RIP Tim Russert

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June 15, 2008 by 8junebugs

I did not grow up a news junkie, a policy wonk. For a lot of years, my world was very, very small. Although it is true that all politics is local, I did not know why.

Tim Russert, more than any anchor, reporter, or analyst, showed me how to connect the dots. He didn’t assume that his viewers needed the dots connected for them, but he made it seem like anyone could learn to understand anything.

You can see why this would apeal to me.

What’s more, Russert was not the boring high school teacher making you read enough of the newspaper to clip something for a current events assignment. He made it look fun. The ready smile, the respect for everyone he interviewed, the way he seemed interested in EVERYthing… He showed his viewers far more than a pundit’s perspective on the latest story or scandal. He taught me that it was important to know what was going on around the world, and even more important to see what happened from as many angles as possible.

Meet the Press WAS Sunday mornings. It was the best of its kind, as was its host.

Listening to the memorial broadcasts that began on Friday, it’s clear that the jovial, intelligent man Russert was on television wasn’t a character or a role assumed to get a message across. People from all over the world have talked about how caring he was, how committed to his own family and to the families of his colleagues and friends. He sounds like someone I would have loved to know.

We don’t always think about the mark we make on the world as we’re making it, and I think most often we might wonder whether we will leave a legacy of any “real” significance. If you measure someone’s impact on the world by the gaping hole they leave when they’re gone, Russert was a giant among men, one mourned by a family, a profession, and a nation of people who felt like they knew him, whose lives were richer for his example.

God rest his formidable soul.

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