Luke Russert on snark, journalism, faith and easy targets

Let's start the day with a quick thought from Luke Russert of NBC News, who recently sat down with David Brody of The Christian Broadcasting Network -- the rather rare reporter in the Christian television world who often talks with real, live national leaders and thinkers.

Russert, of course, is the son of the late Tim Russert of Meet The Press fame, who an outspoken Catholic and quite respected by activists and leaders on both sides of American politics. Why? He was a veteran Democrat who had some understanding of the beliefs of blue-collar workers, labor-union members, Midwestern Catholics and other members of the old Democratic Party coalition that included some room for moral conservatives.

Thus, Tim Russert was known for occasionally stating the obvious truth that others declined to voice.

So, let's let this exchange with the young Russert speak for itself:

DAVID BRODY: Do you believe the media, or if not so much the media, writ large, the much larger population has some sort of bias against whether it be a strong conservative evangelical or maybe a strong Catholic, whatever it happens to be, you know, people of faith. It just seems that if you wear it on your sleeve too much you can get bit to a degree.

LUKE RUSSERT: I think that's absolutely accurate and I think the current world in which we live in, specifically with the American media, snark is valued. And it's very easy to come after people of faith no matter what they're religion is -- Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu. That you're sort of tagged with this label of being puritanical and not understanding of others or of different viewpoints and I think that's kind of, it’s lazy, number one, and I think it's just something that just feeds the snickering masses if you will in that regard. ...

For me, I think issues of faith are very complex. When you cover them as a journalist, you simply can't I feel stereotype somebody as fitting into a box, because if you go out and talk to journalists, it’s “oh, evangelicals, that means die-hard Republicans, red-meat Republicans.” What is a huge issue for evangelicals? Climate change, right? Taking care of the Earth God gave us.

Same thing for Catholics. “You’re a practicing Catholic. That must mean you hate gay marriage and you hate people who’ve had abortions.” Well, what else? You’re also opposed to the death penalty. You’re a Catholic, and you’re also trying very much to alleviate people out of poverty. So too much, I believe, folks try and stereotype in these boxes when people wear their faith on their sleeve. And I’m always very, very cautious of that. That, alright, when Rick Santorum goes out there, wears Catholicism on his sleeve, he absolutely should be pushed with questions about contraception, about gay marriage, but also should be pushed with questions about poverty, about education, things of that level. And the same with evangelicals.

I would also add that it helps, from time to time, to ask people on the left side of the political and cultural aisle precisely the same questions (yes, including the one about the death penalty).

Now, it would be easy for GetReligion readers to focus on one or two details in Russert's remarks (all evangelicals are pumped up about climate change, for example) and miss the larger point.

Constructive discussion, please. Please stick to the core journalism issue.

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