Saturday, June 13, 2009

A year without Tim Russert

A year without Tim Russert is like -- or just is -- a year without good, meaty yet objective political discourse. Russert, I miss ya. And I bet a lot of other political junkies, pundits, and politicians do too. (Okay, maybe not the politicians so much, who were often nervous in your presence, though considered an appearance with you on "Meet the Press" an acid test, or proof they had arrived.)

It was a year ago today, June 13, 2008, when Tim Russert, the beloved and respected moderator of "Meet the Press" and head of NBC's Washington bureau died suddenly. I had just entered Washington, D.C., by car, when a friend texted me the news. And for the rest of the weekend, I was glued to the TV and/or radio, seeking information on Russert's untimely and unfortunate passing.

A political junkie since high school (who went on to receive a BA in Political Science from Hillary Clinton's alma mater and an MA in International Relations from the university where Barack Obama taught law), I made a beeline for the Newseum shortly after my arrival in D.C. and was greeted by floor-to-ceiling images of Tim Russert that had been erected overnight in the lobby. It was a bit overpowering, or overwhelming, as was Russert, but a fitting tribute to a man whom both Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, called friend -- or at least respected.

There was much talk in the coming weeks and months as to who would become the new moderator of "Meet the Press." (There was no replacing Russert.) The temporary assignment went to former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, who did a fine job. But he was no Russert. Then in December NBC announced David Gregory would take the reins as moderator of "Meet the Press."

While I like David Gregory, he is no Tim Russert. And I no longer sneak off to the gym or time my Sunday laundry to catch at least a half hour of "Meet the Press." Instead, if I happen to be near a TV around 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning, I flip between "Meet the Press," "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer, and "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

And it's not just Sunday mornings that are different since Russert's passing. Last year's historic presidential election, particularly the presidential debates, just weren't the same without Tim Russert there.

This Sunday on "Meet the Press with David Gregory," David Gregory will be interviewing Vice President Joe Biden. (An "exclusive," as they say in the biz.) I have no doubt it will be entertaining and informative, and that I will watch a few minutes. But I know as I watch that I will be thinking of Russert... and I bet a lot of other folks will be too.

R.I.P. Russert. You are missed.


larissa said...

J is not alone
There is no replacing Tim
Buffalo native

EMM said...

J, I'm with you...I don't have the same loyalty to Meet The Press. Regardless of the topic/guest, I watched because of the venerable Tim Russert.

Of course, he was a good Catholic boy from Buffalo. I'm from Rochester (a former good Catholic girl), so he was one of my peeps.

He's been in heaven long enough to hopefully have some pull come football season. Go Bills!