by Trapper John
Kant's diary over at dKos on How Tim Russert Became Rove's Bitch is fascinating. I'm as interested as anyone in how a guy who worked for Mario Cuomo just 25 years ago could end up parroting GOP talking points with seemingly no compunctions about his complicity in the royal scam. But I think Kant's diary is slightly off. Russert isn't a shill for Bush. Russert is a slave to power and the Establishment. His only real god is respectibility.
Russert isn't alone. In fact, he's right in line with the rest of the much-derided MSM. Russert, like the rest of his caste, is merely following the parade down Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown.
The reason that the bogeyman called "The Liberal Media" exists is because for many years, the media was vaguely left-leaning -- just like Establishment Washington. When Democrats controlled Congress and the White House for the 40's and the bulk of the 60's, Establishment Washington was a pretty liberal place. And so was the Washington Press Corps, which attended the parties that feted JFK's Best and the Brightest. But beginning with the Reagan Revolution, the character of Establishment Washington began to change. More and more of the lobbyists were Republicans. It was OK to openly display avarice. Texan Yalies began to displace the New York Yalies. And sure enough, the Washington press corps began to accept the values of Washington's new masters.
They bristled when Bill Clinton showed up in town fresh from Little Rock. "He came in here and he trashed the place, and it's not his place," said David Broder -- the Establishment's Establishmentarian -- to Sally Quinn (who's even more Establishment than Broder). And Broder was right. It wasn't Clinton's place, at least not anymore. It wasn't a place of strivers, and it wasn't even a place of well-bred liberal intellectuals like Galbraith and Sorensen. It was a place ruled by an unholy alliance of Big Money and cheap grifters from the sticks like Tom DeLay. Which is why George W. Bush was like manna from heaven for the Washington Press Corps. He was a Texas grifter with a Big Money pedigree. He was, in short, the New Establishment. And Tim Russert loved him for it
Tim Russert came of age during the tail end of the Great Society, and he naturally believed in it. But as the Great Society gave way to the Gated Society, he effortlessly followed suit. It's just his nature. Forty years ago, he'd have crucified Goldwater and the GOP's conservative insurgents, all the while backslapping Robert McNamara and McGeorge Bundy. He'd have laughed at the punk beatnik kids protesting the war. He'd have been bipartisan -- he'd have gotten along swell with both LBJ and Rocky, and he'd have unbridled contempt for both crazy Gene McCarthy and that B-movie hack Reagan.
Ten years from now, Russert will lob softballs at Democratic nominee Obama as he campaigns to succeed President Gore. He'll mercilessly grill the GOP nominee on his opposition, in 2009, to Gore's wildly successful Medicare For All plan. He'll viciously attack anyone who questions Gore's peace plan in the Middle East, and he'll sneer at Grover Norquist and his loony anti-tax followers
Tim Russert is as protean as the streets of DC themselves. He will always change to fit the times. He will always be respectable.