An Amazing Tale of Perserverance, Individual Talent Shining Through Despite the Odds, and Our Awesome Meritocracy

Via Digby, this:

Luke Russert, son of Tim Russert, the “Meet the Press” host who died in 2008, was an intern at City Hall during summer 2007. In an interview, Mr. Russert said that he juggled two internships that summer — one at the mayor’s office, the other at NBC, working for Conan O’Brien.

Mr. Russert, then a senior at Boston College, worked for Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey, who befriended his father after both worked for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Mr. Russert researched gun-control positions of Republican lawmakers who wanted to meet with Mr. Bloomberg. “It was really worthwhile,” he said. “It was not just opening letters and getting coffee.”

Asked what role his connections played in landing the job, he said: “I don’t really know about that. I went through the application process like anyone else.”

I need a drink.






54 replies
  1. 1
    Gravenstone says:

    Self deception. It’s how far too many people sleep at night.

  2. 2
    schrodinger's cat says:

    We need Tunch…

  3. 3
    frankdawg says:

    fucking ass – born on 3rd base & the fucker thinks he hit a triple. Like Ben Stain he will wonder what is wrong with people who don’t make 250k a year sucking establishment dick.

  4. 4

    Asked what role his connections played in landing the job, he said: “I don’t really know about that. I went through the application process like anyone else.”

    head/desk face/palm – you know the drill.

  5. 5
    Gabe says:

    No different from Tori Spelling getting onto her father’s 90210 show. Same application process as everyone else.

  6. 6
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Yes. This. Ditto.

    ETA @arguingwithsignposts: Or, you know, moar SMUDGE!

  7. 7
    Nom de Plume says:

    Shorter Luke Russert:

    I went through the application process my father’s rolodex like anyone else

  8. 8
    eemom says:

    I’m guessing he smelled good when he filled out that application.

  9. 9
    Zifnab says:

    I mean, this isn’t the biggest deal in the world. You could draw a really short line between Ted Kennedy and nearly every notable east coast Democrat in Congress or the White House going back 50 years. It’s not coincidence that the Bush family held multiple Governorships and the Presidency twice in 20 years. Networking is absolutely vital when getting these plume jobs.

    That said, Russert’s inability to understand how he scored this gig is what really pains me. It’s inside baseball. We all know it’s inside baseball. Playing the “Joe Everyman” card like you just got off the bus, dropped off your resume, and won the lottery is fucking absurd.

  10. 10
    eemom says:

    oh, and I almost fergot –fuck the little entitled twerp. Also3.

  11. 11
    beltane says:

    It’s too bad the Constitution bans titles of nobility. If these people were titled, the commoners would be more likely to chafe under the rule of the Lord Russerts and Lady Quinns of the world. These people are not like us, they will never be like us, and they should not be allowed to claim they are like us.

  12. 12
    dmsilev says:

    Wonder whether he thinks his gig at NBC is solely due to merit?

    dms

  13. 13
    Comrade Mary says:

    I think we need a Smudge and Tunch sandwich.

  14. 14
    WereBear says:

    Yeah, some of them are sincerely that clueless. I think they think: Well, I made it, and I’m kinda dumb and unmotivated…

    But all it does it make them contemptuous of others.

  15. 15
    Comrade Dread says:

    Which is why I’m firmly against affirmative action.

    It takes away college scholarships, internships, and jobs from hard working Legacy kids.

  16. 16
    bkny says:

    i bet he’s one smug prick in the office. and to think of older, experienced, knowledgeable reporters who have been downsized from general electric in recent years. russert truly is one stupid shit; i’ve only seen him a couple of times, but his ‘reporting’ was stale, chewed-over talking points.

  17. 17
    Warren Terra says:

    Asked what role his connections played in landing the job, he said: “I don’t really know about that. I went through the application process like anyone else.

    Well, to be fair, it’s not really possible to know how much of a role his connections played – sure, it looks like it was 99.9%, but maybe his sterling qualifications and winning personality mean that his connections really only played a 98% role.

    Of course, the whole existence of unpaid internships is a crime against our society; even if the NBC and Bloomberg internships were awarded by merit or by lottery, it’s only those with the support of a financially secure family who can afford to take the internships and get a career-long advantage over their financially insecure peers. The fact that these vehicles for middle-class privilege are being subverted to give special advantage to the elite is a natural consequence of that. It’s all part of the ongoing feudalization of our society that people like Ben Stein, Ben Nelson, and the 39 Republican Senators who voted against extending the unemployment benefit today celebrate, while most Democrats seemingly merely regretfully accept it as inevitable.

