"You're the best!" "No, YOU'RE the best!!"

How Tim Russert, Bill O'Reilly, Chris Matthews and their talking-head pals wet-kiss each other all the way to the bank.

Published June 19, 2004 11:33PM (EDT)

"Meet the Press" host Tim Russert's recent book, "Big Russ and Me," hasn't just irritated grammarians, it's surely rankled a TV audience weary of hearing Russert -- supposedly our most serious of interlocutors -- talk any more about his dear old dad. In just a month's time, Russert has conquered a stunning array of media outlets, including, but not limited to: "Today" (NBC), "Dateline NBC" (NBC) "Hardball with Chris Matthews" (MSNBC), "Capital Report" (CNBC), "The News" (CNBC), "American Morning" (CNN), "Larry King Live" (CNN), "Wolf Blitzer Reports" (and "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer") (CNN), "The Daily Show" (Comedy Central), "Reliable Sources" (CNN), "The O'Reilly Factor" (Fox) and "Hannity & Colmes" (Fox) -- twice.

That's a lot of attention for a book about Russert's father and other mentors, and modestly described as "a fond look back to the 1950s Buffalo neighborhood of his youth." While he's garnered reviews ranging from respectful to ringing, make no mistake: It's the relentless TV appearances that have caused Russert's book to loiter at the top of the bestseller list for the four weeks it's been out.

He's not the only one; most media figures' books rarely rate a serious review, since they frequently aren't handled too seriously in the first place. As Fox's Sean Hannity told Fox's Greta Van Susteren earlier this year while plugging his bestselling "Deliver Us From Evil": "The entire book came to me in about a one-hour period, including the title, chapter titles, the ideas." So instead of critical raves from those egghead reviewers, the talking-head class relies upon each other to help them move units, and -- as Russert's impressive, cross-channel promotion proves -- network rivalries tend to fade when it comes to helping one's own. Because as the guide below shows, when it comes to promoting a book, nothing helps more than a little backscratching between friends.

And if that fails, you can always plug it on your own show!

Tim Russert talks about "Big Russ and Me" on his CNBC show, "Tim Russert," guest-hosted by Tom Brokaw on May 29, 2004:

BROKAW: We're back talking with Tim Russert, who is normally the host of this program, but it's my privilege to be here to share with you the great news about his book, "Big Russ & Me." Every generation should be reading this one, and especially fathers and sons and members of the family to each other, because it is a great lesson in what we can learn from each other.


BROKAW: Tim, we've been pals and we've been colleagues, but I say this in the most unalloyed fashion. I'm really proud of you, and I'm especially proud of the book that you've done because it's a gift not just to your family, but it's really a gift to our time. And so congratulations.

RUSSERT: Thank you, pal.

Tom Brokaw appears on "Tim Russert" (CNBC) to plug his "The Greatest Generation" on Dec. 5, 1998:

RUSSERT: Good evening and welcome again. The World War II generation. They stopped Hitler, built America into an economic powerhouse. Our guest says they were "The Greatest Generation." With us, anchorman and now critically acclaimed author, Tom Brokaw.

Russert on "Hardball with Chris Matthews," (MSNBC) on May 20, 2004:

RUSSERT: And my most memorable moment was when Senator Moynihan asked my dad, Big Russ, to escort him down the aisle at the American Legion convention to the podium. His official escort, Big Russ. I saw my real dad, my intellectual dad. And to this moment, I wish I could capture that forever.

MATTHEWS: And you did in the book.

RUSSERT: I tried.

MATTHEWS: It's a great book. Anybody who reads this book is going to have a lot of déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra, another one he hears -- what he said.

Anyway, Tim Russert. You've done it! The book is called -- it's everywhere. It's only $22, by the way. It's a nice price for this book. The paperback will be about $8. Anyway, "Big Russ and Me," a great, great, great read.

Matthews on "Tim Russert" (CNBC) on Nov. 16, 2002:

RUSSERT: Good evening and welcome again. You can watch him every night on "Hardball" on MSNBC, and on weekends "The Chris Matthews Show." He now has another new book. It is called "American: Beyond Our Grandest Notions."

MATTHEWS: That's right.

RUSSERT: With us, Chris Matthews.

[Matthews also appeared on "Tim Russert" Nov. 24, 2001 to plug "Now, Let Me Tell You What I Really Think."]

Russert appearing on "Imus in the Morning," (Syndicated on MSNBC) May 10, 2004:

IMUS: It doesn't get any better than this book.

Don Imus, with wife Deirdre and son Wyatt, 5, on "Tim Russert" (CNBC) on May 22, 2004:

RUSSERT: "The Imus Ranch: Cooking for Kids and Cowboys," Deirdre Imus, a great cause. What a great hour.

DEIRDRE IMUS: Thank you, Tim.

RUSSERT: Madame author, thank you. Grumpy, thank you.

DON IMUS: Oh, that was fun.

RUSSERT: Wyatt, my man, you are it. Thank you, all. The Imus family bids good night.

Russert on "The O'Reilly Factor," (Fox) hosted by Bill O'Reilly on May 20, 2004:

O'REILLY: And Tim Russert is everywhere selling his new book, but it's all different when he enters the no-spin zone. [Later]

O'REILLY: Good gift for Father's Day, "Big Russ & Me." And we like Russert. He's a solid guy.

