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If anyone still wonders why network news and its close analogues on cable are losing market share and credibility, the above tweet by NBC News employee Luke Russert provides some useful information. He posted it at 1.10pm[*] on April 15, when essentially no information about the Boston Marathon bombing was known. [*]: Note that the bombing took place around 2.50pm ET, so Russert must be tweeting from a non-ET zone.
It combines the worst elements of a humblebrag—look at me, at Fenway Park with a well-known recidivist plagiarist!—while tossing out an unsubstantiated suggestion that can only stoke paranoia all around. Well done, Little Russ, well done.
This sort of loaded free association is hardly the province of the MSM, of course. Over at Pajamas Media a couple of days back, former American Enterprise Institute big-wig Michael Ledeen published a blissfully fact-free rumination titled, "Was Benghazi a Honey Pot Trap?," which posits—in a fake conversation with the spirit of James Jesus Angleton of all paranoiacs to choose from—that U.S. Amb. Chris Stevens was lured to to Benghazi by a gay lover.
One almost expects such awfulness from a character like Ledeen, who has a long history of meringue-based theories.
But is it too much to ask for folks—especially those in the fabled "real news" world—to kinda-sorta withhold every goddamn thought that crosses the mind, especially as crises are playing out? Apparently.
A note on Twitter timestamps related to Russert's email account.
When I click through on the tweet image above, I am brought Russert's Twitter account where the timestamp reads "1:10 PM—15 Apr 13." Sitting across a desk from me in Reason's DC HQ, Mike Riggs finds the time to be 4.10pm:
Here's a third timestamp—for 8.10pm—when I try to embed the tweet:
If in fact Russert made the original tweet at 1.10pm ET, that would have been an hour-plus before the bombs exploded, suggesting that Russert had foreknowledge of the attack (hey, I don't believe that, but I'm just "speculating on possible link.") If the tweet went up at 4.10pm, then it is merely an irresponsible and uninformed spitball, which is probably the best you can say about it. If it actually went up at 8.10pm, then it's four hours later (and lamer) than whatever went up at 4.10pm.
Another theory, which presumes the 1.10pm timestamp is in fact correct, comes from reader Josh Z, who writes:
I can't stand Russert either but you fucked up on your story on his Twitter feed.
He posted that Twitter handle almost two hours BEFORE the bombing occurred. He was reminiscing remembering a day 20 years earlier when he was at a Patriots' Day game with his dad and Barnicle at Fenway when Waco occurred.
As the three of them first heard of Waco at the ballgame, they were speculating if there was a link between the timing of Waco and Patriots' Day.
That is what he was saying. He was not making any link to the Boston bombing as it would not occur for two more hours.
I can't stand the kid. I don't like his hair and the fact he got a job handed to him with no credentials but you missed the mark here and should make a correction.
That letter prompted me to take a closer look at the timestamps, which yielded at least three distinct results. But note too that while April 19, 1993 was in fact both Patriots' Day in Boston and the day that the Waco stand-off ended, it's not clear what connection the two might have had. The Waco standoff started on February 28, 1993 and ended only when U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno gave a greenlight to a final assault on the Branch Davidians' compound on April 19. Leaving aside questions of whether anybody outside of Massachusetts really knows about or cares about Patriots' Day, it was the U.S. government that was responsible for any coincidental timing between that regional holiday and the final clonflagration at Waco. So if Tim Russert, Luke Russert, and Mike Barnicle were in fact puzzling over a connection between Waco and Patriots' Day, they should have been asking Janet Reno why she picked that particular day to attack a building that was fully surrounded by federal agents.