Friday, October 17, 2008

Today's Word—Tough Questions

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Inquiring Minds Need to Know

“It’s not enough to simply confirm your political views by only watching or accessing outlets that reinforce your views and do not challenge them. That is what I believe is a simple but important premise. . . . I am ever more convinced that a leader cannot make tough decisions unless he or she is asked tough questions. That is the only vehicle that brings them to closure, that forces any sense of intellectual rigor, that forces them to find a way to reconcile the political advice or the political pressures brought to bear.

"It will not be enough in a democratic society to simply have those on the left or right who are pamphleteers and unwilling to challenge the views of people they support. Tough questions need not be the loudest or the most sensational or the most theatrical, but rather probing and, hopefully, incisive.”

—Tim Russert (1950-2008), political journalist and host, Meet the Press, in Red Smith Lecture in Journalism at Notre Dame University, April 2008.

2 comments:

  1. vcjjhyaRussert was well connected in the Beltway having worked as a political operative for NY Senator Moynihan. While his quote sounds noble and hard to disagree with, his practicing of what it preaches left a lot to be desired. His MTP formula was a list of "gotcha" questions usually with little meaningful follow-up. Russert always seemed to be playing a journalist on TV, sucking up to power in the process while posing as "tough". The fact that Cheney and his minions considered Russert an easy conduit for their purposes is just one example of that.

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  2. Sahila ChangeBringerOctober 18, 2008 at 1:55 PM

    To be clear, I have no stake in today's posting and dont know any of the people mentioned....

    But, with due respect to the previous commentator... isnt his comment another example of the difficulty of deciding what is 'truth'?

    Here is presented a direct quote from a man who is, unfortunately, not around any longer to question as to his own perspective on his motivations and dealings with the political movers and shakers...

    And a (derisive) comment is contributed, which states that the man didnt practise what he preached.... and as proof of that a further comment is added that others considered him an easy conduit for their purposes...

    Now, in my humble view, that comment is the contributor's OPINION, rather than a fact, a 'truth'...

    Did Russert himself ever outline his reasons for taking the tack/using the style he did and did Cheney and his 'minions' ever state in clear, unequivocal terms that they considered him an easy conduit?

    Amazes me that we still do this in the 21st Century - attribute motivations and reasons for others' actions when they've never made them clear themselves and are no longer around to ask, or to rebut the theorising that comes forward....

    Reminds me of an English Literature professor I knew in the 1980s - full of all this analysis and theory about Shakespeare and Spenser and Chaucer and their motivations, what they were thinking/doing in their lives whilst they were creating their works and specifically how their output was shaped by that... and hardly a jot of solid 'evidence' to go by... mostly all conjecture - educated conjecture, true, shaped by what we know of the times and by collateral accounts, but still conjecture because there's no way to get it 'from the horse's mouth'...

    And now, most of this conjecture is taken for 'truth' and taught as such in universities around the world....

    And that's how it is in most spheres of life.... we judge and make assumptions about situations, events, people through the narrow filters of our own minds and most of us are unable (or unwilling) to hold more than one perspective at a time... and that conjecture - what my mid-20s social activist and stand-up comedian daughter (with a post grad diploma in social policy)calls wanky psuedo-intellectual theorising, otherwise called talking 'shite' - repeated often enough by enough 'qualified' people, becomes 'truth'....

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