I didn’t become aware of Russert until I was in college. I was taking a journalism class, and one of the requirements was that we watch Meet the Press each week and report on the subjects they talked about as if itwere news that we were writing a story on. Since I lived with a bunch of college kids who were kind of unreliable when it came to leaving the VCR set to record, I basically had to wake up early every Sunday morning (which would be hellish now, but seems unthinkable for a college man with an appreciation for booze), watch the show, take notes, then hit the sheets again until the afternoon.
Now, liberal-minded people like myself have pointed out the many times in this decade that Russert took Bush and crony talking points and repeated them on his show–but in my memory, Russert will always be the guy from my Sunday mornings in the nineties, the guy with the big head and the tough questions, who seemed polite to his guests while still asking probing questions that attempted to peel away the veneer of PR spin presented by, say, the Ken Starrs and Pat Buchanans who populated the news then. He really could make an interview about war preparations, campaign finance, and governmental procedure seem interesting. And Timmy cracked more than a few kernels of policy corn that I might otherwise not have understood or cared about.
In the end, Russert was both entertaining and informative, the best of what a talking head is supposed to be. And at only 58, he died way too young. For my YouTube tribute to the man, here he is, interviewing a journalist from the other end of the spectrum.