At some point NBC, MSNBC, CNN, and the other news networks will return to the daily work of telling America what they think it needs to know about the big wide world, after their three-day pause to remember their fallen compatriot Tim Russert.
I have no specific opinions about Russert. The entire Sunday morning format leaves me cold; it’s a rotten way to inform an electorate. The Cathie Martin memo that stated that Meet the Press was the “best format” for Dick Cheney to “control the message” is a clear sign that Washington journalism is corrupt at its core, as gorged on status and power as the people it is supposed to be holding responsible to the people. But as for Mr. Russert himself, he neither wowed me nor offended me.
He leaves a bereaved and bewildered family, as do all who die young and suddenly. He leaves dear friends and colleagues who will be diminished by his absence. So in a way I’m not surprised at the outpouring in the television media of remembrance, reflection, and celebration of his life. He certainly seems to have earned it.
But on Thursday in Iraq, a U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb.
On Wednesday in Iraq, two U.S. servicemen were killed in separate incidents.
And in the five years of this war, 4,098 American troops have been killed in Iraq, along with nearly 500 in Afghanistan, dozens of U.S. citizen contract personnel, and hundreds of thousands of the people we have supposedly been liberating.
Each of these deaths brings the same grief, sadness, anger, bewilderment, fear, and loss that Mr. Russert’s did. What if television were to devote the same time to Pfc. Thomas F. Duncan III, of Rowlett, TX, who was killed in combat on June 9, and to the ones who died on June 8, and on June 7?
Gentlemen, we know you lost a friend and a colleague. Death is tragic, it is crippling, it is horrible. This is why we do not seek war. The next time you report a roadside bomb or overturned Humvee in Iraq, remember that the young soldier left behind the same grief and sadness you now feel. And perhaps, when you question the ones who put that young person and a hundred thousand others there, maybe you’ll ask why.
UPDATE: Laura Flanders at firedoglake with a similar sentiment.