Saturday, 14 June 2008


While reading the eulogies for Russert, who by all accounts was a likeable sort of guy, and a Buffalo Bills fan, it is important to remember that he was perhaps the first of the political 'insiders' to move into a media analysis role, and all the way to celebrity status. Unlike, say, Cokie Roberts, he wasn't a hereditary member of the Beltway mob, but he opened doors for more staffers to move into punditry. It was no coinicidence that George Stephanopolous was, like Russert, at the center of punditry controvery during the debates. Criticisms of the questioning during this year's primary campaigns usually concentrate on party-partisanship, but beg the question of the bigger partisanship, which is the view from inside the Beltway, and the disconnect between there and the rest of America. It's hard to see what's really going on when you're in your Georgetown townhouse and moving for the summer to Nantucket alongside Jack Welch.

Instead, the insiders go on television and radio and use sex and gender and race to pander to their audience and set an agenda designed to serve as a red flag to a bull. It's the electorate that suffers.

In Britain, we're still in the stage of journalists doing political TV, sort of where the US was in the 50s and 60s, but because journalism has been an hereditary insider profession in this country for so long, there's actually more movement from journalism (or TV production) TO politics here.

Though British media does seem to regard it as their duty to provide a living for certain politicians after the voters reject them --such as Portillo (and his emanuensis, Gove) and Oona. Perhaps it's an Oxbridge thing?

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