The Ancien Régime
Luke Russert, nepotist prince
Luke Russert is being groomed as a simulacrum of his father — but without the inspiring rags-to-riches story
By Alex Pareene, Salon
Thursday, May 24, 2012 11:35 AM EDT
Tim Russert was not the unalloyed saint of tough journalism that his celebrators describe in posthumous tributes, but he was at least a classic American success story, of the sort that we still enjoy pretending is common: Blue-collar kid from Rust Belt town becomes enormously successful thanks largely to brains and hard work. The story of Luke Russert, alas, is a much more common one in American life: No-account kid of successful person has more success thrust upon him.
Pretty much immediately upon the death of his father, Luke Russert inexplicably had a full-time broadcasting job, supplanting his part-time broadcasting job co-hosting a satellite radio sports talk show with James Carville. (That was a real thing that actually existed. Can you imagine a human who would want to listen to that?)
Russert isn’t the only famous child in media. He isn’t even the only famous child at NBC, which also employs Jenna Bush Hager and Chelsea Clinton (who renewed her three-month temporary contract earlier this year, despite barely producing any work for the network). Fox has Peter Doocy, Chris Wallace and, here in New York, Greg Kelly. ABC has Chris Cuomo, and CNN Anderson Cooper. A.G. Sulzberger is a reporter for the New York Times. Some of those people are fine journalists, by the way. Nepotism has always been a major force in journalism and media – it is a fact of life and one that would be exhausting to be continually het up about – and plenty of nepotism beneficiaries are wonderful writers and talented people. If you’re raised by interesting people and get a good education at home and at the finest schools, you really ought to turn out pretty smart. But Russert is emblematic of the sort of nepotism that gives nepotism a bad name. He’s not a wonderful writer or a particularly talented person. And unlike Chelsea Clinton and her very silly “reporting good news about people who do charity or something” beat, he’s actually got a real journalism job that someone else without the name Russert could be doing much more effectively. He’s not even particularly good on TV.