Mighty Tim Russert Wields His Clout
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It seems that Arianna Huffington has run up against the impenetrable wall that is Tim Russert's ego. Huffington, who is currently on tour for her new book "Right Is Wrong: How The Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded The Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe, will be appearing on CNN, ABC, and CBS. She had been booked on Morning Joe and Countdown with Keith Olbermann as well, but those bookings were suddenly and inexplicably cancelled.
NBC confirmed that Huffington wouldn't be booked on any NBC-affiliated show to promote her book, but refused to explain why. Huffington's people say that this is Tim Russert's doing, that Russert is out for revenge because Huffington called him a "conventional wisdom zombie" in her book and devoted seven pages to faulting Russert for allowing his Meet the Press guests to go unchallenged (not to mention HuffPo's RussertWatch).
If Huffington's claim is true and Russert has been pulling rank with NBC, then this whole affair smacks of immature middle-school antics. Is Russert really that sensitive that he can't take criticism from Huffington? And if he truly thinks his show hasn't become an outlet for Bush administration figures to push their message uncontested (as Huffington suggests), then shouldn't he bring Huffington on and challenge her assertions? Or, at the very least, allow Huffington to go on another NBC show?
Probably not, since that would mean Russert would have to ask tough questions for a change.
ZP Heller is the editorial director of Brave New Films. He has written for The American Prospect, AlterNet, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Huffington Post, covering everything from politics to pop culture.