Now we will be treated to the funereal tones of the press establishment, spending its own air-time to laud and lament the life and passing of Tim Russert. Much like the nationally televised funeral of ‘Kay’ Graham, doyenne of the Washington press and former mistress of the Washington Post, this will be of no meaning to anyone outside the press establishment — and it will confirm to anyone outside that establishment the egomania that will shamelessly display itself when it’s for one of their own.

Tim Russert? The same man who consistently gave one pass after another to politicians who trumpeted things blatantly false, favoring instead to trip them up on past ‘contradictions’, conflicting soundbytes? Witness all the press clippings and news reports invoking language that might have been appropriate once for a past journalist: “relentless”, “penetrating”, etc. etc.

In fact, the toughest questioning Russert did in recent memory was of Morgan Spurlock, unimportant filmmaker and producer of ‘Super Size Me’. Russert managed to summon up more disbelief and more contempt for the poor fellow whose provocative idea was that ‘fast food is bad for you’ than for, to name but one example, Vice President Dick Cheney and his claim that Americans would be greeted in Iraq as ‘liberators’.

When ‘hard’ questioning has to be relegated to Comedy Central, where it can then be viewed as a kind of aberration, three cheers for the press establishment, so thoroughly compromised — as Russert was — by people moving back and forth over the line between journalism and politics that everyone overlooks each other’s failings and in unison all lower their standards.

RIP, Tim Russert.

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