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John Eskow

John Eskow

Posted: May 7, 2008 05:56 PM

Tuesday's Biggest Loser: Tim Russert (And All The Other TV Blowhards)


"Liberty is connected with prose, and bureaucrats who want to destroy liberty tend to write and speak badly." -George Orwell

George Orwell: meet Tim Russert.

And all his blowhard kin.

Tuesday's biggest winner was not Barack Obama -- though it's impossible to overstate just how stunning his victory was, scoring a 200,000+ vote margin in the wake of 24/7 media demonization -- but the American voting public itself. And Tuesday's biggest loser was not Hillary Clinton but her media surrogates, like Little Georgie Stephanopolous and Tiny Tim Russert.

I don't know where Georgie was drowning his sorrows Tuesday night, but Russert was front and center on MSNBC, doing his best to take it like a man -- which must've been incredibly hard. For weeks, the Russerts of this world fought desperately to force a narrative onto the American public that they explosively rejected Tuesday night. Forget the shady metrics, forget the endless parsing of artificially-split voting blocs (I just heard Hillary Clinton answer a question about her lack of black support by countering that she had great support among "working people" -- as if those were two separate groups.) That's all played out now. Sure, the comments appended to Huffington Post columns will be full of it, and that's fine too. And sure, we'll hear all the Obama-can't-win-because-older-left-handed-female-gunowners-who-own-more-than-two-snowmobiles will never vote for him -- and that's fine too, it's a democracy, and they're free to vote for anyone they choose.

And -- superficially -- Russert and Stephanopolous and their colleagues at CNN will stagger into the new dawn as well. But they blew it badly this time. Russert's 18-minute filibuster on Reverend Wright -- pinning Obama down under ludicrous question after ludicrous question at a time when US and Iraqi deaths are mounting, Haitian children are dying of starvation in the streets, you can write in your own global crisis -- was as naked a display of corporate media's hideously-misplaced priorities as I have ever seen. To watch a dignified man try to politely move on to substantive matters -- after he'd already given two entire speeches devoted to such a laughably spurious issue -- was to watch Stupidity bullying Common Decency...for eighteen endless minutes.

When you put that kind of backbreaking work into changing the narrative of American history -- as Russert and the others did -- you expect to see results from it.

So it was hard not to laugh at Russert's stunned face all night, as voters in America basically told him and the others to shove a flag lapel-pin up their ass -- not to put too fine a point on it -- and he and the others of his ilk (as well as the Mark Penns and Howard Wolfsons who puppet-mastered them so hard) were left with cosmic egg on their faces. They can be forgiven for underestimating the rebel spirit of the American voter -- many of us did -- but they will not be forgiven for their collusion in shamefully pandering to our lowest un-common denominator by race-baiting, topic-shifting, and McCarthyist guilt-by-association.

So, to paraphrase E.M. Forster, 2.5 cheers for the American voter this morning. If "TV Expert" was an elective office, they'd all be out on the street today, loading their dictaphones, glazed doughnuts, and overstuffed chairs into giant moving vans.

Pack it up, guys. Your bluff has been called in front of the world.