NPR logo Open Thread: Tim Russert's Death and the Media


Open Thread: Tim Russert's Death and the Media

Today on the show, we talked to Slate's Jack Shafer about the coverage of Tim Russert's death. Shafer criticized the media response in a recent Slate piece, "The Canonization of Saint Russert."

"I wonder whether the media grievers gave a moment of thought to how this Russert torrent they produced played with viewers and readers. Did the grievers really think Russert was so important, so vital to the nation's course, and such an elevated human being that he deserved hour upon hour of tribute? I wonder whether any of the responsible journalists paused to think, Hey, this is really weird. We're using our unchecked editorial power to soak the nation with our tears about our friend, and that's unseemly! On days like this, I, too, hate the press."

UPDATE: NBC News President Steve Capus talks to TVNewser about the criticism of NBC's coverage.

"I think it's been appropriate, balanced, loving. With all due respect, nobody can expect NBC to be objective. Tim had a remarkable, unique place in America. I can't think of anyone in our industry who would generate those type of intense feelings."



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What is the matter with this country?
He was a great man with great values!!!!!!!!!!! Something we all need to get back within us. I think this country has gotten to greedy and cold. By you talking about questioning this says it all. Maybe you should look back at his life and see the man you could possibly become!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sent by Diane | 8:51 AM | 6-19-2008

I took Tim Russert's death a lot harder than I would have imagined - and it had nothing to do with the media coverage (many of whom seemed genuinely surprised at the public response). He was a lover of politics who worked without an agenda. He approached his work with honesty and integrity - he was not a pretty boy or a failed politician who got into political analysis because he couldn't do anything else. I always knew when Russert spoke, I could believe what he said, and that's rare. He's really going to be missed in the upcoming race for the White House.

Sent by Ann V. | 9:28 AM | 6-19-2008

I am so disgusted by this particular segment, I cannot believe you would even posit this question to the public---the people who loved and adored this great man for doing what all of us could not, which was holding politicians and policy makers accountable for their words and actions. Mr. Russert worked tirelessly on behalf of all of us. For your program to take his life and the "cathartic" coverage of his friends, colleagues, and loved ones, for a frivolous, meaningless segment is heartless and just as guilty of the very thing you are criticizing. In this world, filled with misery, uncertainty, fear, violence, and abuse, people need more than ever a REMINDER of what exactly matters in this world...the way in which one lives their life, and how one affects those around them. SO WHAT!...NBC devotes a few days to a man we all loved. Who cares if they choose to focus on the human behind the tv anchor, as opposed to the career...I DO. And so do countless of others...

Sent by linda yun | 9:29 AM | 6-19-2008

Thanks to Diane, Ann V., and Linda Yun for providing a sample of the type of criticism found on Slate regarding their coverage of Russert, then the coverage of the coverage of Russert. Give him all the credit you want, the coverage has been more than excessive, and the criticism of Slate and Shafer has been puzzling, to say the least. This is the culture of the memorial t-shirt and the teddy bear shrine, not sincere respect and measured regret at an untimely death (with all due respect to the posters above). I just don't see how one could "adore" Tim Russert. Admire, respect, enjoy: yes. Adore: no.

Sent by Marc Naimark | 9:41 AM | 6-19-2008

I think he definitely deserves some type of tribute, but not five hours after he passed away and then, the following 3 days -- I think they should have allowed for some space b/w his passing and when they talked about him. How could anyone be ready to report on a friend's death only hours after it happened? It was very strange. Just over the top. If they had given it more time, they would have set it apart from all of the other news-worthy stories that get drilled into the ground.

Sent by Bethany | 9:45 AM | 6-19-2008

I too am saddened that the media is being blamed for putting too much emphasis and time on the passing of Tim Russert. If you didnt want to watch it then you didnt have too. I believe this was a great man with great ideals and that this world is a much better place because he was here. He made a difference in alot of people lives including my own. He made me aware of the politicians he got me involved, he made my voice heard and for that I will always be grateful. He put others first which in this day and age seems to be fading forever. So for those of you that see the media and saying that he was not deserving of this time must have not known him or maybe you just cant understand how much this man touched all of us including myself. I feel sorry for you you really missed out! I will miss you Tim Russert and I will strive to live my life in a way that makes me a better person because of you. To your family I am sorry for you loss and my prayers are with you. May the time you did have with Tim get you thru this most difficult journey.

Sent by Nancerini | 9:45 AM | 6-19-2008

I think it's been covered the way it has because of the "shock" factor and it honestly showed that people really liked this guy and his enthusiasm. Having something that you like being taken away through death is difficult. I would say people from all walks of life and economics background who own a T.V. and was somewhat in this country current events or happenings, kind of was familiar with him. I talked with a friend of mine in another state and they said exactly what an earlier post stated that they took it harder than they thought that they would and they didn't know him either. Please keep in mind that "Meet the Press" was garning huge numbers for a political talk show Number #1. Somebody was watching him.

