Friday, June 13, 2008

The Shock of Losing Tim Russert

Working as I do inside the Washington beltway, where the political news by which we're surrounded (and inundated) every day often doesn't surprise us (after all, so many crazy things have happened in this city that for those of us who work in the political world, nothing surprises us anymore), it takes big news to shock us.

Just a short while ago, we got such news, and it blasted through this city like a lightning bolt: Tim Russert had died.

I loved watching Russert work. Growing up with such folks as Harry Reasoner, Walter Cronkite, Howard K. Smith, and Frank Reynolds, it always seemed that the folks best-suited to deliver the news to us were ones who would attend the high-class parties to which we never got an invitation. Russert was different; he was the grassroots guy you'd see at the bar, mingling with everyday folks (and here in Washington, lots of people had a chance to see Russert out and about) and talking football and politics. He was the guy who came across as someone you'd want to be your buddy -- not because he was famous, but because he seemed like a genuinely fun guy to spend time with.

For political junkies like me, he had a true talent for making politics even more exciting -- asking the questions we always wish we could have asked but never had a chance, sticking it to the officials that deserved it, but always treating everyone with fairness and respect. He loved his job, he loved politics (especially during election season, when he could pull out his famous dry erase board and calculate electoral votes), and he loved this city.

Above all else, though, he loved his family. If you need proof, I highly recommend you read Big Russ and Me, which is one of the best grandfather-father-son books out there.

Tim, you'll be missed. Sunday morning politics will never be the same.


rdl said...

I can't believe it - what a shame. I personally will miss him this election.

Dave said...

As the reality of Russert's loss sinks in, I can't help but reassess the impact he's had on shaping the contemporary political discourse in this country. Hearing all the tributes spoken about him as I tuned in the news throughout the evening put his achievements and role in vivid perspective. Just one example of that is how I have absolutely no idea who would be an adequate replacement for filling his seat on Meet The Press. There are certainly other people who can and do something pretty much the same as what he does - but nobody on NBC's roster seems to have what it takes to maintain MTP's status as the premier political stage on Sunday mornings. They all seem like "niche players" who each had their spot in orbit around the central figure of Tim Russert.

How his loss will affect the course of this campaign is difficult to envision, but it will be diminished by his absence. And it's a true shame that he won't be around to see and comment on what happens from here on out.

Kansas Bob said...

I don't think that I missed any of the shows this weekend- Today Show, Matthews, MTP, TR, Dateline and Morning Joe all had long tributes to Tim.. I think that I know more about him than about some of my friends :)

I will miss Tim's enthusiastic approach to political news.