I did not begin my time watching Tim Russert as a fan of his. The first few times I watched him on “Meet the Press”, I was not blown away. In fact, I was often left frustrated and aggravated with Mr. Russert and his questioning. But after a while I came to realize the brilliance of this incredibly important journalist who we may never replace.
I couldn’t figure out what is politics were. Sometimes he would grill people, and sometimes he wouldn’t. The now famous interview with David Duke showed a man who was the equivalent of a media pit bull, going after the gubernatorial candidate with such veracity and intelligence that Duke nearly melted on camera. But other times he would not confront people, instead allowing them to answer his questions and move along to other topics, whether they were telling the truth or not. I couldn’t figure it out, and it frustrated me.
But soon I started to realize that nearly every time a politician was caught in a lie or drastically changing his or her position the proof came from a past appearance on “Meet the Press”. Whenever someone was confronted with their own answers, it always seemed to be Russert’s voice that asked the question. They were on the record and the country benefited time and again from that record.
You see it wasn’t that Russert thought less of Duke then others, though he may very well have. He just wouldn’t stop until Duke had answered the questions so the state of Louisiana had the information it needed to make a critical decision. When others chose to answer more swiftly, whether Mr. Russert knew the answer was correct or incorrect, he simply let them answer and then would stand by and let history be the judge. He knew history was often a much more damning judge than any one man could ever be. Rather then confronting people with a personal and thinly veiled agenda, Tim Russert gave everyone an equal chance to pass or fail the nation’s test of integrity. He never made himself the judge. How few in the media can say that about themselves now?
So from a man who needed some time to appreciate you, I offer a most heartfelt “thank you” to the man who set the bar for all the rest of the media to be judged with. God go with you, Tim. You are an inspiration for all of us. Oh yeah, and “Go Bills!”
by David McBride of the American Public House Review