Over at Slate, Mickey Kaus went to town on the newest proof of the tick-tight relationship of NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert and James Carville, embarrassing "he just groped Gennifer Flowers in a bar" Clinton spinner. Russert has now created his own personal Washington ethical scandal:
Lukegate: Step 1) Tim Russert books the tired Carville-Matalin act more than 35 times on his Meet the Press talk show, boosting their bankability on the lucrative lecture circuit. Step 2) Carville--with Russert's eager prodding--also uses their most recent, conveniently-timed MTP appearance to plug his new XM Satellite radio sports show. ... That's smarmily venal enough, you say? Wrong! Step 3) Carville's co-host on the XM show is Russert's son, Luke, who is "currently a sophomore at Boston College." Russert and Carville joke about this on the air but don't quite have the balls to actually inform viewers of the key conflict:
MR. RUSSERT: James Carville, before you go I understand that politics may be part of your past, that you're going to go on XM Satellite Radio and do sports?
MR. CARVILLE: Well, Mr. Russert, I can't talk about that too much, but I think there going to be a story tomorrow's paper. Tomorrow night I'll be on the Jay Leno show on NBC, and we'll be talking about some exciting new developments and maybe a new twist on an old career.
MR. RUSSERT: With anyone I know?
MR. CARVILLE: Maybe you would be familiar with someone I'll be teaming up in this, but let's just say it's going to offer a generational look at sports and the coaches of sports and things like that ... [Emph. added]
Har, har. ... Special Russert Prosecutor Arianna Huffington effectively exploits almost all the possible lines of attack here--including, but not limited to, the core charge that Russert has perverted the content of his own show for self-interested motives that might be excused as subconscious if they weren't so blatant:
Does Tim think nobody's going to notice that he's having a guest on his "news" show who is making it possible for his son to co-host a national sports radio show before he's out of college?
You'd think NBC would have an ethics policy or something. ...
P.S.: One angle Arianna misses is the bad parenting angle. It's one thing if a big star uses his connections to get a job for his unemployed son. Connections help. Stars' sons are often talented! But a sophomore in college? Isn't that rushing the connections thing a bit? Does Tim Russert think he's actually doing his son a favor? Does Luke Russert have no spark of honest Oedipal anger? ... The late Marjorie Williams could get a whole column out of this parenting point. I'm not Marjorie Williams, so I'll stop. But quite apart from parenting, the whole thing stinks. If George Stephanopoulos, or someone with a perilous network perch, tried this, they'd be in deep trouble. Maybe Russert is too....Russert certainly won't be giving a keynote address at a conference on "Ethics in Media" any time soon! ... Oh, wait. ...
P.P.S.: Does Howie ('Sure, I'm willing to attack my CNN paymasters') Kurtz have the huevos to write about the Russert/Luke/Carville incest in WaPo? I say no! ...
The Washington Post did let D.C. know about this here.
And for puzzled Arianna fans, one rationale for asking Obama about Belafonte is here.
UPDATE: MRC senior analyst Geoff Dickens e-mailed that on his CNBC show last weekend, Russert was lecturing on the Abramoff scandal:
“My dad has a wonderful expression: Nothing's free. So when people ask you for something or you ask them, there’s always something in return. It's the way the world works. You take a charter flight, a congressman now can have a corporate, corporation give them their charter plane, private aircraft, and they'll pay a first-class rate, which from Washington to, say, St. Louis would be 5 or $600. The actual cost of that flight would be 4 or $5,000 in terms of what it would mean to that corporation for fuel and maintenance of that private aircraft. Doesn't that corporation believe that they then have access to this congressman they normally wouldn't have?”
Say, Mr. Russert, sir, it's time for you to submit to an interview, and let someone put up a large graphic of your critics' writings, and watch you squirm.