Tim Russert came on the scene as a television journalist back when I was still very involved in Democratic Party politics on a daily basis. Russert became a Sunday staple that I turned to for insightful coverage of the political landscape and governmental issues as well. For those entrenched in politics, he was an essential. Indeed it can be said that he grew in such prominence that one could argue that to get to the White House, you have to go through Russert. You had to be baptized into the litany of Meet The Press guests that Russert grilled. When my wife called me at the office yesterday and told me of Russert's death I could hardly believe it. Both my wife and I each morning tune into Morning Joe on MSNBC as we are getting ready for work each morning. One of the highlights is always the visit by Russert and his most recent take on the presidential campaign. I said to Cathy upon hearing the news, "Oh my God, he won't be here for the election." Indeed, it already feel like election night will be hollow.
I realized as I have thought about his sudden departure that there are aspects of Tim Russert that I will miss that transend his political analysis. For one thing, no matter how serious Russert was on the air, their was a genuine upbeat and personable quality about him that you so seldom see. His smile and laughter were almost trademarks of every apperance he made.
For many who are perhaps not as old as I am, the image today of TV journalism is so very different from what Russert served up on Meet The Press. It was not about glitter, it was not for show. It was not entertainment news in the context that so much of Cable News has become. There was an integrity that he maintained throughout his career that you don't generally associate with TV journalism elsewere.
Russert was a tough interviewer, but he was always fair and always dignified in his interaction with guests. There were certainly times when an interviewer would hang himself, but Tim Russert never kicked the chair out from under him. He always was in search of truth wherever it might lead and he was always willing to give his guests the benefit of the doubt and allow them to explain anything they felt was necessary.
This Presidential election campaign has already been a historic one. It's an election unlike any we've had before and it just doesn't seem right that Tim Russert will not be calling the states on election night.