Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert, 1950-2008

When Katherine and I went to see Bruce Springsteen last year, we didn't know that we'd have a really nice encounter on the way out of the Verizon Center. Heading for the exit, the guy next to us said, "There's Tim Russert." And sure enough, it was.

I knew his face well, having become a politics junkie since moving to DC in 2002, but Kat had to be reminded, "Meet the Press."
"Oh yeah! Wow, he looks younger in person!"

We stepped up and said hello, then I said that this was Kat's first Bruce concert. He lit up with a huge grin and said, "My first was 30 years ago," or something to that effect. (I read later that he'd booked Bruce for a college concert for $2500 back in the day.) He asked if she enjoyed the show and Kat had a minute to talk with one of the most famous faces in TV news. She couldn't have been happier--being asked a question by Tim Russert? Out of this world.

We were at the Newseum yesterday evening and saw a page taped to one of the panels out in front. It was a picture of Mr. Russert with a note from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law alumni (his alma mater)... and it mentioned "the sad news." Naturally we assumed the worst and confirmed it by cellphone-delivered news a few minutes later.

It's a shock to lose someone who's so much a part of one's informational universe, especially so young. We met him for all of three minutes--and his gracious wife Maureen was there with him, together seeming so happy at seeing a terrific show--but he impressed us both deeply with his generosity, his friendliness, and his enthusiasm at sharing something (Bruce's music) which he clearly loved so much. We could not have had a better, finer moment with this icon of TV news and political coverage.

We've lost more than an exemplary television commentator and interviewer; we've lost a fine American.

Rest in peace, Mr. Russert, and our deepest condolences to your family, friends, associates and all those who looked to you as an authoritative, tough but fair-minded gentleman. You will be greatly missed.
Photo Alex Wong/Getty Images

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