Gone But Not Forgotten

Ever since the death of Tim Russert last week, things have been in a state of High Solemn Reverence here inside the Beltway. ("How the hell did I end up here?" the blogger pauses to ask himself. And not for the first time, even today.)

Jon Swift chronicles for posterity the mood in our nation's capitol:

Universally acknowledged by Washington's elite to be one of the most important people who ever lived on Earth, if not the most important person, Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert was given a state funeral yesterday that rivaled the send-offs for such beloved and powerful men as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. The impact of Russert's death on humanity is only just beginning to be felt, but one of its most immediate and profound effects may be on the U.S. election.

Russert's friends and colleagues were understandably shocked by Russert's premature passing. If an overweight workaholic with diabetes and a history of coronary artery disease can suddenly die without warning, is any one of us safe? Many of the pundits and politicians who spoke at Russert's funeral and during the hours and hours and hours of cable news coverage must have been wondering, for the first time in their lives, Am I, too, mortal? Tom Brokaw has never looked so human.

Russert brought something to television journalism that had never been tried before. Instead of asking questions off the top of his head, he had his staff do research on his interviewees and actually used some of that research in his interviews. Many politicians had never been confronted with their own words before and his unique interview style caught many of them off guard, but it also gave them a chance to look good by showing that they could withstand tough questioning by giving vague, noncommittal answers. Unfortunately, Russert's shoes will be very hard to fill because while many television journalists do have staffs that have access to LEXIS/NEXIS, few of them know what follow-up questions to ask after an interviewee gives his boilerplate answer and will simply go on to another topic. Russert's ability to ask the same question over and over again using different words is one that has sadly died with him. He will be missed.

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June 19, 2008 12:27 PM | | Comments (2)

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2 Comments

Another remembrance.

The grotesquely overdone obsequies for Russert is just another reason to hate the MSM. Next time a talking head dies they should just cancel programming for a week and play somber classical music. We'll get the picture: Greatness that lingered among us for a heart-breakingly short time has passed on and we're poorer for it.

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