It's a staple of the 24-hour cable news networks to label any story they have video of as "breaking news". So, it was with little excitement that my wife and I waited after seeing the "special report" banner across the screen on MSNBC. When Tom Brokaw appeared on camera, we knew it was more than a flood or a car chase. His mournful tone immediately warned us that the news he brought was immensely sad. And, indeed, it was For long moments, after Tom Brokaw somberly broke the news of Tim Russert's sudden passing, neither of us spoke, at the risk of tears. We'd lost one of our own.
It might seem overly sentimental or emotional to some, but I feel a personal loss. Sunday morning meant no one bothered Papa from 9 till 10 cause "Tim Russert's talking". I felt like I could depend on Tim to ask the real questions, without an agenda, and, especially, with the grace that comes from knowing his stuff. I knew for certain that Tim would frame the question in such a way that the answer would be somethng I could understand and absorb. If you were a politician or public figure, and you weren't willing to plead your case in front of Tim, then, dammit, you didn't have a case. Stop wasting my time.
Often, skeptics like me resist the impulse to project images on public figures, but its without reservation that I can say that Tim Russert was a good father, a good son, and most importantly, a good man. And that's the greatest loss. For all of Tim's accomplishments, for all that he achieved, for all the recognition that he gained, the greatest heartbreak for me is that we lost a good man.