Sifting Garbage

We are such bad Washingtonians, maybe; my family’s newspaper of choice is the New York Times—and even then we only get the Sunday paper (rest of the week is online). Today, my wife asked about Tim Russert, who had a Q&A, “All About My Father“, in the Times Sunday Magazine. Conversation took place on the Capital Beltway somewhere between US 1 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

Tim is one of my favorite Washington journalists. He’s got a pragmatic style that rips through nonsense and gets to the point of the conversation or topic. When I worked as an editor more than a decade ago, my editor—great guy, Stephen Osmond—would repeatedly ask, “What’s the point?” Answering that question made me a better editor. In fact for years, a Post-It with the question hung over my work phone. 

Anyway, I’ve digressed from Tim to Steve. My wife read from the Q&A as we drove, explaining that Tim’s Dad was a retired garbage man (text used the more PC term “sanitation worker”). I thought for a moment and chuckled. For I could see that Tim had followed his dad’s profession: Sifting through garbage. A good interviewer, a good reporter sifts through nonsense and lies (that would be garbage and more garbage). Sometimes the garbage is sorted to reveal something valuable (true). Other times, the garbage is hauled away.

By the way, why did the Times interview someone talking about his father for Mother’s Day? Why not hold the interview for a month?

Photo Credit: Diane Lee