Thursday, November 19, 2009

Newseum creates shrine to Tim Russert

Washington, D.C.'s Newseum has opened an exhibit that contains an exact replica of the late Tim Russert's office at NBC.

The NBC Washington bureau chief and legendary moderator of Meet the Press died in June 2008 of a heart attack at age 58.

The office has been recreated to look as it did on the day he died, complete with family photos, favorite books and Buffalo Bills pennants. It will be on display through 2010.

The exhibit also features Russert's desk piled high with newspapers and research binders and a wooden sign for his staff that reads "Thou Shalt Not Whine."
Thou Shalt Not Whine. That's so awesome.

I wonder if this shrine to Russert, that icon of whine-free journalistic fortitude, contains any symbols of his actual approach to the craft. For example, his default position when talking to high government officials:

My personal policy is always off the record when talking to government officials unless specified.
Great stuff, especially if you're a government official trying to influence the media narrative without leaving any fingerprints. Good ol' Tim Russert was happy to help out by keeping all conversations off the record unless you gave him permission to quote you. Now, that's some hard-hitting journalism.

So is this:

This delicious morsel about the "Meet the Press" host and the vice president was part of the extensive dish Cathie Martin served up yesterday when the former Cheney communications director took the stand in the perjury trial of former Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Flashed on the courtroom computer screens were her notes from 2004 about how Cheney could respond to allegations that the Bush administration had played fast and loose with evidence of Iraq's nuclear ambitions. Option 1: "MTP-VP," she wrote, then listed the pros and cons of a vice presidential appearance on the Sunday show. Under "pro," she wrote: "control message."

"I suggested we put the vice president on 'Meet the Press,' which was a tactic we often used," Martin testified. "It's our best format."
The Newseum exhibit should definitely include a playback loop of all of Cheney's MTP appearances before, during, and after the invasion of Iraq. Only then will visitors get an accurate picture of Tim Russert, whom the Bush administration considered its most reliable media stooge.