A Sad Weekend for News Junkies

A Sad Weekend for News Junkies

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Some folks are sports junkies. You know who they are. These are the folks constantly checking their phones for the latest scores. In an elevator or water cooler discussion, they can rattle off statistics on any player, team, game, or event.  Anytime they’re not working, they’ll be watching SportsCenter or whatever is on ESPN.  During the day, you may find them listening to sports talk radio in the background for the latest nugget of information about their favorite team or player. In the NYC metro area MSG, YES, 1050AM, and 660AM are vital portals of information to satisfy their urge for a quick sports fix.

The passion of sports fans around the world is undeniable.  For a few months each fall, during college football season*, I join them. But most of the year, my passion lies elsewhere.  I don’t write about politics here on this blog as it is very much off-topic.  However, I will share with you all that I am a political news junkie. It’s an addiction that’s quite similar to sports, yet I like to consider it more important since it involves keeping track of the folks who have a direct impact on the way we live.

*Note – Or when the NY Mets are in the playoffs.

When I pick-up any newspaper, I always skip directly to the Editorial/Op-Ed section first.  When stuck in the doctor’s waiting room, I always look for one of the news magazines like Newsweek or Business Week.  Morning radio in the car?  Yeah, the morning zoo is fun, but I’m more likely to have Newsradio 880 or Don Imus on. Time to head for a bike ride?  NPR’s On The Media podcast is on my Zune. 

Now, I’m not addicted to the point where I watch CSPAN, but the 24 hour news channels are usually the first thing I flip to whenever I turn on the TV.  Hardball, Olberman, Hannity, O’Reilly…  yeah, I watch them all.  Nothing on TV?  I’ll load up the Daily Show or Colbert Report on the DVR.

When it comes to politics, most of these are all about entertainment and humor. Watching folks like O’Reilly or Olberman bloviate their opinion from the left or right about the day’s news is just good unadulterated fun.  I’m sometimes embarrassed to admit I indulge.  But when I want to get serious information, I turn to the granddaddy of ‘em all:

MTP_TimRussertTim Russert and Meet The Press.

It was with great shock and sadness that I heard the news about Russert’s untimely passing on Friday. Ironically, I had just listened to the previous Sunday’s edition of Meet The Press on my Zune while biking the day before.  Meet the Press is absolutely one of my favorite news shows on television. Russert made it that way. 

“If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet The Press.”  Those are the words the show signs off with each Sunday.  I rarely watched MTP on Sunday mornings as it would draw strange looks from my wife, the same way other wives might roll their eyes at their husbands watching SportsCenter.  Sunday is usually family time at our house.  Typically, I’d watch or listen to the MTP podcast Monday mornings while biking or riding the train to work.

While many of the other cable news shows mentioned above are opinion-driven, Russert’s show was serious and usually straight down the middle. If you ever watched Russert, he would grill politicians on both sides of the aisle with equal tenacity. In an age of increasingly biased media, Russert stood out above the fray.  It was one of the best ways to learn more about the politicians who run our country.

Like most folks people watch on TV, I’ve never met Tim Russert.  But via many of the in-depth interviews & conversations he’d have in forums outside of MTP, like his appearances on Don Imus’s show, I felt like I knew him quite well. I felt saddened enough to watch much of the memorial coverage on the various NBC channels over the weekend, including the tribute that Tom Brokaw and others lead on MTP Sunday morning.

Over the weekend, all sorts of politicians and prominent folks in the media shared their stories about, and admiration of, Russert.  So many good things have been said about him, that there’s not much I could possibly add here.  However, I will share one thing that touched me.

In 2004, Russert wrote a book about the strong relationship between himself, his father, and his son.  That book was called “Big Russ and Me”.  I haven’t read the book yet, but it sounds like a touching memoir about the bonds between fathers and sons. It was painfully ironic that Russert’s death came on the weekend of Father’s Day.  On Sunday, a recording of Russert reading a passage from the book was played back on NBC.  The passage was in the form of a letter Russert had written to his own son about appreciating what you have and living life to the fullest.

Note: I’m looking for those words online so I can post them here, but have not been able to find them yet.  I will update this post when I do.

Having a father and two young sons of my own, I took those words to heart.  Outside of the sadness of Tim Russert’s passing, they provided a happy context of what it means to be a father, which was a perfect way to start off the celebration of Father’s Day with my boys.  Yesterday was just a quiet day of playing in the yard, riding bikes, and being together. None of us know when our time here will be up, but family days like yesterday will always be precious.

Thanks for those kind words Tim.  RIP.  Sundays will never be the same!

  • Tim will be missed, RIP friend :(

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