Friday, June 13, 2008

This Sunday will be strange _ Tim Russert, host of "Meet the Press", dead at age 58

Tim Russert, NBC News' Washington bureau chief and host of the channels "Meet the Press" died earlier this afternoon after a sudden heart attack. Russert was at work at the time and had just returned from a family vacation in Italy. The journalist and integral moderator of this election cycle was 58 years old.

Russert’s sudden passing is definitely a blow to the NBC News family, the sentiment echoed by both Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams this afternoon when the breaking story hit airwaves. Tim was a great moderator and presented a somewhat fair and balanced look at politics in this extremely divided climate. A Buffalo, NY native, Russert worked on various Democratic campaigns, including that of Mario Cuomo’s gubernatorial race before joining the news division over at NBC. He was a powerhouse and important figure in Washington, DC and in the coverage of American politics. Just this year, TIME named him one of the 100 Most Influential People and his write was provided by one time boss, Mario Cuomo himself. He was the host of "Meet the Press", a news program that hit its 60th year in production in 2007. Russert would meet with figure heads, pundits, candidates and others highly involved in the election cycle and process on this weekly program, that began to welcome my Sunday mornings a few years back.

Tim Russert passing had an odd effect on me mainly because he signifies a very important part of my life. See Russert was the commencement speaker at my graduation in 2003 from Purchase College in Purchase, NY. And what I can remember, it was a very nice speech, with a lot of emphasis on the future, keeping your eyes open, to not be afraid of doing the unexpected and testing limits. He referenced his own life and where he started from and where he was then. He requested us, the graduates, to get out there and investigate things around us and to not just take things, people, news, etc. at face value. 2003 was a big year for me in more ways than just graduating. I moved to New York City, became highly involve in politics and philanthropy and was able to participate in things I never dreamed of. Don’t get me wrong, Russert’s speech was not the guiding force behind the change, but I do remember his words and their power. And not to get too cheesy, but it is an incredible shame that someone with as much passion and interest in his daily work is no longer able to assist us in seeking out truth and never taking things at face value. There are many things in this world that act as signs for us and I do hope that a few people can take away from this sad story that it is never too late to do what you want to do.

My deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends. It is never easy losing someone you love, but it is even harder to lose them in the prime of their life, without notice. This Sunday will definitely be a bit strange.