Tim Russert, the long time host of Meet the Press and the NBC Washington Bureau chief, died yesterday of a heart attack. I wanted to write something yesterday, but I couldn't quite find a coherent train of thought. Tim Russert had been the host of Meet the Press for nine years when he became known to a much larger audience on election night 2000. With his constant and prophetic refrain of "Florida, Florida, Florida" and his little white chalkboard, he became one the most recognizable faces in news. His opinion became so respected that when he called the Democratic race for Obama after the North Carolina and Indiana primaries, that in itself was treated as a news story.
I think, as we enter what may very well be one of the most important elections in American history, we will enter it without one of our most important tools. I don't mean to minimize Russert by equating him to a mere implement, however making an informed decision in the voting booth requires only one thing, information. And that was the tool that Russert helped to provide us with every Sunday morning. My Co-contributor, Sandy Jimenez, said that there are other people in journalism who are as smart as Russert, but there may not be another one who can make the topic of politics as interesting as Russert did. He was able to give his viewers not only knowledge, but also he was able to pass along his genuine enthusiasm for politics. He loved the game of politics as much as any movie, sports or trivia buff loves their interests and his gift was in being able to get his audience to share in his excitement.
In watching Russert on Sunday mornings, the thing that stood out for me was his amazing preparation for every interview. His style was simple and straight forward, be prepared and never be afraid to ask the tough question. I have no idea who is going to fill his shoes on Sunday, but I would be amazed if they are able to find someone as competent and frankly as entertaining as he was. So as we enter this last phase of this election cycle, I think that we are going miss Tim Russert more than we realize. We the people, who knew him only through the image that was projected on our TV's and the information he provided us through his commentary and on Meet the Press every Sunday morning, move forward without perhaps the last truly impartial voice in media . For those who knew him, I know the wound is much deeper and much more personal and I can only pass along my deepest condolences to his friends and family. We the people will grieve as well for what we have lost. Rest in peace, Tim and thanks for everything.