“There are certain days when you can feel the air sucking out of Washington’s giant hot-air balloon, and Friday was one of them,” writes the N.Y. Times Mark Leibovich in a 6.15 piece about the news of the passing of Tim Russert.
“News of the Meet the Press host’s death moved entirely too fast, in that unnerving way that these things do in the viral media world, but especially here — the cycle of rumor to ‘did you hear?’ to confirmation (‘it’s online’) to disbelief lasted a matter of minutes. Riders on the D.C. Metro stared into their BlackBerrys, and every politician with access to e-mail was issuing statements, from the president on down.”
It was a whopper for me personally, I can tell you. Heartbreak for his friends, family and colleagues; a loss for the world of political TV coverage; a chill up the spine of every heavy-ish person out there over the age of 40. I felt for the MSNBC team yesterday during their marathon coverage. They were simultaneously reporting and dealing with their own private grief. They couldn’t see any way around not covering it as an all-day, stop-the-presses, death-of-JFK event. They didn’t want to turn it off, and probably couldn’t have if they had a change of heart.
That said, there’s this little voice stating that I understand and respect the rules that govern the observance of the death of anyone famous, particularly one as beloved as Tim Russert, which is that you may not talk about the circumstances that may have caused his life to end and whether or not it could have been prevented or at least delayed.
Type in the words “cholesteral plaque enlarged heart” and tell me what it gradually tells you. I’ve done a little reading for 20 minutes or so, and — I’m saying this as plainly and respectfully as I can — it just doesn’t seem as if a tree just uprooted itself and fell on the guy.