When Tim Russert died, many journalists had many good things to say about the Meet the Press host. Russert did his homework. He asked tough but fair questions. He was a decent man, a family man, who never lost sight of the important things. He had a zest for life.
But in all the praise for Russert’s virtues, was something being overlooked?
Former CBS journalist Bernard Goldberg thinks so. When Goldberg’s book Bias, a critical examination of the media, was published in 2001, only one person on the network news shows would touch it with a ten-foot pole — even though the book was a bestseller and many Americans obviously thought the topic important.
The exception was Tim Russert, who spent an hour interviewing Goldberg on CNBC. Russert declared that “if there’s a liberal bias or a cultural bias [in the newsroom], we have to sit up and tackle it and discuss it. We have got to be open to these things.”
Peggy Noonan, the former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush, now writes commentary for the Wall Street Journal. There, she agreed with Goldberg: Russert was eager to give non-liberal points of view a hearing when other broadcast journalists turned a deaf ear.
Wouldn’t it be a good thing, Noonan reflects, if many of the journalists generically praising Russert for his open-mindedness and fairness paid more attention to the implications of their own words?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.