Wisdom From Hitchens

Over at Slate, Christopher Hitchens provides some much needed pushback against the deluge of Tim Russert hagiography:

Last on the list of miracles (and do please beware anything that comes in threes) was the apparition of a huge and beautiful rainbow arcing over the Potomac as the mourners came up to the Kennedy Center rooftop for a reception. In the words of NBC News executive Phil Griffin, “After the magical experience of this service, to come out and see the rainbow and Luke at the bottom of it made the last dry eye weep.” It was further pointed out that the last song at the memorial service had been “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Tim’s son, Luke, was quoted as asking, “Is anyone still an atheist now?”

Not pausing to answer that question, I think this media myth-making, however tongue-in-cheek some of it may be, helps our understanding of why people are theists. After all, just remember why we mourners of that day were gathered in the first place. One of our friends and colleagues had been struck stone dead by his coronary arteries, in the prime of life, at just the moment when he had been celebrating his son’s graduation. He had had everything to look forward to. For my part, I was distressed by all this, and sorry about it, which is why I donned a tie and went along to bow my head. But now I read that, because of room-temperature political politeness and the vagaries of the weather, I was supposed to have been grateful for the bereavement? What if it hadn’t been an election year? What if the network couldn’t have contacted a rock star? What if the sky had been merely sunny or had filled with lightning? Surely our mass media would adopt a tone of polite condescension if it was reporting on such primitive attitudes in the backlands of Alaska or Peru or Congo.


  1. #1 gary
    June 24, 2008

    I pretty much stopped watching TV news about fifteen years ago because in my opinion it has become more about hype than information. I do occasionally catch a minute or a few of some news show, though, and I saw enough of Russert to realize that he was somewhat of a thowback to an earlier age when hype wasn’t the be all and the end all of TV news.

    How ironic that TV news has now decided to hype the life and death of Russert.

  2. #2 Adam
    June 25, 2008

    Luke, since you asked . . . did you or anyone pray for your dad to live? Was your prayer answered?

  3. #3 jimvj
    June 26, 2008

    Justin Raimondo, 18 June:
    Enough Already; The eulogies for Tim Russert ignore his role as the War Party’s sounding board.

  4. #4 jimvj
    June 26, 2008

    Url disappeared above. This is it

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