With Great Power Comes Great Numbers of Angry Critics

It's a bit hard to know what to say when an important public figure whose work you didn't really care for passes. But I think in a lot of ways it sells Tim Russert's legacy short to offer merely bland praise (it really is true, by all accounts, that he was a super-nice guy to those who knew him in person) for someone who really was a dominating presence in modern journalism who exercised enormous direct and indirect influence. Nobody can become as important as Russert was without doing some stuff that some people think was bad. Thus, when The Atlantic asked me to do a Current item on Russert's passing, I thought I'd take a mixed approach that doesn't back down from criticism, while trying to be magnanimous in recognizing his considerable accomplishments.

Meanwhile, in a BHTV episode Jane Hamsher and I recorded shortly before Russert died, Jane revisited her displeasure with Russert's handling of the Scooter Libby matter.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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