Sent by DMAX | 9:50 AM | 6-19-2008

OK. I've now listened to the interview, and am even more surprised at those who criticize this segment. How is it offensive to point out the inordinate attention from the media for this death? Or the fact that news organizations failed in covering his life by setting aside some important parts of his career?

And another thing that shocks me: Russert is being held up as some sort of model human being. Are there no other great men and women in your local community to honor? Is there such a paucity of goodness in your world that you have to build this man up as a paragon, whatever his qualities?

Sent by Marc Naimark | 9:55 AM | 6-19-2008

we should all hope that when we pass on we are remembered with such respect, love, and admiration as he will be.

Sent by molly | 10:39 AM | 6-19-2008

Wow! Ya know what? It'll all be over in another day. Life goes on and people forget. Is it too much to ask that we review the life of such a good person? I suppose it would be acceptable if it were some stupid celebrity from Hollywood that we were watching. Even you answer that question as no, I still think that Tim Russert was worth this time we've spent watching over the last few days. There's not many around that would receive the love and respect that this man did, including Jack Shafer. Who are you? NO one knows you.

Sent by Lou | 10:43 AM | 6-19-2008

This is probably the most disconnected criticism of the Tim Russert media coverage... but I am personally put off by the pensive piano music that this and so many other news programs use as a contemplative segue between news headlines. I first noticed this phenomenon as a student at Virginia Tech directly after the April.16 shootings; every time I heard the sad drawn out network-tunes I knew it was time to turn down/off the media drivel watering down an otherwise meaningful moment of compassionate reflection. No offence (not just picking on you guys) ... I love the show and I generally enjoy the musical interludes, but if we as media consumers are going to absorb a barrage of negativity for every time the world takes one on the chin can we at least mix up the funeral march every once in a while. Personally, when I go.. play 'Free Bird'.

Sent by Micah J. Briehl | 10:58 AM | 6-19-2008

Tim Russert was a role model for media. His life should be celebrated as a holiday and memorialized in the mind of every American. If only more news reporters had his authenticity, courage and tallent. The news might be worth watching...

Sent by Brad Garbus | 11:14 AM | 6-19-2008

your guest said

"he was good at what he does"

with how few people in washington are good at what they do, that makes him not powerful, but important.

Because other than the NewsHour on PBS, his show was the only place where you were held to what you said, regardless of party.

and the death of that is frighteningly powerful

Sent by jacob | 11:23 AM | 6-19-2008

I agree with Ms. Kenney's post and with Mr. Shafer's point of view. And my reason for doing so has nothing to do with Mr. Russert, who was an extraordinary human being and incredibly authentic man. It has EVERYTHING to do with this nation's media and their narcissistic and egocentric nature. You can read more about my musings on this topic at

Sent by Ed L. | 11:25 AM | 6-19-2008

Well, a lot of media people loved and respected Russert, so it's kind of natural that their personal grief might blur the boundary between "heartfelt" and "excessive". Also consider how suddenly it happened. He wasn't sick or anything, just gone like that. Seeing a friend go like that is pretty disturbing and people are probably reacting to the memento mori as much as anything else. The only difference between this and the kind of sainthood that most dead people enjoy upon passing is that it is very public.

That being said, it was very sad to lose Russert. He seemed like the last civilized person in TV politics and his show was always a great source of insightful coverage. Who cares if they're going a little overboard praising his legacy? it's still sad that he's gone, and the above commenter is right- it'll be over in a day or so. At least he doesn't have a commemorative Beanie Baby (yet).

Sent by Max Headroom | 11:28 AM | 6-19-2008

NBC didn't do this for the critics, they did it for the fans that adored and admired Tim. I believe that NBC, MSNBC and CNBC rightly chose to honor the memory of Tim Russert with the coverage they've given his death. Tim was a GIANT in the industry, unlike the critics of this coverage who will probably be remembered for the contempt they expressed for the same. The thing to remember is that the critics don't speak for everyone.

Sent by Andy in Texas | 11:34 AM | 6-19-2008

My only criticism of NPR is that they spend a little too much time criticizing other media outlets. Maybe the Russert coverage was a little too extensive, maybe not. Does it warrant a segment on an NPR show every time mainstream media goes overboard? Focus on reporting the news. That's what makes NPR great, not reporting on poor reporting.

Sent by Adam | 11:41 AM | 6-19-2008

"It has EVERYTHING to do with this nation's media and their narcissistic and egocentric nature. You can read more about my musings on this topic at"

...did you seriously just use a complaint about media narcissism to plug your blog?!

Sent by Max Headroom | 11:44 AM | 6-19-2008

There are not many left with Tim Russert's high moral values, his deep faith, his loyalty to his family and friends, his love for this country and his pure honesty. By having these wonderful tributes to this MAN, maybe, just maybe, there is hope for this country that others might follow in his footsteps. This Shafer guy mentioned that this coverage was more than what it would be for senators. Yes, that is correct, because there is not one senator I can think of who has led this exemplary life that Tim did and he did did it with total humility. My family loves him and will miss him terribly.

