Tough

First, any man who at any point in his life wore a fu-man-chu mustache, you just gotta like.

Also, below are some excerpts from an interview former CBS News correspondent Bernie Goldberg did with Tim Russert for Goldberg’s 2003 book, Arrogance: Rescuing America from the Media Elite. Read through these excerpts and tell me if you can picture any current journalist from any network uttering these words. I sure can’t. We’re definitely gonna miss Tim.

GOLDBERG: I think a lot of people have seen a fairness in you that they’re not used to seeing on the networks, and I’m wondering how much you think your blue-collar background has to do with it.

RUSSERT: There’s no substitute for it, Bernie, believe me. I’ve worked on garbage trucks. I drove a taxi. I tended bar. I delivered pizzas. I worked with liberals, conservatives, blacks, whites; that’s how you grew up in this interesting world, and people were always simply judged in the end on their quality as a person: Did they tell the truth? Did they honor their commitments? Did they show up for work on time?

* * *

And I also believe that going to the schools I did—St. Bonaventure school, Canisius High School, John Carroll University—these are not fashionable, elitist schools. These are schools where you learn to read and write and learn right from wrong. But they would never wave a wand and say, this is the way you must think.

The key to it was always respecting another person’s view and never suggesting that anyone had a monopoly on correctness. And that should be the centerpiece to being a journalist. You don’t go out there bringing to your profession an attitude that you know what is right for the country or you know what view is the progressive one or the appropriate one to have.

* * *

It’s just central to a journalist that we not adopt a code of correctness that this is the preferred position on the issue.

* * *

There is no preferred position. One cannot be dismissive of one person as extreme and find another acceptable just because of how you define liberal, conservative or mainstream.

* * *

It really is fascinating to me when you talk to political figures and to some journalists, they’ll say the center is here—if you are for abortion rights, for gun control, for campaign finance reform, that’s a mainstream position; and those opposed to it are on the fringe. And that’s just not the way reporters should approach issues.

* * *

Whenever we were going through the whole situation with President Clinton on a variety of issues involving his veracity, I would say in the newsroom: What if President Nixon had said this? And people would sit up [because they hadn’t thought of it that way]. You have to apply a single standard.

GOLDBERG: And to those who say journalists shouldn’t wear red, white and blue ribbons, that by doing that somehow you’re taking the government’s side in some debate or another — which I don’t frankly see, by the way . . .

RUSSERT: It is imperative that we never suggest that there’s a moral equivalency between the United States of America and the terrorists. Period. I’ll believe that until the day I die. I have talked about being a journalist—but also being an American. And first and foremost, you’re an American. I want a debate about national security, and who defines national security. I understand all that. But in the end, you have to make judgements, and on that day I made a judgement that five days after the most horrific event of my lifetime and of my journalistic career, that for me to say to the country I too am part of this, I too have experienced this gut-wrenching pain and agony, and I too have enormous remorse and sympathy, with not only the people who died in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in the field in Pennsylvania, but all of us—we’re in this together; this isn’t covering Democrats and Republicans or the Bills versus the Redskins; this is us. The Taliban doesn’t believe in the First Amendment.

I’m an American and then I’m a journalist.

(emphasis added).

Thx to NewsBusters and Tim Russert

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