telling all these stories. The media doing everything they could to make this about them and their role in American culture today. It got to be a little bit unseemly after awhile, as it went nonstop into Saturday and into Sunday. He was on this program in June of 2004 talking about his book on his dad, Big Russ, and we have a couple of sound bites from that interview we’re going to play later on in the program today.
I had spoken to him about that book prior to his writing it. His son Luke was down here at PGA National taking golf lessons, and I went up and I had dinner with Tim at Shula’s Steak House. He was researching the book and he wanted stories from a lot of people about the relationships that they had with their fathers, and he spoke to me about my relationship with my dad. We had a wonderful three hours there at Shula’s Steak House up at PGA National, and for a time there I was his sole guest on CNBC every Thanksgiving and they ran it for the whole week, CNBC every Thanksgiving. He had me on Meet the Press a number of times and invited me a number of times this year when I could not make it to discuss various things. He was everything that you thought he would be when you met him and when you saw him on television. He was part of the elite, but he didn’t act it. He still maintained his ties to his blue-collar background and Buffalo. It’s just a real shame, and the poor guy, he was the closest thing to an objective journalist at any of the networks, totally honest, and now they’re in the process there of trying to figure out who they can replace him with.
Believe me, that started Friday afternoon behind the scenes as well, too, don’t be silly if you think there was a little moratorium on that. It’s a very competitive business, and that’s totally understandable. But I see the exploitation of his death, the way it’s happening out there. I think the media, when Peter Jennings died, they had this giant ceremony at Carnegie Hall, and they try to make themselves out to be far more important and bigger than they actually are. They try to prove that they are still relevant. There’s a story here in the New York Times from this morning, it’s by David Carr, and the headline really sums up what I’m trying to say here, and of course the fewest words that you can say to make a point, the more powerful the point: ‘In Mourning for a Man and His Era.’ Now, that’s the telling part of this story and his era, because who they going to put in there? There is no Tim Russert. They did not develop a bench. Whoever they put in there is not going to be Tim Russert. There are no more Tim Russerts in news. There just aren’t. He was the last of his type, because Drive-By Media has changed totally in the last 20 years.
Let me read the salient point here from David Carr’s piece in the New York Times. ‘For decades, American national politics has been the province of a meritocracy, a self-nominated, self-important bunch who choose to be part of the media-political apparatus because it is a bloody sport for very high stakes. And it has historically pivoted around a rather tidy triangle defined by the parlors of Georgetown, the lobbyists on K Street and lunches at The Palm. And once a week, hierarchy is assigned and tribute is paid on the Sunday morning shows, with ‘Meet the Press’ long being the more equal of equals. You won’t hear this on a Sunday morning show — not this week and not any — but this political season suggests politics don’t work that way any more. As media platforms have multiplied and coverage has become ubiquitous, custody of the political narrative has left the Beltway.’
This is what they’re actually ‘funeralizing’ on all this over-the-top coverage on DNCTV. They know with the passing of Russert an era has gone, and the ability of the Drive-By Media to define the narrative and the action line of what the American people see, hear, read, and think about daily news coming out of Washington has been lost in terms of their having a monopoly over it, and they know it. And, frankly, folks, as I have mentioned on many previous and prior occasions, I think their understanding of the loss of their monopoly has made them come out of the closet. When I was growing up the whole notion of the liberal media was well known to a lot of people, but they at least hid behind the pretense of objectivity. They’re no less liberal today than they are today, but what’s different today is that they’ve shed the pretense. Journalism is now actively being touted as the broadcast and the writing of opinion, and it is undisguised. It’s taken on a whole new role, and the reason is they’ve always chosen sides, they’ve always chosen sides in political issues, races and so forth, without saying so. Now they’re saying so essentially.
Now it’s well known for whom they are in the tank, and they’re doing this out of the need to compete because there is now an alternative media that has been quite successful at blunting the agenda and the narrative on every story that they attempt to define. They’re very much aware of it. So the whole notion that this little formula that’s existed with the unholy alliance between the Drive-By Media and the Washington political and social classes, the elites, which we have talked about countless times also on this program, has now been blown to smithereens, custody of the political narrative has left the Beltway. The political narrative is now a jumble. They still have the narrative, don’t misunderstand. The Drive-Bys still have their narrative, but it gets blown up within seconds of their narrative being broadcast or written or what have you.
This is why the Obama campaign is just trashing bloggers and me out the wazoo since last Thursday. It is because they cannot dispute what we say, so they have to discredit us in terms of as many Americans as possible so that whatever we say is not believed. This is how they choose to hold on to their narrative. So the passing of Tim Russert has, I think, for most in the media really focused on and clarified even more what they’ve lost. So this weekend of coverage has really been essentially the Drive-By Media presiding at its own funeral. As I say, it ceased to be about Tim Russert by about four o’clock Friday afternoon. However, we’re not going to forget Tim Russert here and make this about me or us. We’ll let you hear Tim Russert at his best on a couple little sound bites here from June of 2004, as the program unfolds today. There are other items in the news we want to get to as well, so sit tight. We’ll come back and get started with all the rest of it right after this.