Sent by rogers | 11:57 AM | 6-19-2008

Maybe the coverage on NBC's cable outlet, MSNBC, is a bit more than usual. Then again, it's a death in the family, and I'm not going to tell someone how long they are allowed to grieve.

I don't think that coverage on other media outlets was more usual. Besides, "Meet the Press" became the gold standard in political interviews thanks largely to Russert. It's important to recognize the contributions he's made to the genre, and whoever takes over (I deleted "replace" because that's not possible) for Russert will have large shoes to fill.

Sent by Matthew C. Scallon | 12:11 PM | 6-19-2008


I was indeed saddened by Tim Russert's passing. As Americans, he simplified and ethically positioned us to understand our political system and to think about issues that were not general topics of conversation. Did not his colleagues learn something else in this celebration of his life...perhaps to be a little bit better in their work? I listen to you all through many of your outlets...maybe you will change for the better now, did you learn something?

The coverage was exactly was I expected..a decent human being who was loved by many set examples for us to say, "Hmmm, could I be a better person today and make a difference.' Let go of your egos...they are inhibitions that prevent kindness and humanity of heartful generosity. Listen to the messages from the broadcasts and from the funeral, learn from them and put them into practice. Should we not honor others who inspire us...maybe this will become the wave of the American way of celebrating good and kind ways of life? I already know about the ones who are clog up my meedia head are who are troubling in their life as they are en route to jail or therapy. I cannot connect the dots on why this could ever be of interest; such troubled souls!

We want to be kinder and gentler in our better than to view and participate in the media journalism of Tim's passing. What formula do you have to guage too much? Is it the public thirst for more...for more of Tim? I am very tired of ugly bantering and smug "gottcha" in journalism and in life. Did you not all hear the words from Mike B...."Tim was authentic..." Is that not what we wnt to be, comfortable with ourselves and giving kind random acts of kindness and lead as authentic leaders?

Think of your selfishness...I was humbled to remember my roots, my kind and decent parents, my Catholic and Benedictine education and how I nurse the sick as a registered nurse.

I appreciated the broadcasts and funeral coverage. I took the lessons from listening to this everyday man who truly made a difference. Put aside your selfish mentality...think deeply, this human being is not a saint...he is a everyday person who lived the gift of life...he laughed, sent his kindess through thoughtful notes and telephone does not take a millionaire nor a lot of money to do that. It took Tim's time and kindness to radiate where the need was the greatest; I learned from his examples. I was glued to the TV set and the internet...thank you, I needed your comfort and support. But most of all, I needed to remember my gift of life and what I can do to make today and multiple tomorrows better for the best is yet to come.

Yes, your air gave me the time to reflect and shame on those who still inthe exuberance of one man's passing still shake the ugly thoughts of the ego that was selfishly bruided...after all, it was about Tim and not you.

Godspeed, we all needed this coverage once again to remond us of who we are and why we are on earth at this time. I believe the public dictated the work we wanted you to do in your journalism jobs...tell us more of Tim! He was, after all, our Sunday morning invited weekly guest. I am glad I could live through these days in thoughtful remembrance of Tima nd his family and friends as my way of improving to be a better person.

Sent by Terry R in Massachusetts | 12:28 PM | 6-19-2008

Tim Russert signified one of the last bastions of decency left in this country. I've been glued to my television set to learn as much about this man as possible. Watching the past five days play out gave me a great deal of hope in humanity, and learning more about Tim Russert just makes me want to be a better person. We live in an ugly, violent and cynical society and if he recieved more coverage than senators or other dignitaries it was because of the way he lived his life, which was exemplary. He deserved this recognition.

Sent by Janice Petrozzi | 12:32 PM | 6-19-2008

So I guess what you're saying is that when, god forbid, Dan Schorr or Carl Kassell dies, NPR isn't going to mention it.

Sent by Stewart | 12:39 PM | 6-19-2008

Of course the media over did it. The media over does everything. But, Meet the Press did not. It served us well. And, Tim Russert -- you were one helluva guy and I will miss you. Thank you, sir, for your service. And, thank you for your heart.

Sent by Patty Kennedy | 12:51 PM | 6-19-2008

This would be a great place for media navel gazing (off air please).

Tim Russert's death was way overblown. He received more coverage than the death of Jim McKay (influential sportscaster), Cyd Charisse (influencial moviestar), Bo Diddley (influencial musician), & Yves Saint Laurent (influencial designer) to name a few just this year ( If those people got any media coverage, it was over in a day or less than a one page blurb--maybe a paragraph, NOT segment after segment after segment.

Not to pick on NPR, but other than headlines, most NPR programs don't duplicate segments, yet everybody did something for Russert. Important figure-yes; surprise death-yes; worth completly blowing format--no.

