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File photo of NBC talk show host Russert holding sign as he takes the stage at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton
Joe Skipper  /  Reuters
NBC political talk show host Tim Russert holds up sign as he takes the stage to serve as a questioner during the MSNBC Republican presidential debate at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida.
Image: Montgomery Meigs
By Military analyst
msnbc.com
updated 6/15/2008 10:47:24 AM ET 2008-06-15T14:47:24
COMMENTARY

How does one say farewell to a giant?  That’s right, Tim was a giant.  He made rumpled excellence a classic.  He did things with passion, skill, character and a gift for simplicity that his peers in the business could not match.

Tim was brilliant in a street-smart way.  Watching him working an issue on "Meet the Press" was magic.  First came the opening question backed up with an on-screen quotation from something the respondent had said.  Never caught up in the pursuit, Tim always listened to the answer. The appropriate, spontaneous second question followed. The method made bobbing and weaving by the guest, obvious. Tim surgically exposed skullduggery without being mean-spirited and always kept his balance. After three hours of coverage of the most uninspiring primary, he remained sharp, insightful, never sardonic.

Tim had the passion. His enthusiasm for the news, his preparation, and the force of his gut instinct made those of us who worked with him on air better in our supporting roles. He also made the most complex and knotty issues understandable. He had the gift of pulling the essential reality from a jumble of emotion and half-baked facts.

A kind and generous man, Tim demonstrated one of the hallmark traits of an inspirational leader. He made time for those of us learning the business. When you worked with him, he made you look good. A student of human nature, he knew how to inspire the troops with a personal touch or a moment of his time.

How does one say farewell to a giant? One can’t because the memory will not pass. You honor a Tim Russert by trying as we go forward to make the same footprints he would make were he with us.

Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs appeared as a guest on Meet the Press three times.

© 2013 msnbc.com Reprints

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