Wow, wasn't yesterday a black letter day for the world?
Thing One: By every account, one of the most decent men in television died unexpectedly of coronary thrombosis in his office at age 58 (!). Tim Russert was, to me, the face of NBC News as a political analyst who appeared frequently across their whole day's news programming. He was also the longest running host (since 1991) of the longest running show in worldwide television history (Meet The Press, on the air since 1947, and on radio before that!).
I try hard not to write posts for StronglyWordedLetter.com about subjects that are going to be covered so much better elsewhere and there are no shortage of tributes to Tim all over the internet, on TV, and in print this morning. I urge you to seek them out to read about this giant of American journalism.
On last night's Dateline NBC special remembrance, they showed interviews with Russert's colleagues and friends in the news business who all spoke of his decency, his loyalty, his passion for his work and family, his deep Catholicism, his love of baseball, his patriotism and so much more.
I didn't know some of the stories I heard but do know that as a viewer I was always impressed by how smart, articulate, fair and prepared he was every time I saw him on television. In a medium that is increasingly filled with Bill O'Reilly, Keith Olbermann, John Gibson and other blowhards like them, Tim Russert was a rare broadcaster, one that made you proud of how he used his platform to educate and enlighten the audience.
Thing Two: Are you kidding me that R. Kelly was acquitted of all 14 counts of child pornography yesterday? Even though I have been predicting it for years, I secretly hoped I was just being pessimistic about the American judicial system.
For those who didn't follow the case, Kelly is a popular R&B singer who managed to delay this trial for nearly six years before it got to court last month. He was accused of having sex with an underage girl. The principal evidence in the prosecution's case was A VIDEO OF R. KELLY HAVING SEX WITH THE UNDERAGE GIRL!!!
The defense attorney lied argued that it was not his client in the video even though the whole courtroom could see that the man on the tape was the man in the suit sitting next to the defense attorney. At one point it was argued that a couple must have broken into R. Kelly's house and filmed the sex tape there, then digitally altered the video to make it look like the singer and his underage goddaughter. (!)
That the defendant is an internationally known celebrity didn't hurt him; he has even had numerous Top Ten albums and singles on the pop charts even since the charges were filed. You won't convince me that having eight African-Americans on the jury wasn't as good as a Get Out Of Jail Free card either. Go ahead and argue that the racial makeup was appropriate for the trial's location, Chicago, and I'll even agree with you. It would be hard to find eight blacks in America who want to see R. Kelly in jail, much less eight in one jury pool.
All in all, a truly sucky Friday the Thirteenth this year.