Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert: ‘Always Loved, Never Entitled’

Tributes are pouring in for legendary journalist, Tim Russert, who died today (13 June 2008).

Here are some of his qualities and quotes compiled in an American Profile (2006) by Beverly Keeler.

"I so admire Tim’s ability to weave his way through the political minefield of Washington," says Russert’s colleague Brian Williams, anchor of NBC Nightly News. "While on the air, he betrays no alliances and never violates a trust. He is as adept at political analysis as anyone in Washington. And he may know more of the players than any single media figure in the nation’s capital."

But it’s Russert’s roots in a working-class neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y., that make him stand out in the ultra-polished world of network television. With his straightforward, common-sense approach, the plain-spoken Russert defies the stereotype of smooth-talking TV personal-ities with perfectly coiffed hair. "His great gift is that he’s never forgotten where he’s from," Williams says. "Quite the contrary: He wears his Buffalo roots like a badge of honor, and well he should."

"When I talk about Social Security, I think about my mom and dad," Russert says. "When I talk about taxes, I think about my mom and dad and people in our neighborhood and my three sisters and their families. I think about a sense of right and wrong—you can look at things and say, ‘That just doesn’t feel right’—and a sense of accountability. I remember making mistakes and being held accountable, and that’s terribly important for a journalist to understand.

"But our job really is that of a watchdog and trying to hold our government accountable to its people," Russert says. "It’s easy for government officials to develop a sense of entitlement, and the one thing you learn in Buffalo growing up is that you are never, ever entitled. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t say to my son, ‘You are always, always loved, but you are never, never entitled.’"

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Tim Russert