I once came within hailing distance of Tim Russert, at the October 2000 Presidential Debate held at Wake Forest University. I wanted to approach him but there were too many network techs between he and I. Not wanting to come off like a small market spaz, I strung cable around his NBC booth all morning with only a few stolen glances. I wish now I'd broken protocol and found a way to shake his hand, for he was one of the few political analysts I could ever stomach. His affable manner and habit of skewering blowhards from either party always, Always held my attention. He also seemed devoid of the bluster that mars so many personalities in my business; he was refreshingly rumpled in an era where on-air talent is measured by the cheekbone. In short, he made proud to be a broadcaster. Not many people I can say that about. We in the media tend to lionize our fallen- but in Tim Russert's case, it's well deserved. Tributes are pouring in, of course, from network honchos and heads of state. For me, though, Mr. Richter says it best.
"There is something intangible about broadcast journalists like Russert. Something that you can't quite put your finger on. Something about them, and how the represent themselves, and information on the air, that makes them magical to watch. Tim was a favorite of mine. His presence on NBC, during the controversial election of 2000. His dogged perseverance on the air, during broadcasts that would last for hours. His perfect balance of objectivity and nuance ... Tim was one of the good guys, in what I consider to be a dark era in journalism ... The general election at the end of the year won't be the same without Tim Russert. And I'm sad he won't be at the helm, guiding me the viewer, through the chaos of it all. 58 is too young to die. Tim deserved to live longer. And we would have been blessed to have him on the air for another year, let alone twenty."Tim Russert, 1950-2008