On Friday, television programming was full of mourning for Tim Russert. He died suddenly of a heart attack. People spoke well of him. Coworkers and competitors, politicians and the public, friends and followers.
As I watched, I heard over and over of outstanding integrity, his work ethic, his family and his faith. His laughter drew me to him. his concern for his dad and his son.
One thing that people consistently talked about was the impact of “Meet the Press” on the political landscape. It was, as some people said, “appointment television”. It was a must-see program for people who wanted to understand significant political issues.
As I watched all of these comments, I wished that I knew him, knew him better, knew more of him. He seems to have been a passionate, caring, thoughtful, brilliant person.
But I never saw him on “Meet the Press.”
In fact, as best I can remember, I have never seen “Meet the Press” or “Face the Nation”. When Charles Kuralt was doing “Sunday Morning” and then Charles Osgood, I seldom saw them, either.
For my whole life, I have had another appointment on Sunday mornings. I’ve been in church buildings for nearly three hours for 95% of the nearly 50 years of Sundays I’ve known.
I’m not lamenting that time allocation.
I am aware, however, that many people who could benefit from having a richer understanding of our political environment have seen a scheduling issue as a spiritual issue (“we have to give up some things for our faith.”) No wonder we are accused of being unaware, at best, those of us who are in Sunday morning groups.
And as I watched the coverage, I wondered what I had missed by not getting to know, at least by television, this thoughtful human being.