My heart bleeds today for the tragic loss of Tim Russert, moderator of Meet The Press and NBC's Washington Bureau Chief. I feel like someone punched my in the gut forty or fifty times - I respected, admired, was motivated by, and loved this man. For years I have told my students that the day Russert retired we were all massively screwed. I never imagined that we would lose him so prematurely. My sense is that we've lost a real spokesman for ethical, responsible, and objective journalism; a profession that is frequently at odds with those qualities. Tim asked the hard questions and did it with an ease and delicacy that seemed effortless. This civility and professionalism was not effortless however - it required untold hours of "homework" for every single broadcast. It also required something that was almost an uncanny skill for Tim - the ability to recall statistics and facts in a matter of milliseconds AND synthesize this information into MORE than just data. Every damn Sunday, I would tune in because Tim could take all the BULLSHIT from any given week and give you the straight scoop - cut through the drama and mediation of it all - and simply tell you the TRUTH. You never knew his politics, you never knew his own personal rhetoric or propaganda - you only knew that he would tell it like it is... Barbara Walters had mentioned while on the phone with Keith Olberman just after news of Tim's death, that "We" (meaning NBC, The White House, New York) are all in mourning for the loss of our friend, but she said also that the country will be massively hurt by this, that people so admired and loved him that the crater left by his absence will be monumental. She is SO right. So right. I, for one, will mis him in more ways than I can express in words.
Thank you Tim and Rest in Peace. You lived a beautiful life.