Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tim Russert

I was CBS News Washington bureau chief in 1988 when Tim Russert was appointed to the same position at NBC News. Soon I was promoted by CBS News and assigned to New York. I actually met Tim at a Sally Quinn/Ben Bradlee party in their Georgetown mansion. She said she was celebrating my promotion to New York and Tim's move to Washington. I offered to help Tim out when appropriate, considering I was at another network. I remember that twinkle in his eyes; his passion and enthusiasm for Washington and politics. His whole being lit up. He was in heaven.

A year or so later, I remember hearing Tim would take over as anchor of Meet The Press. Some in the industry were critical of the appointment by then NBC News President Michael Gartner, after all Tim had never anchored before. But Gartner had experienced first hand Tim's passion and enthusiasm, and recognized his great intelligence and work ethic.

Tim willed Meet The Press to become the most prominent and important venue for serious national dialog. He out booked, out thought, out analyzed, out prepared, out promoted and out hustled the competition. And he had great fun doing it! In Virgil's words, "fortune rewards the bold."

Tim was a wonderful husband, father and friend to all. He was a man of great faith and integrity. Tim never forgot where he came from and he lived every second of his life with boundless passion and enthusiasm.

Edward R. Murrow was an historic and transcendent figure in broadcast journalism. Fifty years later, Tim Russert is also such an historic and transcendent figure for journalism. Murrow inspired me to enter my profession, Tim inspired me to excel each and every day.

Now he is in heaven, but I have no doubt that his legacy will have an enduring impact well into the 21st century.

PS: As a practicing Catholic, I lit a candle in Tim's memory at mass this past Sunday. But at some point I couldn't help but think about what impact Tim could have in heaven. I imagined he could fill in from time to time for St. Peter? Think about that!

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