Kurtz: Russert Was A Top Political Analyst Of His Generation

Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat that was understandably heavy on Tim Russert tributes and analysis. Some excerpts:

Richmond, Va.: Tim Russert will be missed in so many ways. I went my first Sunday morning without him, and missed him terribly. Will NBC keep “Meet the Press” in its present format? It seems like such a hard decision. If they keep the name, the new person will be, perhaps “unfairily” compared (and who would take that on anyway?). Do you think they will have another politics show but under a different name?

Howard Kurtz: There’s no question that NBC will keep “Meet the Press” is something resembling its current format. It is, after 60 years, the longest-running news show on television. Russert always described himself as a temporary custodian of the franchise established by Lawrence Spivak. Obviously, whoever inherits the franchise will tweak it in some ways, but it will still be “Meet the Press.”

Philadelphia: Don’t you think Tim Russert would be saying “enough is enough” with the coverage of his death? What do you think the parents and spouses of fallen soldiers are thinking?

Howard Kurtz: I do think he would be saying enough is enough. Obviously the only nonstop coverage is on MSNBC, but lots of people want a chance to weigh in. Since it happened late Friday, I notice a few columnists and bloggers sharing their thoughts today.

Rochester, N.Y.: Where would you place Tim Russert in the pantheon of great journalists, present and past? And is it true, as I’ve heard rumored, that he may be beatified by the Catholic Church?

Howard Kurtz: No clue about that, although he did meet the last two Popes, so maybe he has an in. I’d say he was one of the top political analysts of his generation.

Charlottesville, Va.: While I didn’t always agree with his opinions or interview choices, I always admired Russert for his genuine enthusiasm for the topic of politics. A lot of talking heads on TV seem much more interested in themselves than the subject matter at hand. Tim seemed unique in not following that trend. Is he the last of a breed, or are there others still out there with that almost contagious love of their craft

Howard Kurtz: I think you’ve hit on something. I know the endless tributes seem over the top to some people. Journalists tend to get overpraised when they pass, because it’s journalists who do the praising. But I do think Russert was different in that lots of ordinary people — not political junkies or Washington types — related to him as the working-class kid from Buffalo, the Bills fan, the good-humored guy who took his questions seriously but not himself. All kinds of friends and neighbors who don’t care much about politics are telling me how much they loved Russert. I confess that I’m surprised how deep a chord he struck with much of the public.