I have watched today as Fox News and MSNBC have devoted considerable time to coverage of Mr. Snow's death, which is understandable. And, at least this time, the cable news channels are not dropping coverage of other important world news, but I am waiting for coverage of the death of another important person, one who probably had a greater impact on more people's lives than either Mr. Russert or Mr. Snow.
This was the beginning of Bloomberg's account of the death of pioneering heart surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey:
Michael DeBakey, the Texas cardiovascular surgeon who developed heart-bypass procedures that improved the lives of millions of patients and prolonged life for others, died yesterday in Houston of natural causes.
He died at age 99, two years and five months after himself becoming among the world's oldest survivor of an operation he had devised, Baylor College of Medicine and The Methodist Hospital confirmed in a statement.
During seven decades, DeBakey's advances helped prevent heart attacks and strokes as he developed surgical methods that later became widespread. He also designed dozens of medical devices, such as the heart pump, and trained thousands of surgeons, mostly at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, which posted a memorial of DeBakey on the home page of its Web site.
``It can easily be argued that no other figure in the history of 20th century cardiovascular surgery has had such a widespread impact on advances in the field,'' wrote New Jersey cardiologist Allen B. Weisse in a 2002 book, ``Heart to Heart.'' In 2005 the Journal of the American Medical Association called DeBakey the ``Father of Modern Cardiovascular Surgery,'' a label also promoted by Baylor on its Web site.
Of course, Mr. Snow and Mr. Russert were still quite prominent in the public eye and because of that, both were better known than Dr. DeBakey, but when it comes to overall impact, this man played a key role in countless lives, even though most people have never heard of him.
The media's job is not only to inform, but to educate. When the media lets the passing of someone like Michael DeBakey go with little recognition, while offering hour after hour of coverage to media personalities (and that is not to put down either Mr. Russert or Mr. Snow, both deserve to be recognized for their work), they are failing in the educational aspect of their jobs.
Michael DeBakey was never a media star. His job was not publicizing those who save lives, his job was saving lives. You would think that would merit more than just a backpage obituary.