Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert

My Sunday mornings will never be the same again.

Tim Russert, NBC journalist and host of Meet the Press, died yesterday of an apparent heart attack while at work.

It is hard for me to describe what Russert meant to me. I've been heard to remark that Russert served a pastoral role in my life. That may sound strange, but he had the rare ability to digest large hunks of information and interpret what he had learned in a fair and insightful manner. He helped me make sense of the world.

I watched his Sunday morning program every time I could. When he appeared on other NBC programming, I turned up the volume instinctively.

Russert grew up, as I did, in a blue collar working family. His father, "Big Russ (about whom he wrote his best-selling book) labored for years as a sanitation worker in Buffalo, New York. No doubt, Russert inherited his breakneck work ethic from his dad.

Shortly after his death I heard James Carville, one of his best friends, describe Russert's approach to life as that of "childlike excitement." Whether it was the Wizards, the Nationals, the Bills, his son--Luke, his family, his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., or a visit from the Pope, this hard-nosed journalist engaged life with joy, exuberance and fairness.

Renowned theologian Karl Barth is reported to have said on more than one occasion that Christians should approach life with "a Bible in one hand and the morning newspaper in the other."

Russert, a devout Catholic, lived that code.

He helped me understand things.

As I say, Sunday mornings will never be the same for me.

Thanks for your help, Mr. Russert. You will be missed. The void will be enormous in the morning.



Frank Bellizzi said...

Russert was so very good at what he did. And he made it look easy.

Justin said...

amen to this. Russert has been a part of my Sunday mornings since I was in Kindergarten. Tomorrow will be strange no doubt.

Jeremy Gregg said...

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Mr. Russert when I was a journalism student at American Univeristy in Washington, D.C. He was one of the most engaging and authentic people I had ever met.

He spent more than an hour one early morning with a room full of foggy-eyed undergrads trying to make sense of the world. At the time, I was a White House intern and the Lewinsky trial was in full swing... Russert shared some words on the subject that I am still kicking myself for not writing down, but which amounted to:

"These are the times in which our democracy is shaped, for better or worse, and we are all players in it."

Here was one of the most important journalists in the latter half of the century, and he had the humility to level himself with a gaggle of 20-somethings as a way of challenging us to take ourselves seriously as students, as thinkers, as leaders and as citizens.

He will be sorely missed, but his life gave us so much more than his death will ever be able to take away.

Larry Rogers said...

He would always ask the same questions that I wanted answered without being arrogant, rude or biased.

I wish other pundits knew how rare
this nature is in todays media.

J-Wild said...

He was absolutely the best. And what I think is great is that who he was as a person and father were talked about just as much as who he was as a professional.

He will be sorely missed.