Last Friday I was in Las Vegas for a couple of long needed days of R&R. Fun in the sun was interrupted by a text message from a friend telling me that Tim Russert had died.
I thought to myself, "I wonder if MSNBC will have any news on Mr. Russert's untimely passing?"
Boy, did they!
Slouching into the freshly made hotel bed, I proceeded to watch hour after hour of Russert coverage Keith Olbermann anchor chops were demonstrated during the live coverage of the tragic news. Hour after hour went by without commercial interruption. It was quite remarkable.
The remembrances, sadness and condolences shared by friends, colleagues, competitors and political leaders were not only moving, but also impressive. Tim Russert appears to have been a man who loved life, friends and politics. He was undoubtedly generous as a boss, colleague, son, father, husband and godparent. My friends and I, many a few pounds beyond our fighting weight, have been shaken by the fragility of life.
The round-the-clock coverage of Tim Russert's death should remind cable news that the audience is capable of watching stories longer than 30-seconds. I go nuts when important political speeches or news analysis is interrupted to repeat the same sound bites over and over again. I could be wrong, but I didn't see any other news on MSNBC until two days after Russert's death. Even Lock-up San Quentin, The Bloopers was preempted!
MSNBC's coverage of Tim Russert's death does however leave me with a nagging question. If days of coverage can be dedicated to nothing but the death of a television figure how can I trust the editorial judgment of the news division? What stories are they not covering on a daily basis? Which issues are not being discussed? Why does 24-hour news insist on repeating such superficial coverage of so few stories?
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