Building a Shrine to Tim Russert, Literally

Remember how your mother always warned you to wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident? Apparently, if you’re a famous journalist, you should also make sure your desk is tidy. In a new exhibit, the Newseum will be reassembling longtime “Meet the Press” moderator Tim Russert’s old office in the NBC Washington Bureau to look exactly as it did the day he died of a heart attack a little over a year ago. Is Miss Havisham the new curator or something?

The re-creation will include the Buffalo Bills pennants, books, Uncle Sam figurines, autographed baseball collection, and the wooden “Thou Shalt Not Whine” sign that Russert displayed in his office along with a pile of newspapers, magazines and other “journalist’s clutter” that littered his desk that day.

I’m not sure what stage of grief it is considered when the bereaved insist on leaving the deceased’s belongings untouched and frozen in time, and no disrespect to the Russert family, but that’s creepy. Even NBC News President Steve Capus got a little freaked out.

“When I saw the mock-up of what it was going to look like, it literally gave me chills,” he said. “You know, I felt like we were right back in those wonderful days when Tim was still with us.”

It’s all a little mortifying, too. Would Tim Russert want his life memorialized in a diorama that invades his privacy, more or less?

Not that my workspace will be in the Newseum anytime soon, but the whole thing makes me want to clean up my cubicle…

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Alexandra Fenwick is an assistant editor at CJR.