Russert, Then and Now

I came across this statement by Meet the Press‘s Tim Russert, from a December 1997 appearance he made on CSPAN’s Booknotes. Here’s Russert talking about when he started at MTP in 1991:

The first call I made when I became moderator [was to Lawrence Spivak, the founder of Meet the Press]. He invited me to lunch. I said, “What’s the mission of Meet the Press? What do you do each and every Sunday? He said, “That’s simple. You learn everything you can about your guest and his or her positions, and take the other side. If you do that each and every Sunday, you’ll demonstrate the requisite objectivity and balance and deference of guests, and no one will complain, and you’ll have a long and illustrious career.

Think of Russert over the last five years, and Russert’s work leading up to, during, and after the 2000 Campaign. Did he forget his mission? (For a Russert refresher, you know what to do, just click here).

Note that this post isn’t directed at Tim Russert’s war-time show. I certainly don’t suggest or endorse Russert having Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace on the show and then “taking the other side”.

But when the war is over and Campaign 2004 looms large, let’s hope Russert remembers that his mission includes research, skepticism towards both those in power and those seeking power, and that the mission extends well beyond talking about blow jobs when there is an election in progress. (Yes, this is an exaggeration, but you get the point).