Sent by Anthony Hunt | 1:40 PM | 6-19-2008

It took the coverage from Friday until Wednesday afternoon, while watching the Memorial service for Tim Russert, for me to realize that this coverage was for all his coworkers who were startled and found themselves lost when their leader was gone; for all the viewers and lovers of politics to realize Meet The Press was never going to be the same; for all those friends who befriended Tim in all the sports he participated in; for all the Catholics, especially those who grew up in 'the schools', who felt that Tim was a brother whose light shone publicly guiding us all to privately keep our ships on course; for his family who will miss him every time they breathe; and for every single person who is grasping for a 'way to be' because they weren't fortunate enough to have been taught by Sister Lucille and a loving family HOW to be a person, a father,a husband, a son, a co-worker,a boss, and a friend. We learned how to 'play fair' at work, to think of others, DO for others anytime we see a breaking heart or soul or body; how to say Thank you; how to choose to do what is right and love what doing right does for your life. We saw what it means to give anyone the time of day; a second of time for a condolence, an appreciation, praise, friendship and love; to send that card when a hand on the shoulder isn't possible; to smile when you just might not feel like smiling, but smiling anyway because you are counting your blessings and touching unknown people with warmth and hope instead of woes; and yes, it took from Friday through Wednesday's coverage for all that to affect my heart, and I hoped then that perhaps others were quicker to learn Tim's lessons. Then I thanked NBC for recognizing and sharing what we all had lost--the coverage of his life and his death had indeed wrapped a rainbow around our hearts and our country.

Sent by Carole | 1:43 PM | 6-19-2008

While I have noticed that the coverage of his death has been quite prolific, I think it's in poor taste to say "Come on guys, that's enough". However spurious you think the relationship between a lower-tier personality and Tim Russert, who are you to say that they shouldn't be allowed to pay him tribute?

No matter how unncessary you find each tribute, it's a small thing to change the channel and allow everyone to grieve in their own way.

Sent by Greg | 1:43 PM | 6-19-2008

This coverage was wayyyyyyyy too much. He was a TV news man. Period. NBC ought to be ashamed of itself for its exploitive coverage of his death.

Congrats to the BPP for having the journalistic will to say aloud what so many people have said amongst themselves. This was self-indulgent claptrap at its worst.

We have a hideous, unnecessary war in which thousands of young men and women die needlessly and NBC says not a word about them.

Thanks to BPP for creating some perspective. Tim Russert was only a news man and he died. My heart goes out to his family, especially for NBC exploiting its grief.

Sent by David Hollis, Hamilton, NY | 2:17 PM | 6-19-2008

Obituaries for celebrities are written in advance. Perhaps Tim was never considered a celebrity, no obituary prepared, and thus all the media community was caught with their pants down, crying over Tim, or their embarrassment?

Sent by Jeff | 2:19 PM | 6-19-2008

Come on, give me a break! How much was Nicole Smith's passing jammed down our throats? Here's a guy who deserved a respectful and lengthy goodbye, who touched our lives and whose affect on politics cannot be understated. He touched me way more than any senator or president ever did, and I'm glad they covered it to the hilt. It was a shock to many of us, and for those of us who are sad and still in disbelief, it was fine. To those of you who think it was too much, turn the channel and stop your whining!

Sent by Judith | 2:27 PM | 6-19-2008

It's crazy to complain about too much coverage for Tim Russert. Let people admire the guy. He earned it. Not all journalists and news people would get the same coverage he did. He was loved. I believe it's a waste of time to try to take that away from him.

Sent by Missy | 2:31 PM | 6-19-2008



Sent by NANCY TENNANT | 2:43 PM | 6-19-2008

Jack Shafer's comments just demonstrate why Tim Russert is, and will continue to be sorely missed. I watched about four hours of coverage last night and couldn't get enough. Not to wallow in the loss, but rather to celebrate an extremely bright guy who clearly loved family, country, and politics - in that order. Tim Russert, I believe, would have "gotten" right away why there was such an outpouring of grief. The fact that most journalists are befuddled by the public reaction to Tim's passing and that he was truly (nearly) universally loved, simply shows, to paraphrase a unloved right-winger, that "they just don't get it." As such, Mr. shafer's comments reinforce the sense that Tim Russert's insights were unique and he will not be replaced anytime soon. The public outpouring of grief is not related to his Washington insider status, it is related to his genuine patriotistm, his intellect, his loyalty, his enthusiasm, and a general sense that everyone one of us would have been genuinely thrilled to have this man over the house for dinner, preferably on Sunday afternoon so we could discuss that morning's Meet the Press show before settling in to watch football with him. He will be missed for a long, long time.

Sent by Bill Spizuoco | 2:47 PM | 6-19-2008

Walter Cronkite once said, "News is in newpapers. Television news supplements the papers." The Wall Street Journal and New York Times had exactly the right amount of information on this matter. Television needs film, pathos, and "stories." The coverage was perfect for television "news." Ut was also a weekend of little solid news anyway so nothing was ignored for this story.

