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John Kiesewetter on the world of local and national TV

Senior Entertainment Reporter John Kiesewetter has been covering TV and media issues for 20 years. After joining the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1975 as a summer intern, he worked as a county government and suburban reporter; assistant city editor and suburban editor; and features editor supervising the Life section. He has a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

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?


at 5/02/2008 9:37 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Russert and most of the time I can watch political TV, but right now the whole scene is such a mess that after Sunday Morning is over, off goes the TV.

I actually went to church last Sunday rather than endure another hour of "well, they said that I said that he said, but I never really said that, what I actually said was that she said all that."

I am a victim of McClintobama overload...make it stop, please make it stop....

John in Hebron
Yes, we have TV in Hebron

at 5/02/2008 11:19 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tim is awesome. Unlike many on national TV, he comes across as very humble, and most certainly neutral.

I've seen a couple of interviews with him before (in which HE is the one being interviewed). Very cool stuff, especially his recollections of Woodstock (anyone else see this interview? I can't remember where I saw it. Maybe an NBC News special of some kind?)

Anyway - Russert is very refreshing compared to the common crop of journalistic "infotainment" that's so prevalent these days.

at 5/05/2008 6:56 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

We you not the ones that when Hill's hubby, Billy aka "Bubba" was our Commander-In-Chief, you dubbed Timmy's network, MSNBC..Massive Saturation Nothing But Clinton?

Well, now MSNBC is nothing but full of long diabtribes "trashing" Fox News..more like Massive Saturation, Nothing But Criticism of Clinton, Hillary, that is...

If you would have really did your homework you would have informed us that Timmy John Russert, Jr., received lots of his higher education in Ohio...NE Ohio, to be exact.

With advanced degrees from John Carroll University, in the burbs of Cleveland, OHio..I do believe that they "locals": call it University Heights, Ohio, as well as another, in law, aka jurisprudence, from THE BEST LOCATION IN TEH NATION, Cleveland, Ohio, at Marshall College of Law, at Cleveland, Ohio, State University.

However, you were dead on on his "objective" reporting.

He sort of "abuses" this privilege when he goes on NBC on those morning talk shows and espouses to us all, "What this means, should mean, or could mean."

Then, of course, we have wall to wall coverage on the cable channels on every single election, about a special, then the vote, and then a special to tell us all what the special means, and of course then a special to tell us all what the special meant, the follow up special meant, and not what this really means to us all.

Ever notice how every election is "crucial" and/ or "this one is going to be the deciding factor?"

Hellloo,,, who writes up this drivel?

at 5/05/2008 10:36 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm... After reading your post, I was going to ask the same question.

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