Thoughts on Tim Russert and Meet The Press

Like many people, I was caught off guard last Friday afternoon by the news of Tim Russert’s untimely death. Meet The Press has been a weekly mainstay for me for as long as I can remember – first on TV on Sunday, then by podcast Monday.

No yelling. No back-and-forth, tit-for-tat, superficial arguments. Even if I disagreed with a guest’s views, I’d still want to see the interview, because Russert engaged them in a substantive discussion, based his questioning on facts over agenda or ideology, and gave viewers a chance to understand how Washington works and make informed decisions.

And I always liked how, after an intense interview, Russert would bring things back down to earth by closing the show with small talk about the day’s football games and a plug for his beloved Buffalo Bills. Because at the end of the day, when the arguments are over, debates settled, and work done, it’s the pastimes like shared love of sports, music, and family that bring us together.

Yesterday morning, Russert’s son Luke was interviewed on the NBC Today show. Here’s somebody who just graduated college, celebrated with his family just a week ago, and now he has to wrestle with one of the hardest things that can happen in life – the loss of a parent.

Here’s the thing: he’s a spitting image of his father. He was every bit as confident, poised, and at ease on camera as his dad.

Luke spoke for 15 minutes about his dad with remarkable poise. He never lost his composure, not even when he was talking about being on the set of “Meet the Press” on Sunday and touching his dad’s empty chair — a moment captured in a moving photograph by The Associated Press.

“I’m going to keep that chair forever,” Luke told Lauer. “That’s my chair now.”

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