Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert, RIP

Today when I came back from lunch, my friend sent me a message: Did you hear about Tim Russert? My heart sank, as I knew it could not be good news. Tim Russert dies of Heart Attack at 58.

Although I am a political and news junkie, I do not watch or listen to many pundits. I do not like the preaching to the choir, the bickering, or the superficial news. However, every week I would download the 'Meet the Press' podcast because it seemed different. In addition to the great opening theme music that my friend Ben and I love so much, Tim Russert had everyone on his show, asking them difficult questions and most importantly, challenging them on their answers in a non-combative manner-- something we do not often see in news today. I remember how during the primary, he had all the Presidential candidates on his show- questioning everyone from Barack Obama to Ron Paul to Ralph Nader to John McCain in the same fair manner. It was incredible how great his questions were to such a diverse set of people.
“Lawrence Spivak, who founded ‘Meet the Press,’ told me before he died that the job of the host is to learn as much as you can about your guest’s positions and take the other side,” he said in a 2007 interview with Time magazine. “And to do that in a persistent and civil way. And that’s what I try to do every Sunday.” --Tim Russert [MSNBC]
Tim Russert certainly fulfilled this goal and had a tremendous impact on so many people. The lawyers in my office all talked about how sad this was, and many of my liberal and conservative friends' facebook statuses and gchat messages mourned this death. I even think this surpassed the number of people who talked about the Laker loss, which says a lot (or at least says a lot about who I hang out with). I knew a lot of my friends follow current events actively, but I was actually surprised about how many of them watched Meet the Press.

As so many of my friends said: Sundays just will not be the same.

I think one of the saddest parts is that this Sunday is Father's Day. In addition to being an award-winning journalist, all the news stories said that Tim Russert was also a great dad. Heck, he even has awards to prove it: In 1995, the National Father’s Day Committee named him “Father of the Year,” Parents magazine honored him as “Dream Dad” in 1998, and in 2001 the National Fatherhood Initiative also recognized him as Father of the Year. [MSNBC] Thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

As all the news stations pay tribute to Tim Russert with clips from his work and biographies, I hope that they also honor him by following in his approach to news.

[Photo courtsey of NYT]

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