The simplest, most matter-of-fact approach is the best. That’s what I gleaned from watching Tim Russert on “Meet the Press” and his bits on the “Today Show.” I liked how he would ask his Sunday morning guests the same question until got an answer, like “Would you accept the vice-presidency if Senator Obama offered it to you?” There would be the hesitating of the guest, who would give some non-committal answer, and Tim would shoot back, “So you wouldn’t accept it, if he offered it to you?” He did that over and over again, on a whole range of topics, especially with the questions that really everyone was asking but no one could get an answer to. When he asked, you got the feeling that maybe this time, the politician will give a straight answer. And if Russert was left with a typically crooked response, he would call them on it.
Having been in TV newsrooms myself for the first fifteen years of my career, I know how close that environment can be, how closely everyone works with each other, and how important each member of the staff is professionally and most certainly, personally. It is most definitely like losing a member of your family.
Thank you, Tim Russert, for what you gave to America and to politics and to news gathering. God bless and heal your family, and God rest your soul.
PS. Mike Allen’s Playbook on politico.com has a good collection of Friday’s tributes to Russert from pundits and politicians alike. I urge you to check it out.