Meet Tim Russert
by Jamison Foser
"It's never the question that's the problem, Matt, it's the answer."
-- NBC's Tim Russert
"It's 'never the question that's the problem'? Really?
Spoken like the guy who gets to ask the questions."
-- CJR's Liz Cox Barrett
During this week's Democratic presidential debate, Russert didn't ask a single question about global warming, continuing his longstanding habit of all but ignoring the topic. He didn't ask a single question about the mortgage crisis. (As one Cleveland resident noted, "We've got the mortgage industry's toxic waste scattered all over this city, but Mr. Blue-Collar-Buffalo-and-Cleveland-Marshall-Guy Russert couldn't be bothered with a question about it.") He didn't ask a single question about executive power, the Constitution, torture, wiretapping, or other civil-liberties concerns. But that shouldn't come as a surprise; of all the questions he has asked while moderating presidential debates during this campaign, only one has dealt with any of those topics.
This wasn't the first time Russert made the odd decision to ask Obama about controversial comments made by a famous African-American. During a 2006 interview, Russert asked Obama about controversial comments Harry Belafonte made the day before. But Belafonte, as Jane Hamsher noted at the time, had made similar comments two weeks before, and Russert had never asked any guest about them. Russert gave no indication of why Obama was uniquely qualified or required to comment on Belafonte's comments. (The only other time Russert has ever asked anyone about any comments made by Harry Belafonte, according to Nexis? 2003, when Russert asked then-Secretary of State Colin Powell about comments Belafonte made about U.S. actions toward Cuba.)
Given Russert's badgering of Obama about Farrakhan, you might be wondering how he handles endorsements by controversial figures who have a history of statements that are widely considered to be anti-Semitic ... when the endorser and the endorsed are both white Republicans.
What stuck out to me in that part of the debate is that Hillary wasn't asked about rejecting the endorsement of mAnn Coulter. I'm also waiting on her rejection of Jenna Jameson's endorsement. If Tim wants to pose these "Gotcha!" type of questions, why wasn't Hillary leveled the same treatment?
Some hateful, radical ministers -- white evangelicals -- are acceptable
by Glenn Greenwald
One of this week's hysterical press scandals was that Minister Louis Farrakhan praised Barack Obama's candidacy even though Obama had previously denounced numerous Farrakhan remarks and the Obama campaign did nothing to seek out the Farrakhan praise. Nonetheless, Tim Russert demanded that Obama jump through multiple hoops to prove that he has no connection to -- and, in fact, "rejects" -- the ideas espoused by Farrakhan deemed to be radical and hateful.
Yesterday, though, the equally fringe, radical and hateful (at least) Rev. John Hagee -- a white evangelical who is the pastor of a sprawling "mega-church" in Texas -- enthusiastically endorsed John McCain. Did McCain have to jump through the same hoops which Russert and others set up for Obama and "denounce" Hagee's extremism and "reject" his support? No; quite the opposite. McCain said he was "very honored" to receive this endorsement and, when asked about some of Hagee's more twisted views, responded: "all I can tell you is that I am very proud to have Pastor John Hagee's support."
McCain's sainted supporter, Joe Lieberman, last year spoke to Hagee's group and lavished him with such obsequious praise that Lieberman actually compared Hagee, favorably, to Moses. Why is Louis Farrakhan deemed by our political establishment to be so radioactive as to not be fit for good company -- black candidates are required to repudiate his support even when they haven't sought it and denounce his views even when they've never advocated anything close to those views -- but John Hagee is a perfectly acceptable figure whom mainstream GOP politicians are free to court without any consequences or media objections?
Where's the uproar for this? White Republican welcomes the endorsement of hate-mongering, crazed churchfolk, Obama caved into the bullying of Russert and Billary over semantics and tosses Farrakhan and his endorsement under the bus and people still aren't satisfied--- WTF?!
And as SheCodes noted, there seems to be an acceptable disregard for Muslims and I'm not feeling that. A lot of my childhood friends are Muslim and they and their parents were very good to me. Simply put --- I don't hate them. Consistency counts when unity is the backdrop to your campaign.