Friday, June 13, 2008


Your missionary to Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, Rob Schenck, reporting:

The big news here in Washington is the sudden death of journalistic luminary Tim Russert, NBC Washington bureau chief and host of Meet the Press. He was just 58 years old—seems so young to me now.

While I’m sure Tim was on the other side of me on many political and perhaps even moral issues, there were a few commendable facts known universally about him. In this town he enjoyed a rare reputation for loving his faith and his family above anything else.

I just heard Howard Fineman of Newsweek magazine musing on live television that if he’d ever consider converting from being Jewish to Catholic, it would be because of Tim Russert. “He was a great fisherman for his faith.” Even more impressive from Fineman was this, “Tim was the kind of guy who never pursued false gods, he pursued the real one.”


There is, in fact, endless commentary on Russert’s devout faith—and that’s saying a lot. Almost 90% of Washington journalists claim no religious affiliation or involvement. Russert was the opposite. He was faithful in his church attendance and was unashamed of it.

Perhaps the reason I feel as surprising as I do about this otherwise “mainline journalist” is because he was so “Buffalo.” As you may know, I grew up in Buffalo, as Tim did. Buffalo has a pronounced culture—a way of being. It wasn’t just his accent; it was his worldview and his values. He was down-to-earth and blue collar. Those are the people that filled my world back home.

Perhaps I’m getting caught up in the romance of the moment, but I feel saddened by this loss. Russert was sincere, warm, friendly and consummately civil. He was a true professional but didn’t seem overly impressed with himself. He loudly championed the family and quietly championed his Christian faith. Too bad we never heard anything from him on the sanctity of life because he lived life so well.

American journalism will be poorer for Tim Russert’s absence. My prayers go out to his wife, son and father—and to all those who loved him.

Rev. Rob Schenck
Faith and Action
109 2nd St, NE
Washington, DC 20002

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