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Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Last Hour of Crying

About four minutes into the special tribute edition of “Meet the Press,” Tom Brokaw said this was a celebration of Tim Russert’s life and there would be no crying.

Nice try, Tom. I actually started crying from that moment and didn’t stop until the hour was over and I turned over to my beloved Bravo.

This entire weekend I’ve been in kind of a fog over the death of a man I never met. Maybe it’s because it’s Father’s Day and I feel so bad for his son because I know what it’s like to lose a parent. Maybe it’s because I read his book and I know how much his family meant to him. Maybe it’s because I feel like his life ended just before we needed him the most.

Whatever it is, I decided I needed to turn off the tributes and move on. The special edition of “Meet the Press” would be my last hour of crying.

And what an hour it was.

Tom Brokaw hosted a roundtable of some of Tim’s friends and colleagues: Gwen Ifill (PBS), historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, “MTP” Executive Producer Betsy Fischer, Mike Barnicle (NBC News), Maria Shriver, and political strategists James Carville and Mary Matalin.

They told wonderful stories, they showed great clips and, yes, they even cried—including Tom himself. But I think I was most touched by the shot of Carville and Matalin—the couple known for their heated debates on the show—holding hands. I have never understood how these two people who believe so strongly in such opposing views (She’s a Republican, he’s a Democrat.) could be married. But in that moment, I saw how as they were there for each other in their grief. It was a beautiful moment—and clearly the director agreed with me, because they cut back to that shot several times throughout the hour.

I have been incredibly impressed with the job the entire NBC News operation has done during this difficult time and this hour was a wonderful way to cap off the weekend of tributes.

It was also a great way for all of us to mourn a man we never met, but who we will truly miss.

You can see Tom’s intro to the program here. The entire hour of “Meet the Press” will be available online later today.

If you would like to express your condolences to the Russert family, you can do so here.