Sent by Alan Bloom | 2:57 PM | 6-19-2008

Tim Russert's passing is a blow to our country AND the press. I can't imagine how many citizens of our country would've NEVER considered watching a show like "Meet the Press" had it not been for a journalist with integrity and ambition like Mr. Russert. He provided valuable news and noteworthy interviews (with people that actually matter in our political and economic universe) in a country where E! News, People Magazine, Inside Edition, US Weekly, MTV News, OK Magazine,, and Entertainment Tonight create so-called breaking stories out of celebufrauds that have no talent of any kind! I challenge all of you who are "musing" on the ego of the press to ask yourself where many people in this country get their news. It would be a blessing to find another talent like Mr. Russert who has enough respect to garner the attention of the masses - attention that was rightly deserved throughout his career and is rightly deserved in his death. Attacking the coverage of the death of a man like Mr. Russert in an age of "Britney Watch", "Baby Bump Updates" and other celebufraud scandals is ludicrous. I will not be listening to the BPP anymore.

Sent by Jennifer | 2:57 PM | 6-19-2008

Mr. Shafer,

The positing of your comments (an intellectual excercise? snarkiness? certainly a shallow journalistic question at best) immediately knocks you down a few hundred pegs below the level of Mr. Russert. It is absolutely appropriate for the public and the press that knew him well to honor a man of obvious integrity. His passion to do good during his lifetime was manifest in his substantive public service as a thinker, integrator, and communicator. He was a bright light. It is shameful that you wanted to dim the wattage.

Sent by K Garrett | 3:10 PM | 6-19-2008

You know, after reading some of the more cold-blooded responses to the coverage of Russert's death, I don't feel so bad about those who criticize the level of coverage for the funerals for the Pope, Princess Diana, or President Reagan. I guess some people's attitudes are, "Yeah, okay. They're dead. That's a shame. Let's move on."

@Anthony Hunt, as to those deaths, within their respective communities there were and are long periods of mourning. Since most of NPR is dedicated to journalism, this was a death in the family. Everyone wanted to say kind words about the deceased, just as we do at someone's wake. It's not like Tom & Ray Magliozzi broke format.

Sent by Matthew C. Scallon | 3:24 PM | 6-19-2008

When I learned of Tim Russert's death on Friday afternoon, I nearly fell over in shock. I started crying, and I couldn't get words out. For someone I did not know in person, I was taken by the amount of sadness I felt. And the intensity of the sadness. I was happy with the coverage, it allowed us all to greive together. It allowed the people like me who watch him on tv every week or every day, and hang on his every word to know that how we saw was actually who he was. There was comfort in the stories. There was comfort in knowing he truely was a good man...he didn't just play one on tv. It was like any death in the family, we all came together to greive, to tell our stories and to say good bye. If coverage had been anything less, I don't think it would have been appropriate. MSNBC & NBC did a great job.
One last thing... to say Tim Russert was "good at his job" is the understatement of the year. He was the best.

Sent by Michelle Martin | 3:28 PM | 6-19-2008

There was too much coverage, when compared to all else going on in the world - then again, exactly the right amount of coverage for someone taken so suddenly, someone so important to the NBC family and viewers. The coverage hasn't been a corporate response, as in, focus-grouped and tested - it has been a real, human response from those at NBC, knowing that they had viewers who responded the same way. NBC and the other NBC-cable channels? They're private, commercial enterprises, not some public utility. I agree with those who say: watch it if you want, cry if you want, turn the channel if you want, think about other events in the world if you want - it's all a free choice.

Sent by Berky | 3:33 PM | 6-19-2008

I totally agree that there was an over saturation of news coverage of Tim Russert's death; it was an occasion to observe; but to canonize him was wrong. I objected to his reporting on Hillary Clinton's campaign; I didn't think he was fair to her; I think he was part of the national talking heads on TV and represented main stream media at its best-not necessarily a compliment. He represented a white working class male point of view-one of many in our diverse country. He was just another white male saying the same thing on national tv.

Sent by Sharlyne T. Palacio | 3:49 PM | 6-19-2008

you can probably count on one hand the number of people in the public domain who would be able to arouse such love and respect...which is not to say that each of us don't have our own private "tims" in our lives....and how sad that we don't have more beloved prominent people who know how to search for the truth without hostility. anyone's story that portrays real humanity and love deserves our full we aspire to be our best selves...especially on sunday mornings!

Sent by janet | 3:57 PM | 6-19-2008

Dear Mr. Scallion,

I was speaking of the news-talk programs like ME, ATC, Diane Rehm, Talk of the Nation, and Tell Me More, not the NPR entertainment programs Car Talk Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, or World Cafe. Thank you for allowing me to clarify.

Let me say that NPR does death better than any network. I salute every profile of every soldier killed in Iraq. I listen attentively to each tribute to each star I previously mentioned.