  18. 18
    beltane says:

    @dmsilev: Of course he feels this way. Just like every dumbass twenty-something who got a million dollar bonus from Goldman Sachs thinks this way. Our upper classes use the concept of a meritocracy to obscure the fact that their parents’ wealth and prestige virtually guarantees them success in our society. Even if Luke Russert had turned out to be a semi-illiterate heroin addict, he still would have been one of the “winners”.

  19. 19
    eemom says:

    the other thing is, it is extremely creepy how much he looks like Timmeh, may he RIP.

  20. 20
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    George W Bush at least had the decency to develop a drinking problem and a pathological religious delusion in response to his insecurity about riding on Daddy’s coat tails.

    Do you think it ever occured to the young spud that he was, most likely, only ever admitted to BC because he was the only son of multi-millionaires?

  21. 21
    Ruckus says:

    @beltane:
    These people are not like us, they will never be like us, and they should not be allowed to claim they are like us.
    I for one feel loads better that I’m not like them, let alone that they are like me. For as many times as I been accused of being an asshole, I’ve only managed fit that description a very few times. The Lords and Ladies revel in being assholes. When you look up asshole in the dictionary they are in the database. As prime examples. It’s like Monty Python’s twit sketch. They are so clueless, they don’t have the capability to get it.

  22. 22
    Joshua Norton says:

    So how does he explain the fact that he still has the job even though he sucks out loud at it?

  23. 23
    beltane says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: No, no, no. That can’t be. It is only undeserving inner city youth who are admitted to elite universities. Wealthy white kids with famous parents don’t stand a chance in today’s world.

  24. 24
    WereBear says:

    If we ever wondered why our society is so screwed up, it’s because we have Legacies running so much of it.

  25. 25
    beltane says:

    @Ruckus: So true. Sally Quinn, for example, came from the type of background where she could have been anything she wanted. There were no doors that were closed to her. So what did she choose to be? A professional c**t.

    We’re stuck with a nobility that can’t even be bothered to feign a little noblesse oblige.

  26. 26
    Ruckus says:

    @Joshua Norton:
    It’s obvious that you don’t have to be good at anything to be a pundit on TV. You don’t have to be smart, thoughtful or accomplished at anything other than talking without drooling and there is proof everyday right in our living rooms.

  27. 27
    Ruckus says:

    @beltane:
    It’s so horrible when one doesn’t know their place.
    /barf

    Or maybe she does know her place.

  28. 28
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Warren Terra:

    Of course, the whole existence of unpaid internships is a crime against our society; even if the NBC and Bloomberg internships were awarded by merit or by lottery, it’s only those with the support of a financially secure family who can afford to take the internships and get a career-long advantage over their financially insecure peers.

    Yep. I got a graduate screenwriting degree and the only people who got paid jobs after graduation were the ones who had been able to work 40 hours a week unpaid in the industry. Those of us who actually had to hold down jobs to get through school were pretty much hosed.

    And it’s not that the people who did get jobs weren’t talented, or didn’t work hard. They were, and they did, but they still had a completely unrelated advantage that none of the rest of us had.

  29. 29
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    I think we need a Smudge and Tunch sandwich sammich.

    Fixed, so jeffreyw can take a picture of it.

    Mmmmm. . .Tudge’n’Smunch sammies!

  30. 30
    Violet says:

    @Zifnab:

    That said, Russert’s inability to understand how he scored this gig is what really pains me.

    I don’t get the impression he doesn’t understand how he got the gig. It sounds like he knows but doesn’t want to advertise it in an interview with the NYT. Pretty much no one wants to say, “Well, my dad’s connections got me the job. I doubt I would have even got my foot in the door without them.”

    Still, this whole habit of giving jobs to the kids of famous people really needs to stop. Jenna Bush Hager on the Today Show has to be one of the worst. She’s absolutely awful and her voice is like nails on a chalkboard. I can’t believe they keep her around.

  31. 31
    Nellcote says:

    Don’t endorse how he got the job but I have to say he isn’t the worst “contributor” on cable…see Chuck Todd, Ed Henry, Mark Halperin etc.

  32. 32
    Nylund says:

    This is unfair to Luke. For all we know one of the legitimate application questions could have been, “Will hiring you help us to curry favor with anyone who is rich and poweful?”

    Or do they save that question for the interview?

  33. 33
    jank_w says:

    What I really loved in the article was this quote:

    But the mayor has made his distaste for nepotism clear. In 2004, he criticized the state system for appointing judges, saying it “allows party leaders to dictate hiring decisions based on party connections — or family connections — and not on merit.”

