11:30 Friday night, I did one last news check to learn Tim Russert had died. Were he in France I am sure the announcement would be Meet the Press to be broadcast from St. Peter’s office or the one in the title of this blog above.
He had been part of my Sundays (nights in Europe, mornings the few times I were in the States) and if I missed the broadcast, I would read the transcripts or pick up the videos on the internet.
The rest of the night I watched CNN talking about him. Although I felt like I knew him because of his mentions of Big Russ, his books, his “Go Bills” or his smile, I learned he was a lawyer and headed up the NBC news team, how many people had been the beneficiaries of his kindness that is beyond normal in this crazy world, how devout he was. That he never forgot his roots showed. Politicians said how deep he probed during an interview.
Wait a minute. What about all those Sundays I screamed at the TV to ask the next question (my daughter said if I kicked in the set, she would use my charge card to buy a giant plasma screen which saved the set), the transcripts I sent back to NBC with additional questions marked, knowing at least one person would see it.
I sent emails asking him to broaden the discourse. If the Cindy Sheehans, Robert Fisks, Robert Schreers, Howard Zinns, Taraq Alis, the winter soldiers, Jim Hightowers, and Scott Ritter s(to name a few) had been on as often as the Robert Doles (63 appearances), the social discourse of the United States might have widened beyond the narrow range we see.
Those politicians who thought he gave a hard interview obviously never faced Stephan Sacher or Tim Sebestian from the BBC.
Still, he was the closest thing the US had to a news interviewer (sorry Keith Olbermann, you do other broadcasts and please continue) who at least asked more than soft questions and a voice the US can ill afford to lose.