How often do you see headlines that you just don't really believe? Yesterday when I saw the first headline float across my computer screen regarding Tim Russert's death, I simply thought it wasn't true. My father was about a year older than Russert when he passed away unexpectedly and pretty suddenly a few years back. I hope that in this difficult time his immediate family can take some solace in the fact that they spent some of Tim's last days together on a family vacation. Again, I see a similarity in that my own father was actually on vacation and had just seen my brother, met my brother's wife for the first time. These sorts of things can take a tragedy and soften the edges a bit (perhaps only a very little bit).
I like many have a leery eye for the mainstream media in America these days, whether I'm worried about consolidation of power among a few mega media corporations, or the oversimplification of sound-bite politics blended through the 24-hour cable news echo chamber. Russert, while imperfect like us all, truly was one of those voices who really managed to shake out of the talking points, the sound bites, and the oversimplification to bring us some meaningful news about the politics of our nation. I think he certainly presented the type of model political junkies and journalists alike should aspire to, being well informed and hard working, seeking understanding and meaning out of the bizarre circus that circles the mall down in Washington D.C. Sure he had what seemed like some gotcha moments, but over the years he offered great insight to many situations and had the sort of work ethic that gets you to the top of your game, where he certainly was this week when he left us.
I think anyone would agree, especially those of us who have lost someone around Tim Russert's age, that he has left us too soon. I hope that his family and friends will have the opportunity over the days to come to gather and celebrate a great man's life, and I truly wish them the best as they figure out how to come to terms with their loss.
Rest in Peace, L'il Russ.