    Born on home plate, heir to one of the largest family fortunes in the history of humanity, probably thinks he’s gdamn Babe Ruth…

  34. 34
    WereBear says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yeah; I know how much that sucks.

    For instance, I had a shot at scholarships in high school; but I worked and/or was a live in nanny all that time. (Yes, sometimes I was too young and it was illegal.) So I couldn’t rack up any of that community service, sports, clubs, and all that stuff that makes you look “well rounded.”

    I wound up getting a scholarship to community college with my SAT scores. And I couldn’t afford the coaching; that’s another leg up richer kids get.

    A wonderful book about this phenomenon is And Still We Rise: The Trials and Triumphs of Twelve Gifted Inner-city High School Students. Yes, they have AP classes and a shot at making the needed grades.

    But they have only one AP teacher… and they have jobs… and they have to babysit while their parents work a second shift… and they don’t have enough books to go around… and they don’t have the right clothes to wear on interviews…. it goes on and on.

    When some Conservatives sneer about level playing fields I want to commit mayhem, I really do.

  35. 35
    bemused says:

    None of this is surprising…it goes on everywhere. What really fries me is when young’ns Russert & Bush get to jump right into spots on major tv shows. I wonder how people who have really worked trying to get there feel about getting passed over for the connected kids. Every time I see Luke on the tv, I turn the channel. Jenna, I have never seen & plan on keeping that way.

  36. 36
    Cacti says:

    The Luke Russerts of the world are why Estates ought to be taxed at 95%.

  37. 37
    cmorenc says:

    @John Cole

    Asked what role his connections played in landing the job, he said: “I don’t really know about that. I went through the application process like anyone else.”

    Actually, it’s far more likely that Luke Russert was knowingly giving a “socially correct” rather than frank answer to the question, instread of speaking from any true obliviousness or naivete about how his connections helped mightily in getting those internships. Easy for us to say he should have given an honestly straightforward answer, but another bit of education he acquired through being around his father and tons of political movers and shakers while growing up was that there are many situations in the political and business world where a bit of transparent, but socially “correct” dissimulation may not make the best impression, while the honest, frank answer can lead one into far more (and more difficult) trouble than the transparent dissimulation ever could.

    That observation does not in the slightest absolve Luke Russert from often coming across as a bit of a priviliged, barely sufferable twit who wouldn’t be anywhere near where he is, and so soon, without his family conncetions. But he isn’t obliviously stupid either.

  38. 38
    mellowjohn says:

    @eemom:

    i think ben stein’s usage was “smells well.”
    i guess that means little luke’s olfactory discrimination was so well developed that he could sniff out who’s ass was the most beneficial to kiss.

  39. 39
    Keith G says:

    After watch what happened to Ms Sherrod, why would anyone think the truth would be a good idea?

  40. 40
    Badtux says:

    Sad, that these dim sons think they attained everything in life due to their own merits. I seem to recall another dim son whose daddy even bought him the Presidency, at which point he decided he knew better than Daddy and did something that Daddy had told him never, never, ever to do. But dim son thought he knew better. Stupid inbred dim sons just don’t have the sense god gave a brain-damaged poodle, but they’re too stupid to know it…

    – Badtux the “Invade Iraq? Bad idea, son!” Penguin

  41. 41
    cmorenc says:

    @Mnemosyne

    Yep. I got a graduate screenwriting degree…

    Stop, I think we’ve identified the more fundamental problem right there with your employment chances than just the existence of fellow screenwrighting students who could afford to take unpaid internships rather than work their way through screenwriting grad school. It’s like anyone who plans to support themself being a famous artist…good luck there.

  42. 42
    C Nelson Reilly says:

    It was the radio sports show with Carville that put Little Russ over the top.

  43. 43
    Mnemosyne says:

    @cmorenc:

    Stop, I think we’ve identified the more fundamental problem right there with your employment chances than just the existence of fellow screenwrighting students who could afford to take unpaid internships rather than work their way through screenwriting grad school. It’s like anyone who plans to support themself being a famous artist…good luck there.

    Believe it or not, it applies to other, more “practical” fields as well. Who do you think is going to land a better job after graduation, the law or MBA student who can take a full-time unpaid internship or the one who has to work and go to school at the same time?

    Also, I do live in Los Angeles, so we’re talking about people who had full-time, unpaid jobs on actual TV shows and with production companies. The entertainment industry is particularly notorious for their unpaid internships racket, so it’s more a difference of degree for this industry than of kind.

    Trust me, the people writing for “One Tree Hill” or “Hannah Montana” are not the equivalent of Rembrandt.