But, to hear ongoing tributes of Russert approaching sainthood were too much for me. Something is out-of-balance when he received more press coverage than former President's Ford and Nixon.

If the press felt a need to tribute members of the press as part of our "tribe," how about some features that look at the lives of the 13 reporters killed while gathering stories for news organizations around the world?

Sent by Anthony Hunt | 4:24 PM | 6-19-2008

I think you are an idiot. Tim Russert may not have had the title of a Senator or President, but he had more respect than many by the American viewers. Look at how many came out to pay respects, President Bush, President Clinton, John McCain, Barack Obama and Ethel Kennedy. You don't call this news??? Please. He was one of the few people in politics who was real and so smart too. Shame on you for questioning.

Sent by Karen | 4:44 PM | 6-19-2008

janet said: "you can probably count on one hand the number of people in the public domain who would be able to arouse such love and respect"

I would hope you could find more. But most of them didn't work in the TV business...

Sent by Marc Naimark | 5:01 PM | 6-19-2008

Wow... I'm a little surprised by some of the reactions I've read on this forum - to read some of these you would have thought that Tim Russert walked on water... I guess I never realized how popular the man was.

I suppose I'm in the same boat with Marc Naimark. I understand admiration (from what I knew of him, he seemed an honorable man) but alot of these responses sound more like hero-worship. Not that that's a bad thing necessarily, but I guess I just never realized he was deserving of it.

Regarding Jack Shafer's article: I didn't think it demeaned Tim Russert in any way. On the contrary it sounded like he admired the man. His criticism seemed to me to be based primarily at the media circus surrounding his death. Which to be honest doesn't seem overly distasteful to me... is it really wrong to question when is enough too much?

Sent by Dan | 5:21 PM | 6-19-2008

@janet: "you can probably count on one hand the number of people in the public domain who would be able to arouse such love and respect"

I can rarely predict what the public will react to, but I can come up with way more than this for myself (apologies in advance for any spelling mistakes):

Julian Crandall Hollick
Cokie Roberts
Susan Stamberg
Nina Totenberg
Daniel Zwerdling
Robert Krulwich
Cash Peters

Scott Adams
Robert Siegel
Michele Norris
Bob Edwards
Noah Adams
Leanne Hansen
Jim Lehrer
Terry Gross
Mike McGrath
Ira Glass
Peter Sagal
Tom & Ray

Dan Schorr
Kevin Phillips
Sandra Tsing Loh
Lucy Kellaway

Jon Stewart
Steven Colbert
Adam Felber

This may seem like a long list, but I've listened to these people for years and in many cases decades. While I have no illusion that I really know them, but I do know their untimely demise would affect me profoundly. (How selfish is that?) And in case you think I'm just mouthing at you -- one of the very few times I cried in my 20's was when John Ciardi died.

If any of you don't know who Julian Crandall Hollick is I highly recommend looking him up. The man does some of the most moving reporting I have ever heard.

Sent by Dave Wiley | 5:29 PM | 6-19-2008

Tim was special, unique, and different. Not many people out there like him. He also gave the commencement speech at my college graduation in 1997 at Loyola in Baltimore. I don't think too much has been said about him. He will be remembered...

Sent by Tim | 5:42 PM | 6-19-2008

Only people of lesser, more questionable, character would question honoring a man like Tim Russert. If the rest of you "journalists" had half the integrity of Mr. Russert, the country would be a much better place.

Sent by Carol Gleason | 6:40 PM | 6-19-2008

I like most, did not know Tim personaly only as a GREAT Newsman . He was the kind of person that everyone liked(or should have). Was his death covered to much? NO! I still have a hard time getting it clear in my head that he is gone; I have the same health problems that Tim had, yet I have had 2 Heart Attacks and can tell about it, I should have gone before him. But that was not God's plan! When he passed, it was a feeling as if a member of my family or close friend had died. God bless Tim Russert, God be with his wife and son. For you that think is to much, put a DVD in and go about your day (SHUT-UP) in other words. May your O-bit be full of type-o's (miss prints)!
Tim: You will be remembered!

Sent by John Morrisey - Ohio | 6:56 PM | 6-19-2008

He will certainly be remembered. Shame on NPR for posing this question to try to spark interest on their website. You end up defying everything Tim stood for. And I say this why? because I was a blue collar kid from Buffalo too. This is a great country. It's sad and pathetic that this medium, this internet thing, is so void of compassion and basic human integrity. So this is my first and last response on NPR. Never again will I take your information as being credible. You did this to take advantage of good people's emotions. Was it worth it? Two minutes of thread for a few bitter cynics to preach so that you can lose your entire creditability and respect? Because to me..the glass is half full. Go get em Timmy. Go get em.

Sent by JamesmWatt | 7:54 PM | 6-19-2008

Such a good man, so kind, thoughtful of others, great family man, discreet man of faith (I never knew he was Catholic - no need to know)so interested in his co-workers,no ego,supportive, enthusiastic sports fan - bottom line, name another TV personality that could even come close here - you can't do it. Maybe his passing will spur TV "educators" to do a better job? Let's hope so.

