Today, NBC’s Tim Russert passed away. The cable networks spent much of the day chronicling Mr. Russert’s influence in political reporting. He was considered a giant in the field.
Most people know Tim as the host of NBC’s Meet the Press. This was the program that was considered to be the rite of passage for any serious national politician. Appearing in front of Tim became both feared, because his questions were always tough, and desired, because that gave any politician credibility.
I’ll have to admit that I’m not a big fan of Sunday Morning political programming. I’ve watched Meet the Press on occasion. I’ve always been impressed, however, on how well prepared he was. He was the master of finding quotes.
A few years ago, he wrote a book, The Big Russert, which described his own upbringing and how his father had influenced him. He wanted it to be a message to his son, Luke, that the world owes him nothing, but that he owes the world everything. He wanted his son to know that he was always loved, but that he had no entitlement to anything. Hard work was going to be the key to his son’s future.
It was even sadder to hear that Tim had just returned from a vacation to Europe to celebrate the graduation of his son from Boston College.
By all accounts, Tim Russert was a hard working journalist. He did his research and homework before every program. He was also a loving husband and father, and a great mentor for those around him. The cable news networks must have spent the entire day talking about Tim.
Of course, he was one of theirs, but it was surprising to see so much time being devoted to the death of a single individual when the world continues to be filled with news of the massive floods in the Midwest, a devastating earthquake in Japan, and the aftermath of the earthquake in China.
One of his friends said that Tim went from reporting news to becoming the news. His call of the Democratic race several weeks ago became headline materials.
In the midst of all the accolades showered to Mr. Russert, I am not entirely sure that news people becoming news would be something that he would have appreciated, given his humble background.
Perhaps he would just want to be remembered as Tim Russert, the consummate news man.