Saturday, June 14, 2008
A few thoughts about Tim Russert
The shocking news Friday of the death of NBC Washington bureau chief and Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert has brought a virtually unanimous outpouring of grief and praise. Much of the talk has centered around the obvious- his brilliant questioning of politicians and other newsmakers, his books about his father, Big Russ, and, of course, his use of a whiteboard to explain election news to viewers.
Despite his prominence on Meet the Press, my favorite Russert program was his weekly Saturday hour-long interview program which originally ran on CNBC and later moved to MSNBC. In that show, Russert often would spend an hour discussing substantive non-fiction books with the authors, something you don't see anywhere else except on C-Span II. I am going to miss him on that program as much as I will miss him on Meet the Press.
As a reporter who always loved the research aspects of the job, I appreciated the vast amount of preparation Russert put into his job. When he interviewed the authors for the Saturday program, it was obvious he had read the books. In the same way, when he politely, but firmly, grilled politicians on Meet the Press, I, like thousands of viewers, anticipated when he would confront them on something they had said that many times had been overlooked by other, less diligent, reporters.
The 2008 election will not be the same without Tim Russert.