Russert Becomes Invisible to Himself

The elephant is still in the room

Since when does Tim Russert (or anyone like him) decline an opportunity to talk about himself?

It happened this morning while Russert was offering his campaign-related wisdom to Today viewers on NBC, during this exchange with Matt Lauer (emphasis ours):

LAUER: NBC’s Tim Russert is here. Set the stage for us, Tim. Who has the most to lose here in New Hampshire?

RUSSERT: Two people. Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney.

LAUER: And what happens if they don’t win this primary?

RUSSERT: Matt, Hillary Clinton now has to go on to Nevada. Tomorrow the Culinary Workers Union is set to endorse Barack Obama which is pretty much tantamount to winning the caucus…Then it’s on to South Carolina. Half the voters there are African-American. A very uphill struggle. Then she tries to go on to February 5. The difficulty is a candidate doesn’t decide the state of his or her campaign. Supporters do. Donors do…

And who else? Who else “decides the state” of the candidates’ campaigns by, you know, “setting the stage” for millions of network morning show viewers? Credit where credit is due!

We at Campaign Desk moaned a lot back in 2004 about the way that some in the campaign press, when analyzing/speculating/pontificating about some aspect of the presidential race, seemed to become invisible to themselves, failed to acknowledge their own impact on the very thing on which they are reporting (a handy way to avoid accountability).

Four years later and the elephant is still in the room - something we expect we’ll be reminded of frequently in the coming hours, days, and months.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.