Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tim Russert (1950-2008)

By Charles Duffy.

Tim Russert died suddenly on Friday. The news stories of his death are already being pushed off of the front pages as other breaking news happens.

I did not know Mr. Russert although I met him once and he was kind to me then. From watching him on TV I could tell he was a person who was always well prepared and always gave his best. Those are qualities that I value greatly.

I read an interview that he gave a while back and two things he said have stayed with me. One was that he always reminded himself, while hosting Meet the Press, that his own views were not what was important. Unlike many political interviewers on TV these days, Mr. Russert was most concerned with presenting and highlighting the views of his guests.

Another thing that he said was that he did not "dislike any of the political figures that [he] interview[ed]." He was an ardent Democrat once who worked years ago for New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and New York Governor Mario Cuomo but yet he could still see the goodness and humanness in all of his guests, no matter which party they were from or what views they espoused.

Mr. Russert was not an Ivy-leaguer and he was not born on third base. He went to John Carroll University and was from a working class family in Buffalo. I loved when he would joke about the Buffalo Bills football team at the end of a Meet the Press Show after having just finished a tough interview on some consequential issue of the day. It would remind me that there is more to life than the serious side of things and also, that it is alright to embrace ones past and take pride in being from a place like Buffalo ... or Pittsburgh (where I'm from).

Also, his love for his father, which he wrote about in his book "Big Russ and Me," was a special thing. Hearing him talk about his Dad always triggered in me thoughts about how much I admired and loved my Dad, Roger F. Duffy, who passed away last year.

Tim Russert died way too young but he lived life to the fullest while he was alive and taught much through his work and actions.

Editor's Note: Charles Duffy is the host of Political Pulse, Montgomery County's premier political interview show.

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