Today, many political figures, political activists and mourners gathered to pay their final respects to Tim Russert, the lively commentator of the NBC Sunday morning political talk show, “Meet the Press.” In an outpouring of honor and respect, presidential candidates Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain along with dozens of other congressional leaders, television journalists and political pundits came together to say goodbye to an outstanding man.
“It is not easy to preach a homily for Tim and to communicate the feelings we all share concerning this remarkable man, for he was truly one of the great communicators in American society,” Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C., said in his homily.
In the wake of 58 year old Tim Russert’s untimely death on June 13, 2008, the NBC network was faced with having to say goodbye to a wonderful man and work to find his replacement soon…very soon. With the political climate being so intense right now in the journey to the White House, NBC will have the job of not only finding someone to replace Russert, but who can be as effective as he was in interacting with his guests. Many think that Russert cannot be replaced. Perhaps not. But, NBC will have to find someone who will not just pick up where Tim left off, but to add their own personality to the commentary and be half as effective as he was in delivering and discovering political news. The challenge that is before them is one for the new commentator and for NBC news. The political world will be watching and there won’t be a shortage of personal reviews on the selected candidate and NBC’s management.
NBC immediately used the media to establish that they were not interested in replacing Tim, at least not right away. Not true. What NBC has done through the media is to make a statement that they are not going to rush into replacing Tim right now, not while people are still grieving. Although that’s respectful of them, NBC has over $60 million in profits coming through the Meet the Press show and cannot afford to let the show go too long without a host. It simply would not be in the best financial interest of the company. However, to say that right now, amidst grief-stricken and surprised friends and family, would be crude and distasteful.
NBC has gone to great lengths to ensure that they place a tasteful, well-thought out statement to the general public regarding their feelings about Tim and the show. As a media company themselves, they fully understand the impact that a negative statement can have on their ratings and their network. Tim Russert was a long time prolific commentator, having hosted the Meet the Press show for well over 17 years. It is understood that great care is taken when dealing with a person that’s been around for that length of time. We can only hope that NBC will not only make the best choice and the right choice, but that they will also continue to make good judgment calls like they have when dealing with sensitive situations and circumstances. To say that they have acted professionally is accurate and commendable. It would be what Tim would have wanted. I’m sure he would be proud.
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