RUSH: Now we got Vinny in the Bronx back. Vinny, hello.
CALLER: Hey, great one. FDNY dittos.
RUSH: Thanks, sir, very much.
CALLER: What’s the odds of actually getting through to you twice in one day? Incredible, I imagine.
RUSH: It’s very difficult to do, but we have a little star on your line, Vinny. We know it’s you.
CALLER: (laughs) Listen, you’re more right than you know as always. It’s always about the media, whom I’ve always thought is much more the enemy than the Democratic Party themselves are. I seem to remember their self-inflated importance really coming through during the early days of the Iraq war. When some reporters, unfortunately, lost their lives, it seemed wall-to-wall then about the media and its importance and what they do and how outstanding they are, but —
RUSH: Right. Michael Kelly and David Bloom. Michael Kelly, a columnist Washington Post, David Bloom, NBC reporter.
CALLER: Yes, sir, and that’s not to minimize them at all. It’s just to echo what you’ve always told us about the media believing themselves as the moral barometer of the country.
RUSH: No, it’s not that. Yes, it’s that, but… How to express this? They think that they are as important as the presidency. They think they are as important —
CALLER: (cell drops)
RUSH: We just lost him again. Take the phone line down. They think that they’re as important as any other constitutional institution, and when one of them dies, ‘Why, it’s a shock to democracy! It’s a shock to the nation! Can the nation survive without X Reporter? Can the nation go on? Can we in the media go on?’ Some of you might find this a little gruesome. But I checked in on this coverage over the weekend, particularly on NBC, and I understand they loved Russert. We all did. But this, as I say, ceased being about Russert by five o’clock Friday afternoon, and it had transformed fully into an orgy of how important we are. And how at risk we are, how our era may be over. They’re scared. They were presiding at their own wake, whether they knew it or not, not Russert’s.
I wouldn’t have been surprised if they were looking around at a picture to find Luke Russert at age three playing around his father’s desk because I think they equated this with JFK, state funerals, big-time wakes and so forth and so on. It was just unseemly. It was so obviously about them and how important they are. I actually felt sorry for Tim Russert’s family, to have to watch this disguised as tributes. I heard some of the most inane things. For example, somebody whose name I don’t mention much on this program because he’s clearly insane is Keith Olbermann. But he’s become the face of NBC News, and that alone should tell you where NBC is headed. But he was the face of this coverage. And he had Brokaw on, a couple other reporters. I’m going to have to paraphrase this. He honestly said, ‘Did Tim have what we’re all striving for here,’ Tom, or whoever he was talking to, ‘that precious commodity of objectivity? Is it something we can ever attain ourselves? Can we possibly get to that level as Tim Russert was? Is that not something we should be asking ourselves?’
Objectivity? Just do it! Don’t sit there and ask yourselves if you can. For crying out loud, how stupid do you think the audience is? This was not about the audience. They were talking to each other. They didn’t care if there was an audience. This was the most narcissistic, self-introspective spectacle I have ever seen, around the occasion of the death of somebody who was truly very good at what he did. ‘Can we ever…?’ That’s no different that were asking, ‘You know, Tim, he ate breakfast really well. Do you think we could learn from his example?’ Just do it! If you’re eating the wrong kind of food switch and eat the right kind of food! ‘Did Tim have a lock on this notion of objectivity? Isn’t that what we’re all striving for in this business, what Tim had?’ No, you’re not striving for it! (laughs) This was patently absurd. Then they had Matthews come on. Matthews is on vacation. Listen to this. You talk about making it about them! In fact, I predicted to some friends, ‘Before long, before long…’ On Friday afternoon, I predicted to Levin and a couple others, I said, ‘This Russert death is going to be blamed on Bush for creating all kinds of stress among journalists over the Iraq war.’
MATTHEWS: When we went to war with Iraq, he and I had a little discussion about that. And this is where he is everyman. This is where Tim is Mr. or Miss America, Mrs. America. He is us, as a country. I said, ‘How can you believe this war is justified?’ and he said, ‘The nuclear thing. If they have a bomb that they can use, we gotta deal with it. We can’t walk away from that,’ and that, to me, was the essence of what was wrong with the whole case of the war, that they knew the argument that would sell with Mr. America, with the regular guy, with the true American patriot. They used the argument that would sell, that would get us into that war. Tim was right on the nail. He was us, the American people. And that, to me, is just something that’s been coming in my head the last couple hours, when Tim and I had that conversation, that that was the thing that sold America. And the guys who wanted the war used that one thing that would sell the patriot in Tim Russert.
RUSH: Do you hear what has just been said? Russert has been dead less than six hours, and Matthews is on TV blaming Bush for fooling Russert, the great patriot. Lying to the great patriot, Russert, and that’s what got us into the war. So he blamed Russert! He blamed Russert essentially for the Iraq war when there… (interruption) What? Well, Bush and Russert, Russert for being fooled by it, and Bush for lying to him about it.