The Time 100 list of the most influential people is out, and MSNBC on Friday afternoon was touting its own designated power broker, NBC Washington Bureau Chief and Meet the Press host Tim Russert. There’s only one problem. The gooey profile is written by former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. Russert worked for Cuomo as a counselor and media strategist in 1983 and 1984, but Time never mentioned that. Neither did MSNBC anchor Norah O’Donnell as she interviewed Time’s Adi Ignatius on the picks, and turned to ask him giddily which NBCer was honored. Ignatius replied:
It's Tim Russert. You know, I mean, part of the magic of this list is having interesting people write about the honorees. We had Mario Cuomo, former governor of New York, write the piece on Tim Russert. He said, whether you like Tim or not, whether you like his programming, the road to the White House goes through Tim Russert and his program. So he is, you know, practically a kingmaker in U.S. politics.
"That is true," declared O’Donnell, but Ignatius didn’t explain the "magic" is having close friends write about the honorees. Wouldn’t it help readers to know what might seem obvious to the Manhattan media crowd, that Russert worked for Cuomo? Cuomo’s byline on the piece is simply "Cuomo is a three-term governor of New York state".
Cuomo’s entire article sounds like a toast at a banquet, which is apparently the magazine’s intention (besides giving the staff writers some free time):
Every Sunday, more than 4 million Americans tune in to Meet the Press seeking help in trying to understand the issues and the candidates. They choose that program because Tim Russert is among the most astute, discerning and relentless pursuers of truth in the nation, and has been for years.
It’s funnier that Cuomo concluded the little piece: "Tim never forgets where he comes from. He never lets us forget either, and we love it!" But Time certainly forgot to explain where Russert worked just before joining NBC News.
It’s not like Time magazine never mentioned it. Back in the June 18, 1984 issue, Time’s Kurt Andersen was quoting young Russert, the top Cuomo aide, on how Mario would not accept Walter Mondale’s vice-presidential slot if it was offered:
Cuomo, in office for less than two years, is still mainly untested. He did, during his first month, deftly resolve a 53-hour cell-block takeover by inmates at Sing Sing. He was an early and important Mondale supporter, but he seems authentically reluctant to run, and has unequivocally promised to serve out his gubernatorial term. His chief aide, Tim Russert, does not dance around the issue coyly. "I know him very, very well," says Russert. "He won't do it."