Here are my thoughts on Tim Russert’s passing, which EaBo broke here yesterday.
Not that there’s ever a “good time” for an otherwise healthy 58-year-old to go, but Tim dying this election cycle is like Tim dying during a season in which his beloved Buffalo Bills would go on and finally win the Super Bowl. And as NBC’s Chuck Todd noted, this is Fathers’ Day weekend. Tim authored a best-selling book about his dad and was known around NBC as being a family person interested in everyone else’s kids and dads. CNN’s Campell Brown shares a similar story.
I’m very impressed with what news and political people are saying. These statements go far beyond the typical “we’re sorry for Maureen and Luke’s loss”. I know we can all get hyperbolic when speaking of the recently deceased, but I get the feeling that many of these statements are authentic and would be said in private if Tim were sill alive. CBS’s Bob Schieffer waxed:
Tim was the best of our profession. He asked the best questions and then he listened for the answer. We became very close friends over the years. He delighted in scooping me and I felt the same way when I scooped him. When you slipped one past ol’ Russert, you felt as though you had hit a home run off the best pitcher in the league. I just loved Tim and I will miss him more than I can say, and my heart goes out to his son, Luke, and his wife, Maureen.
Tim took criticism over the past year for stuff regarding the Libby trial and his moderating style at the Dem debates, and some of that criticism may be fair. But seeing on TV and in print what Russert’s colleagues are saying about the man and the journalist, it is crystal clear that America has lost a tenacious, eminently fair, respected, and admired political observer, questioner, and reporter. Furthermore, this is the year Tim would be most valuable to the national dialogue – damn. I’m a big fan of Keith Olbermann, but Olbermann’s a quality journalist who synthesizes too much op-ed with objective reporting to be as centered and grounded as Tim. There are too many Olbermanns and O’Reillys, too many play-it-safe Katie Courics, but there may never again be enough Tim Russerts. Objectivity may be a myth, but I think Tim was as about as objective as one gets on national TV news.
Jay-Z said “They never really miss you ’till you dead or you gone” and before that Joni Mitchell asked “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone?” I think between now and November we’ll really find out what America had with Tim Russert. I think even those who weren’t Russert fans have to acknowledge what Russert’s body of work brought to the table and recognize his direct and indirect influences in our epistemology of American politics.
America would have been well served if TIm Russert had survived until November. In this era of polarized coverage and analysis, I wonder who the next best thing is in objective political examination?