The famous American TV journalist, Tim Russert passed away last week. He used to be the long-standing host of the talk show ‘Meet the Press’ on NBC. He has been the face of the programme for the past 16 years. It was such an influential programme that president-elects had to make an appearance in it during the run-in to the elections.
I have seen only a handful of the programmes hosted by him, that too many many years ago. Yet, I remember how he made such a positive impact on me as a viewer. He was articulate, good-humoured, well-informed and conducted the interviews with such poise and grace. His questions were sharp but his manner was not rude. I was struck by the brevity of his words – his questions used to be to the point and precise. And he asked them without screaming or being sensational.
In an Oval Office interview with Russert for “Meet the Press” — his first television interview after announcing for reelection — President Bush faces hard questions on Iraq.
Russert: The night you took the country to war, March 17, you said this: “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.”
President Bush: Right.
Russert: That apparently is not the case.
President Bush: Correct.
Contrast this with our pushy, overbearing news anchors who not only ask a question (in a roundabout meandering manner) but provide an answer choice too (‘Why do you think your party lost the elections? Is it because of XYZ or ABC and do you think you can make a comeback?’). And some think being obnoxiously provocative is recipe for great television. You know who I have in mind, right?
Even though I have never met Tim Russert and saw his ‘work’ only a few times, that too many moons ago – the news of his death made me sad. I had come to respect and admire him. Some people leave a positive impact on others even through fleeting interactions – by the force of their personality, talent or attitude. For me, Tim was one such.