Friday, June 13, 2008

An Overdose of Grief

Far be it for me to minimize the shock and suffering of the Russert family but aren't the cable and broadcast TV stations going too far with their hours long eulogizing of Tim Russert?

Apparently no other news of interest is occurring anywhere in the US or the world. RIP Tim Russert, a brief tribute to his life's work in order, and move on to covering other happenings such as the flooding in Iowa, or the impact of the Habeas Corpus decision by the US Supreme court, or the Irish rejection of the EU treaty, or the fuel tankers strike spreading across the world from Spain to UK to South Korea.

Instead we get teary eyed non-stop tributes from Keith Olbermann, Pat Buchanan, Wolf Blitzer, Barbara Walters, Peggy Noonan, Andrea Mitchell that have been going on for a full 4 hours. We get it- it was a shocking and unexpected demise. But does it warrant the sort of all-exclusive coverage of this kind?

It takes me back to the constant focus on Indira Gandhi as she lay in state in 1984 after her untimely death by assassination. All the TV showed was the endless line of people filing by, interspersed with fixed slides backed with mournful sitar twangs, followed by endless scenes of the grieving family at the funeral pyre. The only exception was that some head honcho at Doordarshan, the state-run TV channel, decided that broadcasting the 1945 B&W version of 'Meera', with M.S. Subbulakshmi in the singing and acting lead, was appropriate telecasting in such a mournful time - a breath of fresh air for me and my mom, since we loved the songs from the movie, ancient as they were).

So now, it's all Russert all the time, to the point of wishing that we had also departed with him in order to avoid this deathly dull programming. There have been clippings of Russert at balls, at conferences, at meetings, at diners, on his Meet the Press interviewing the celebrities and politicos du jour, with the Pope, everything but Russert tying his shoelaces at his son's baseball practice.

Mercifully, this ought to end by tonight. Tomorrow we will be back to the usual program and doses of Brangelina, Baby Mama, how-to-improve-gas-mileage, how-to-go-green-by-buying-new-appliances, salmonella tomatoes, floods in the Midwest, the capture for the zillionth time of Al Qaeda's no. 2 Man in Iraq/Afghanistan...

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