O'Reilly on "Tim Russert" (Oct. 4, 2003):

RUSSERT: Good evening and welcome again. Tonight we speak to one of the most visible and opinionated journalists in America. You can hear him all day long on the radio and every night on Fox News Channel with "The O'Reilly Factor." He's also a bestselling author. His new book: "Who's Looking Out for You?" And our guest is the one and only Bill O'Reilly.

O'Reilly on "On the Record with Greta van Susteren" (Fox) on Oct. 6, 2003:

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it fun for you? I mean you've done this before. You've had a number one bestseller before. I mean is it still a thrill, or does it lose some ...

O'REILLY: Ah, listen, I'm very flattered, particularly because, you know, we had two. We had "The O'Reilly Factor" and "The No Spin Zone." Both hit No. 1. And this will be the third.

Greta van Susteren on "The O'Reilly Factor," (Fox) on Aug. 26, 2003:

O'REILLY: In the "Personal Story" Segment tonight, Greta Van Susteren has a new book out called "My Turn at the Bully Pulpit: Straight Talk About the Things That Drive Me" -- here -- "Nuts." And here she is. All right. Now, on the back of this book, all right, I believe -- where's my name?

VAN SUSTEREN: Up at the top. You don't think I'd ...

O'REILLY: What do I say?

VAN SUSTEREN: Right up there at the top.

O'REILLY: Do I say it's good?

VAN SUSTEREN: You say it's good. You say the plastic surgery chapter alone ...

O'REILLY: Alone is worth the price ...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... is worth the money.

O'REILLY: ... of this book. All right. Well, I like the book, obviously. Gave you a nice blurb for it, and I ...

VAN SUSTEREN: And I appreciate it.

Sean Hannity on "On the Record with Greta van Susteren," (Fox) on Feb. 19, 2004:

VAN SUSTEREN: Tonight, my colleague Sean Hannity is climbing to the top of the bestsellers list with his new brand-new book "Deliver Us From Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Liberalism, and Despotism." Earlier, I asked Sean how he wrote the book.

HANNITY: You know, I did it a little unconventionally. I didn't want to write another book after the last one. You and I have discussed this. It is hard work. The entire book came to me in about a one-hour period, including the title, chapter titles, the ideas. [Later]

VAN SUSTEREN: Don't forget to pick up your own copy of Sean's new book, "Deliver Us From Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Liberalism and Despotism."

Van Susteren on "Hannity & Colmes," (Fox) Aug. 25, 2003:

HANNITY: By the way, Greta, congratulations. Greta's book is out tomorrow.

COLMES: That's right. And she's here this week in New York to promote it. And you'll be on our show either tomorrow or the next night, right?

VAN SUSTEREN: You guys are great. I'll come on any time. Thank you both very much.

HANNITY: All right. We look forward to it. Congratulations.

[Greta also appeared on Alan Colmes' Fox radio show on Aug. 29.]

Alan Colmes on "The O'Reilly Factor," (Fox) Oct. 22, 2003:

O'REILLY: Now one of the reasons that your book is interesting is because there are so many smear and defamatory books ...

COLMES: That's right.

O'REILLY: ... from the left that are out right now. Yours isn't. Yours is just dopey. No, it's not.


O'REILLY: All right. All right. Alan Colmes, "Red, White and Liberal." There's no defamation, no character assassinations.

COLMES: I know you have a team of lawyers, and I didn't want to go there.

O'REILLY: Yes. You don't certainly want to get me riled up.

COLMES: Right. Never.

O'REILLY: You'd never get on this program.

COLMES: Never. Never. And, you know, everything is geared to me getting on "The Factor," so ...

O'REILLY: That's right. Nobody watches your show.

COLMES: Hey, hey, hey!

O'REILLY: There you go! Alan Colmes, everybody! Buy his book.

Bill O'Reilly on "Hannity & Colmes," (Fox) Sept. 28, 2000:

HANNITY: We're joined in studio by our good friend Bill O'Reilly. His new book, "The O'Reilly Factor: The Good, the Bad, and the Completely Ridiculous in American Life."

I don't know if this will help your book or hurt it, but I read it cover to cover, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a quick read, it's a good read, it's a lot of fun, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I could have done without the chapter "O'Reilly on Sex."

Hannity interviewed by Alan Colmes on "Hannity & Colmes," (Fox) on Feb. 16, 2004:

COLMES: His first book, "Let Freedom Ring," was a New York Times bestseller. His new book is sure to be a success, already doing well on Amazon.com. Joining us for a HANNITY & COLMES exclusive -- how did we get him -- the author of "Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism and Liberalism," my co-host and friend, Sean Hannity.


COLMES: We disagree about who's doing the politicizing here, but we will continue the debate on the other side.

And by the way, we'll tell you where you can see Sean if you're around the country, going on a multi-city tour.

Colmes interviewed by Sean Hannity on "Hannity & Colmes" (Fox) on Oct. 21, 2003:

HANNITY: Look. One of the things I like about your book, I mean this sincerely, is that, unlike other liberal books that are out there that are nothing but vicious attacks.


HANNITY: You know what? Yours is about your ideas.


HANNITY: By the way, go buy the book. It's in bookstores everywhere.

By Scott Lamb

Scott Lamb is a senior editor at BuzzFeed.com.

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