The Tim Russert “Miracles”

Christopher Hitchens quickly dispenses with those annoying remarks about “miracles” happening during the coverage of Tim Russert‘s death: John McCain and Barack Obama sitting next to each other, Bruce Springsteen playing a song in memory of Russert, and the freakin’ rainbow that appeared after the funeral.

… I think this media myth-making, however tongue-in-cheek some of it may be, helps our understanding of why people are theists. After all, just remember why we mourners of that day were gathered in the first place. One of our friends and colleagues had been struck stone dead by his coronary arteries, in the prime of life, at just the moment when he had been celebrating his son’s graduation. He had had everything to look forward to. For my part, I was distressed by all this, and sorry about it, which is why I donned a tie and went along to bow my head. But now I read that, because of room-temperature political politeness and the vagaries of the weather, I was supposed to have been grateful for the bereavement? What if it hadn’t been an election year? What if the network couldn’t have contacted a rock star? What if the sky had been merely sunny or had filled with lightning?

Then the media would’ve found something else to promote to super-symbolism.

As they always do.

Isn’t Russert’s legacy enough? Why try to supplement it with “miracles” that were really just a combination of coincidence and personal requests?


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • Kai

    I was in NYC for my freshman year of college during the first anniversary of September 11th. The local news coverage was REVOLTING. It was a particularly windy day, and I distinctly recall a reporter commenting, along with a shot of the wind stirring up some dust at ground zero, that it “felt like the spirits of the victims were stirring” and they were “certainly all around us” and all that nonsense.

    I’m sure it was a real comfort to the victim’s families to think that their loved ones were stuck – en masse! – “haunting” the site where they died. Except, you know, not.

  • Jonathan

    You ask “Isn’t Russert’s legacy enough?” It probably would be. His life was one as a devout Catholic, which he did not hide in public or private life.

  • Langston

    This is strange because I witnessed a double rainbow of the same sort on that same day in Newark, New Jersey. I think there may be something here.

  • stogoe

    Russert’s legacy – frankly, I feel he was part of the problem, a willing cog in a media where navel gazing and mindless he-said she-said gruel are celebrated as Michelin Star quality fare.

    It sucks that he died so suddenly, and that his family is without him. Of course. But I’m not willing to give myself over to hagiography just because he’s dead.

  • Lysander

    My wife and I have watched Meet the Press for years (we’re 26 and 28, respectively, so perhaps younger that one might expect) and were quite devastated to hear the news. As a moderator he grilled his guests in a way such that no matter what opinions you hold you would would still see it as fair. He was honest and after the truth, and that’s why he was so widely respected. I suspect that Stogoe had seen and new little of Russert (before his death), so s/he wouldn’t know that he was unlike the majority in news media (Jim Lehrer and Ted Koppel being examples of exceptions). You wouldn’t see him dramatize or inject artificial emotion into the topic. Sure, we would occasionally see him at the end of the program pull for his hometown Bills and Sabres and reference religion, but his viewers are the kind of people who respect his beliefs as much as he would theirs. Even as Cheeseheads (sorry, Hemant :) ) and Blueshirt fans and atheists my wife and I never took offense to his remarks, but then again why should we have?

  • stogoe

    I am aware of the Conventional Wisdom regarding Russert’s ‘fairness’. He was your standard Beltway Elite, faux-principled he-said she-said moderate bullshit spewer. Part of the problem. Anything that came out of Russert’s mouth, you could be sure it came straight from his paymasters. Party line, uninquisitive gruel.