Sent by rosie | 8:22 PM | 6-19-2008

I think the coverage acted as catharsis for those of us (who didn't know Tim), who were very sad to see him die. I think it was about things way beyond Russerts role in Washington. I think it was about the tremendous respect and affection Russert was held in for his books, his demeanor and his attitude towards life, not just his role in Washington D.C. I, for one, did not feel it went overboard. I think it allowed many of us to share in the grieving. He was important!

Sent by Tami Griffin | 8:27 PM | 6-19-2008

Are YOU KIDDING ME!!! I can't believe what Shafer said...the people of this country needed closing and for the family to allow this closure to the public I thank you. I never met Tim, but watched Meet The Press every Sunday and I as well as many others were just devistated by this great loss. Shame on Shafer for his uncalled for comments.

Sent by LOIS M | 8:37 PM | 6-19-2008

@ Dave Wiley ... sorry your naivete is showing ..... Cokie Roberts is an ABC hack who never mentioned in all her reporting from Katrina that her father Rep Boggs was a member of the sleazy Louisiana Mafia that ripped off the people of New Orleans. Like Edwin Edwards and other crooked Dixiecrats who stole the money designated for repair of the levees. Whats this got to do with Tim Russert? I watched clips this week where he just gave criminals like Cheney a pass!! No mention of Jeff Gannon ,a male prostitute that all the Main Stream Media gave a pass to. I do believe that Daniel Shore is the kind of hero Russert could never aspire to be!!!!

Sent by Paul O'Curry | 9:04 PM | 6-19-2008


Sent by JACK MARKOWITZ | 9:58 PM | 6-19-2008

we are now left with the likes of Bill O'Reilly, Keith Olberman and Lou Dobbs for 'news' on cable. Compared to those guys and the other spineless 'journalists' on the Networks - a statue should be built in his honor. Thats what all the mourning is really about, the last true professional is gone.

Sent by Megan | 10:05 PM | 6-19-2008

I would much rather see extensive coverage of tributes to an honest, hardworking, faithful, loyal, genuine American than the hour after hour of coverage on the evils of this world with which we are usually bombarded. Those of us who respect love, faith, family, and true American patriotism wish there was more of the former and MUCH less of the latter. I doubt that "journalism" will be tainted by a time out for a real story about a real man and what he meant to all of us.

Sent by Janice Sutton | 11:12 PM | 6-19-2008

I think that, in this circumstance, NPR has followed down the path of other mainstream media that feel they must give air time to the "other" perspective on an issue in order to be "fair". Tim's death is really a tragedy for politics and journalism. Two professions that have the noblest aspirations in the hands of those that wish to be of service to a higher calling of truth, but are in a sad state of affair due the highjacking of the need for integrity and professionalism. If you didn't want to watch the coverage, change the channel...and thank God we live in a country where we still have those choices.

Sent by Katherine P | 11:52 PM | 6-19-2008

Tim Russert was one of the few people in the media who I respected, who I trusted. I felt side swiped by his death, felt a true sense of loss. I feel that NBC realized how much this man meant to so many of us and I feel honored thay they shared these events with us. Too much? Those who think so may well have to wonder how their death will impact this nation. Not much is my guess. Mr. Russert's death leaves a void. His was a life well lived. God Bless Tim Russert and give comfort to his family and friends. They are in many prayers and hearts tonight.

Sent by Sue | 12:15 AM | 6-20-2008


Sent by Marc Naimark | 6:36 AM | 6-20-2008

I'm surprised by the internal contradictions in the negative reactions to the Russert overkill pieces.

Some anti-Shaferers say "if you don't like it, change the channel". But they say it with such vehemence, one wonders why they don't just apply that response to themselves. If you don't like the comments on the overkill, change the channel, don't read the article, let it go.

They also talk about how good and kind Russert was, but are often quite nasty to Shafer.

It's a puzzle for me: why are there 11 pages of posts on Slate? Why over 60 comments here (OK, a lot are from me)?

No more for me though... I'm too busy mourning St Diana, patron saint of seat belts.

Sent by Marc Naimark | 6:47 AM | 6-20-2008

He was a man, who, im sure had faults. I hate to say this, but for all the news, commentary , and media that is watched here, none of us watched Meet the Press. Truthfully, i didnt know who the man was until he died. I kept asking co workers "who was he?" "what channel did he work for?" I was accosted for being, cruel, and un-informed. I was shocked at the energy of these insults. Mr. Russert was a talkin head on a politics program...not a preacher of spirtual things, yet hes being exaulted as one. I've heard 'great'things about him, but ya know..he was a mediator on a tv program...not writing legislation, or working for real change. Sure he asked questions and played devils advocate..that was his job. Why the overindulgent treatment of his death. For all we know, he kicked dogs, and hated lil kids. lol.