  44. 44
    WereBear says:

    @cmorenc: No.

    Show business is a business; perhaps unlike most others, but there’s more need than ever for people to populate this enormous enterprise. I think you are missing the point; it had nothing to do with the kind of business it was.

  45. 45
    cmorenc says:

    @Mnemosyne

    Trust me, the people writing for “One Tree Hill” or “Hannah Montana” are not the equivalent of Rembrandt.

    Interesting you should mention Rembrandt. A couple of months ago I was in Amsterdam for four days and toured through Rembrandt’s well-preserved/restored house, which is one of the most vivid historical homes/sites I have ever been to for giving visitors a keenly accurate sense of his daily life and conduct of his art business and creation. Very little of it is restricted behind velvet ropes – especially in his restored studio where he painted many of his famous masterworks (one of which hangs there) – it’s especially easy to appreciate the typical daytime lighting conditions he had to work with, since his capture of the way light plays off his subjects is his most impressive, important legacy.

    Back more to the topic though, Rembrandt is an example of someone who did make it mostly on his own talent and connections he himself generated, rather than coming from a family positioned to start him off above the basement floor in the arts. He enjoyed great commercial success and even had a gallery in his house where he hung and sold the works of other contemporary artist besides just his own, and entertained clients and patrons. But like many who do succeed in “making” it big for awhile in some movie or television field in Hollywood, Rembrandt eventually fell upon tough times, went bankrupt, and had to sell his house. The arts are a chancy business to be in over a lifetime, even for some who reach the apex of success for many years.

  46. 46
    Mnemosyne says:

    @cmorenc:

    The arts are a chancy business to be in over a lifetime, even for some who reach the apex of success for many years.

    That’s why nepotism is so common in the arts — if a rich person’s kid tries to make it in the arts and fails, no big deal. A poorer person just doesn’t have that option.

  47. 47
    Mnemosyne says:

    @cmorenc:

    And don’t forget, there’s a reason it’s called “show business” and not “show arts.” It’s a business and a lot of “artistic” decisions are made based on the bottom line, not on artistic merit.

  48. 48

    @Mnemosyne:

    the people writing for “One Tree Hill” or “Hannah Montana” are not the equivalent of Rembrandt.

    That went without saying.

  49. 49
    cmorenc says:

    @WereBear:
    @Mnemosyne

    BTW, I hope you realize I was poking fun at your screenwriting endeavor in humorous good-natured jest rather than contemptuous mockery. You know the score with your chances of making it in the entertainment/screenwriting industry perfectly well, and yet you persevere forward – good luck, and do let us know here at BJ of your successes if and when they come.

    I myself am an apostate (but still licensed) lawyer who wandered over into writing computer software for some years, before retiring from both. The legal profession (especially in smaller cities) is one of the most paradigmatic examples of the value of family connections in landing a secure starting gig after law school. Lots of people who would have otherwise struggled to find lawyerly employment fall into small family firms, or else their family whose-been-somebody-in-that-community-for-decades has the connections to get them hired at the local DA’s office.

  50. 50
    Jon H says:

    You just know the punk was collecting business cards at the funeral.

  51. 51
    Xanthippas says:

    Shouldn’t these people have the decency to only steal one job from deserving, hard-working and well-qualified candidates?

  52. 52
    TuiMel says:

    Luke Russert is the embodiment of the creepy fetishization of Tim Russert by NBC and MSNBC. They invoke his name at times of “great import” as if he were Lincoln. If anyone needed evidence that Villagers believe that they are important in their own right (as opposed to having a responsibility to inform their viewers / listeners / readers), one need look no further than the “legacy” of Tim Russert in the NBC “family.” Baby PunkinHead is just a living tribute (and such a deserved one).

    Whenever I see Luke, I am torn between changing the channel and marveling at his glaring lack of talent, insight, or useful information. I think his comments in the interview demonstrate how accustomed he is to having his famous dad (or his memory) open doors for him – rather than bringing scrutiny as to just how many of those doors he has walked through to arrive at his present position:

    “Yeah, the Deputy Mayor and my dad were pals, BUT – Hey, HEy, HEY! I don’t know that that had anything to do with my landing the internship with him (and F@c# you very much for asking).”

  53. 53
    GrabAnApple says:

    @Warren Terra: “sterling qualifications and winning personality”?
    Luke was my year at BC. Let me assure you, that is not how he got the job.

  54. 54
    John Arbuthnot Fisher says:

    @GrabAnApple: As someone who was also at BC (but not Luke’s year), I second this comment. However big of a dbag the BJ community envisions Luke Russert to be, multiply by at least 5 or 10.

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