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At the Fredericksburg Forum, 'Meet the Press' host Tim Russert will talk about the ways journalism is changing in America--and the ways it must stay the same
Tim Russert tapes NBC's 'Meet the Press' in Washington. He's hosted the highly rated Sunday morning talk show since 1991. At 59 years, it's the longest-running program on TV.
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By MICHAEL ZITZ
Tim Russert believes in us.
Like a doting father, he sees the good in an American public others might regard as neglecting its homework to watch trash TV and refusing to eat its vegetables while reaching for another piece of pie.
During a telephone interview with The Free Lance-Star, the moderator of "Meet the Press" insisted that Americans continue to be interested in serious stuff, important stuff, heavy stuff--the stuff that will impact our futures and the course of history itself.
He's convinced that we truly care about plot twists and turns in the Middle East, that we have the focus necessary to follow the long midterm election campaign, and that we really do want to know who's likely to be running for president two years from now.
Russert, who will appear at the Fredericksburg Forum on Wednesday night at the University of Mary Washington, believes this in his heart and soul, even though the proliferation of "infotainment" items on news shows might seem to indicate otherwise.
Sensational crimes involving JonBenet Ramsey and Debra LaFave and Natalee Holloway--and even Britney Spears' latest baby bumble--often push dry topics like war and famine off most TV screens.
And some contend that CBS has kicked its tradition of hard journalism to the curb, putting former "Today" show host Katie Couric in charge of its iconic evening news show and shifting gears to a softer, magazine-style approach.
But Russert can make a convincing argument that there still is a public appetite for serious discussion of the issues by pointing to the undeniable success of his own show, "Meet the Press." It's been on NBC for 59 years and shows no sign of running out of steam. And since Russert took the helm in 1991, it's become the most-watched Sunday-morning interview program, with approximately 4 million viewers.
"Meet the Press" hasn't been tainted by the circus-like atmosphere of some other news programs and the stridency of Internet blogs, nor has it tilted to the left or right following a trend that's seeing people choose news sources based on bias.
Russert wouldn't be comfortable with any of that.