Sent by Inky | 7:15 AM | 6-20-2008

He was working for change, in his own way. Don't you see that? He was changing the face of news gathering, research, analysis, and interpretation without the fluff and fillers that other shows have. He was shooting for classy journalism......when he took over 18 yrs. ago, they were #3 in the ratings, that's why they were now in the # 1 position, in his timeslot. People could understand him and tuned in when he was on the air. That's how he changed things, making the viewer more well-informed. And God knows the American public needs it.

Sent by Lou | 9:25 AM | 6-20-2008

With 90% of the comments on this segment running in a positive, loving manner in honor of Mr. Russert, I am once again encouraged by the human race. Seeing the coverage of his death and memorial service also served to renew my faith in the human race. The unending coverage overwhelmed my emotions at times, but that's why we have remote controls, isn't it?

Tim Russert was loved and admired by so many. He represented the best of what America has to offer the world. I'm glad NBC made such a big deal of it.

And if anyone had any doubt about the man's greatness, it seems to me that God didn't. Did you see the Russert Rainbow? How many people get that kind of send-off?

Sent by C.J. Garrett | 10:44 AM | 6-20-2008

I think Mr. Russert's death was indeed a tragedy for many people who knew personally him and many who did not. The problem I have whenever one person's death consumes the media like his has is that there are tens of thousands of tragedies happening all over the world every day. An African child dies every 30 seconds because of Malaria (see for my source) . This is a curable, preventable disease, not some uncontrollable force. While Russert may have been a great man he was able to have 58 good years of life. I feel it is times like these where we can feel the pain of one death that we can truly comprehend the unimaginable pain suffered by too many in this world every day. I just wish these things could make it to the Situation Room and others like it more often.

Sent by Drew | 11:42 AM | 6-20-2008

Until reading this piece, it never occurred to me that the coverage of Tim Russert's death was overdone. From the first moment I heard of his death (on NPR) I was grateful for the coverage. His death was untimely...if he had been 85 instead of 58, the shock would have been less. And the shock of his death as well as the actual loss was what his media friends and loyal viewers were (are) working through. Yes, it was a public working through. Americans generally hold to a cultural value of grief being a private affair. I am glad that in this instance NBS/MSNBC chose to violate this cultural norm. Tim Russert was real to me. His loss is real to me. His loss is real to millions of Americans. The coverage acknowledged that reality.

Sent by lizzy jones | 12:07 PM | 6-20-2008

I appreciate the fact that Tim Russert was a good journalist and held politician's feet to the fire, but the coverage was too much.

I couldn't believe they showed the funeral, although I heard the family asked that they cover it, so maybe they felt obligated. Peter Jennings' death also received a lot of coverage, but not this much. I do think it was excessive.

Sent by Tom Grant | 1:08 PM | 6-20-2008

we are an odd lot...some are certain we have spent too much time on such a fine man as russert and they make lists of others who they say may be just as not the point and many of us may not even know them because we are not all so brilliant...and we spend resist speaking up about too little time spent by the media on continuing russert's desire to pay truthful attention to serious issues that affect our lives...

Sent by janet | 3:29 PM | 6-20-2008

It is ironic that this view is showcased on Bryant Park, flagship of the latest version of new journalism. Are there still only three sources of news which we rely upon to show us the proper proportions of importance of things?

Who gets to tell Alison Stewart's baby that she is not newsy enough to bet talked about on air?

Sent by Mike | 4:49 PM | 6-20-2008

How many soldiers died in Iraq or Afghanistan the day Tim Russert died? The media didn't seem to care about those deaths and while Mr. Russert's death was sad for those who new him, the impact on my life and others watching the news is microscopic in comparison with a dozen other news stories that got passed up to talk about the life of some psuedo-celebrity.

Sent by Sick of It All | 11:32 AM | 6-21-2008

I see there are many faithful followers of the Tim Russert philosophy of life. In answer to the void that the loss of this great man has left in so many hearts and minds across our country, I am spearheading a new religious organization devoted to the memory of our hero, the Big T.R.

Being a natural medium to the spirit world, I have accepted the position as Supreme Enlightened One -- mediator to the ghost of Tim Russert. Tim wants, nay -- NEEDS -- your dollars to build a temple devoted to his glory... a beautiful building laced in bronze and black velveteen and at one end a 40 ft golden statue in his likeness. We, the Church of Tim Russert will congregate on Thursday mornings (Saturdays & Sundays were taken) to worship his memory and pray for his prophesied return. The first order of business, this Thursday, will be to work on our tax-exempt status in this country... once this is complete we can move on to the more import matters of Global Domination and psychological re-engineering of the non-believer.

A final caution to avoid the inevitable "false prophets", such as The Church of the NBC, who wish to cash in on the unfortunate loss of our hero. Be strong, brethren, and may the Russert be with you.

Sent by SEO, Church of Tim Russert | 9:36 AM | 6-23-2008