First Read: "What Would Russert Do?"

06/24/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Morning email blasts are hardly the stuff of throat-lumping sadness. Today, though, the usual missive in my inbox from NBC's First Read — long a favorite of ETP — was just that as Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro grappled with how to update politics junkies on the big story, when the only big story that mattered was the loss of their boss and mentor. They say it best, obviously:

*** Remembering Tim: The three of us here -- like so many other folks at NBC and across Washington -- idolized Tim Russert. We have a recent memory of him that for us means the world: Tim had Wizards-Cavs playoff tickets, and he invited us to come to the game with him. We leapt at the opportunity. The three of us are avid sports fans, but it was also a chance to hang out with our friend, our leader, and our mentor. Watching a game with him was exciting -- everyone was shouting out at him, thanking him for his work with Meet the Press, asking him who was going to win the Clinton-Obama contest, you name it. Watching him watch the game was a blast, too. He was just so excited to see the Wizards but also to see LeBron. He was one of those good sports fans who appreciated great play. But the highlight of the night was heading to the bar with him. We got to do what everyone this weekend said made Tim seem so real to folks that didn't know him: We got to have a beer him -- actually two. And we just BS'ed with the guy (mostly about hoops, not politics) as if we were buddies for a long time. It's what makes us feel so lucky that we had even a few private moments. The thing with Tim is that everyone in this bureau has similar memories of him.

*** WWRD: It doesn't feel right that we have to work today because, frankly, we worked for Tim. We wanted to impress him -- give him that nugget that would make say, "wow," and then immediately trigger an idea in his head for examining something in a way we hadn't thought of yet. So forgive us this week if we don't seem to have a lot to say. It's never going to be the same. One thing we do know is that What Would Russert Do will be guiding us, and many others as well.

WWRD - I think that would be a great and fitting recurring feature for First Read. I know I'd read it.

It's worth noting that the three acknowledge the near-constant focus on Russert on MSNBC and NBC News since Friday, as did NBC News president Steve Capus this morning on "Morning Joe." While there has been some griping, Capus said that the response from viewers (not to mention guests) has seemed overwhelmingly to favor hearing more about their lost colleague (even as he acknowledged that Tim would probably be telling them all to get back to work already). Here, Todd, Murray and Montanaro note that the focus hasn't actually been that misplaced since "everything seemed to have paused even on the campaign trail. Sure, there was an occasional email here or there that hit McCain or Obama, but one could sense that there was passion lacking in those email blasts." No doubt life and the campaign will return to normal in due time, but for now, at least, there's the point that no one actually missed anything with this coverage (the news of Russert's passing did come in the Friday afternoon news blind-spot, as Gawker pointed out, so it's not like any other story was pre-empted).

As for the news agenda being set by the Sunday morning shows — well, we all know how that went.

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