Tim Russert, Catholic – RIP

… what they know, you can learn. What you know, they’ll never understand.

That quote perfectly captures the advantage I’ve always felt coming a lower-middle class background.

Whenever someone passes unexpectedly, my thoughts run reflexively to my own mortality and then to my relationship with God. I take comfort in knowing that Mr Russert was a practicing Catholic. See the excerpt from an article regarding a commencement speech he gave in 2004.

In a speech emphasizing Catholic values, “Meet the Press” anchor Tim Russert told the Boston College class of 2004 yesterday that their Jesuit education is a special gift, and also called for measures to prevent clergy abuse of children. Russert, who described himself as “a respectful servant in the laity of the church,” also said the key to a meaningful life is understanding, “What is God’s work here on earth?”In his keynote speech, Russert described having a private audience with Pope John Paul II in 1985, to ask him to appear on the “Today” show. Russert said he forgot his concerns about NBC’s ratings and instead thought about “the prospect of salvation.”

“You heard this tough, no-nonsense hard-hitting moderator of `Meet the Press’ begin by saying, `Bless me Father!’ ” Russert said.

He gave the following career advice to Robert Costa:

I’d first met Russert that June, while interning for PBS’s “Charlie Rose” in New York. My important duties that day were to get Russert coffee and walk him out of the Bloomberg building after the taping. I told him I’d love to work on “Meet the Press.”

“You’re being too nice,” he said at the time, laughing. “Guys like you should want to host the show.” More seriously, he added, “Look, you just have to get out there and do it.” Russert took in the swarm of people on Lexington Avenue and asked “Where are you from, son?”

“Bucks County, Pennsylvania,” I said. Russert gestured to the people rushing by. “All of these folks,” he said, “don’t let them intimidate you. When I first started working for Pat Moynihan, I thought all of these Ivy League guys were ahead of me, that I could never catch up. Then Senator Moynihan took me aside one day, when I told him I didn’t think I had it in me to compete in the big leagues, and he said, ‘Tim, what they know, you can learn. What you know, they’ll never understand.'”

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About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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