Whether I lived in the same city, or 3000 miles away in Washington, DC, one thing my dad and I always agreed on, Tim Russert was the best reporter on Sunday. I always nicknamed him, "Brother Tim," because of his monk like knowledge of the Political and Policy worlds.
On Friday, when the news came across the Nets that Mr. Russert died, I was very sad. Here was a man who moved up from his Blue Collar roots to work with the best the Democrats of the 70's have to offer: Governor Mario Cuomo and Senator Moynihan.
Eventually, Russert moved to Meet the Press where he became the longest serving Moderator. What made Russert a great reporter on Sunday mornings (and why the Nielson ratings for Washington, DC always put Meet the Press on top) was because, unlike modern reporters, he never became a supplicant to any politician. In 2002, Russert challenged Cheney on Iraq; In 2008, he challenged Senator Clinton on New York Drivers licenses.
He always made politicians of all stripes match their rhetoric. No one was immune. He was so successful at challenging Democrats, Arianna Huffington started a Russert Watch. Huffington did not understand that Russert was "Old School," and he did not care what letter was after a politicians name. And he never made it personal.
Godspeed, Brother Tim, Godspeed.
The Future of Meet the Press
Since I met the producer of Meet the Press at an Alumni function years ago back in DC, I want to mail this to her. I want NBC to know who should fll Russert's large shoes. (and what made them large? He was a humble guy who liked everybody). Now, who should follow?
One of the factors is that Meet the Press is an NBC made and produced show, it goes in-house. The next factor is someone who had experience in Politics and Policy, now whom?
1) Pete Williams - He has the background of Hill experience and a longtime reporter for NBC.
2) Jim Miklaszewski -- He is one of the most thorough reporters in the Pentagon. Though a press background, no one of any political stripe would deny his professionalism.
3) Lester Holt -- Again, news background but someone who is professional and every Political stripe can talk to.
4) Chuck Todd -- No one in DC goes anywhere without talking to Mr. Todd; Political and Policy experience and an NBC person.
5) Andrea Mitchell -- Understands Foreign and Domestic policy. Definitely worth a chance.
6) Joe Scarborough -- He is an anchor to MSNBC and was a former congressman from Florida. Actually provides a counterbalance to Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann. If either of these two latter people get the chair of Meet the Press, the value goes down. I vote NO.
Good luck staff of Meet the Press. Mourn wistfully, plan boldly, create imaginatively. America's future is in your hands.