Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tim Russert R.I.P.

Very shocking to hear about the passing of NBC's Tim Russert.

I haven't watched Meet the Press for years, but I used to, every single week. When I heard the sad news on Friday, one memory of the show bubbled up right away. The moment didn't feature an interview of a politician, or any guest for that matter. It was about his family.

As I recall it the moment happened on a Father's Day broadcast, probably from 1997 or '98. Right before the final sign-off, Tim Russert reached into his buttoned up suit, pulled out his tie and faced the camera. He beamed a smile a mile wide as he pointed to the tie and said:

"I want to point out that I am wearing the tie my boy gave me this morning. I said I would, and I am. I win the bet I had with my son about it. You owe me a hug, buddy, and I'm coming home to collect!"

That brought a big smile to me then, and it does again this morning, as introspection pulls it out of the shadows of memory.

One of the best things that can be said about a man, is that he tried to be a good father. I'm pleased to hear from the many personal remembrances filling the news this weekend, that Tim Russert seems to have been a good father.

Whenever faced with great loss, I try and turn my mind towards the great gains that preceeded it, so that gratitude can help mitigate grief. (I was lucky to have a good role model for this behavior: my Dad.) I hope Tim Russert's family can do that with the unexpected grief they face on this Father's Day; there will be no more hugs, so treasure the ones you did get.

In the memory born of that gratitude you'll find the comfort of a perpetual embrace.


Eowyn said...

Well said, Charles Henry, and thanks. In my shock and grief over losing one of the best journalists ever, it escaped me that it was Father's Day for his family as well. I had already called my Dad before reading this, but I'm calling him again after posting this to tell him once again how much he means to me. (Luckily, he lets me say it as often as I like.)

Tim Russert was a journalist everyone in the breed should model themselves after, and I know, being a former reporter/editor myself. People may not have agreed with his opinions, but you always knew which was opinion and which was journalistic integrity (i.e. fact-based) -- something rarely seen anymore. He was tough, and he was fair. We're all diminished by his loss.

Charles Henry said...

I agree with your assessment of Tim Russert as a journalist... he seemed like a genuinely honest and decent man, and as you say he was tough but fair, which seems a rare quality in US journalists on television these days.

All the years I watched him, everything he said and did on Meet the Press is pretty much a big blur for me... there were only two things he said in all those years that stayed with me. The first moment I wrote about in my post, the second one was from an anniversary show of some sort; in it he said that the best piece of advice he received on journalism, interviewing in particular, was from the reporter/host he replaced on MTP, Lawrence Spivak.

Russert quoted him as saying, "whatever side your guest is on, you be on the other side".

I think Tim Russert made it his duty to live up to that standard, which is why everyone seems to echo the "tough but fair" assessment of his work.

Eowyn said...

Yes. We will miss that courage to navigate, that he had, without fear. In the sea of ideas, he was the fisherman.

Bush pushing his own agenda? Here's what is being said. America ruling the world? Here's why it's not happening. Or why it's being seen that it might be.

Time and time again, this man put forward what needed to be thought about.

We will all miss him.