Tim Russert's Campaign Sidetrip To Cincinnati
When Tim Russert agreed six months ago to speak at the Plum Street Temple fundraiser tonight, he figured it would be a quick trip to Cincinnati and back to NBC's Washington bureau. But it turns out tonight's speech conveniently fit into his travels. Tomorrow he's headed to Indiana to cover the primary Tuesday. His guest Sunday on "Meet The Press" will be Barack Obama.
Russert was very insightful, as expected, and funny (telling a couple Yogi Berra stories, and wonderful stories about his father.)
But he was not opinionated.
That surprised me. I figured he might offer a personal take on Hillary Clinton, Obama or McCain. But he didn't. Actually, he made a very persuasive argument on why he remains an objective reporter (unlike many cable news hosts who align themselves with a party or candidate), and why "Meet The Press" continues to have an important role in American political discourse in our talk radio, 24/7 cable news and Internet culture.
"Unlike talk radio, I don't offer an opinion. My job is to elicit opinions, so the public can make up its mind," he says. His Sunday TV show is one of the few places to see a one-hour interview with an objective journalist. He studies the candidates and issues, and then politely asks probing questions. It's a good way to measure a leader. "You cannot make tough decisions, if you can't answer tough questions."
Russert, by the way, implored Ohio voters to do their homework: "You are a swing state. Ohio is a pivotal state. It's essential you get to know the candidates. Immerse yourself in their stance on the issues. Who do you trust? Who could be the best agent for change?"
I can't say I was a regular Russert viewer before tonight, but he really impressed me. And I felt a kinship to him, a son of a hard-working blue-collar guy (from Buffalo). I'll definitely watch his Obama interview Sunday... and make a point to watch his analysis on the "NBC Evening News," "Today" show and election nights.
Are you a Russert fan? Who's your favorite election analyst and why?