Like millions of people in this country, I was shocked and saddened at the death of Tim Russert a few weeks ago. Thanks to the internet, I could watch every commentary, eulogy, montage, sound bite and gripping photo available. So many great things were said about this great journalist; here’s my contribution.
For my money, Tim Russert is the bespeak standard bearer. He embodied the three key principles we hold dear; he understood the importance of “being you” his focus was always unerringly turned 180°, and he was a practitioner, if not a believer, in the magic rule of threes.
Anyone who watched Meet the Press saw Tim Russert being Tim Russert. He ate politics for every meal, and it showed. He loved his Buffalo Bills. He was proud of his Jesuit upbringing. To paraphrase Popeye: “He was what he was.” We could connect with Russert because he was authentic. The sexiest journalist on TV? No. The most debonair? Suave? He didn’t have an ounce of “Je ne sais quois.” But he was wise enough, joyous enough, enthusiastic enough to simply be himself. He spoke, and we heard.
Russert made sure he was questioning his guests about the things we, the audience, cared about. He never tried to smarty pants it up; he talked in plain language, with lines of questioning that were easy for us to follow. Only once did I ever see him badger a guest about a question, (and at the moment, I can’t even remember who the guest was.) He simply asked the questions he knew we wanted answers to; and then he moved on.
As for the magic rule of threes? How about “Florida Florida Florida”. His white board, which is now displayed at the Smithsonian for all to see and admire, illustrated the most critical state in the now legendary 2000 election.
If you, like me, were a fan of Tim Russert; honor him by being the most you you can possibly be the next time you’re presenting. Remember to turn your focus 180° and fix it there. Oh yeah, and a little magic rule of threes probably wouldn’t hurt either.
In his words, “Go get ’em” – and be heard.