Ms. SHRIVER: Well, and I'm going to say when I speak today at the memorial that when I first came to NBC, I had just been fired by CBS.
So I came not knowing really anybody, and Tim came up, put his arm around me and said, `Look, we're both Irish Catholics. We're both educated by the nuns and the Jesuits. There aren't that many of us in this business. So if we stick together, we'll be fine.'
After the memorial service, honorary Irishman Howard Fineman rolled his eyes at the silly tale—and... blurted something out that normally never gets tattled:
FINEMAN (6/18/08): I had to laugh when Maria Shriver told the story about when she came to NBC and Tim went up to her and said we’re both Irish-Catholic and there are not many of us here so we got to stick together. At that time, NBC was run by Jack Welch at General Electric and Bob Wright. And so it’s basically a Holy Cross conspiracy, from what I can tell.
Under Welch, for whatever reason, NBC News increasingly became an East Coast Irish Catholic boys club.... Joe Klein alluded to something many people have noted; it was the Irish Catholic branch of the insider press corps which most completely lost its mind about Bill Clinton’s disturbing ten bl** j*b*.
I thought it was politically incorrect to talk about cultural stereotypes in public but after Tim Russert's death there was no end to the talk about Irish Catholics by media types on TV.
Here's Hardball with Chris Matthews
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I‘ll start with the religious piece tonight, and this a probably the one night we‘ll ever do it on HARDBALL—about religion, how if drives people....
There‘s something about maybe the way you and I and Pat were born that had this obsession with trying to find out the truth, to try to catch the bad guys...
MIKE BARNICLE: Tim‘s faith was rooted in him at home, at his kitchen table, by the nuns. And it was a faith that... imbued in him the idea to be respectful of others, that charity was a terrific thing.... to look out for those less fortunate than you, to be respectful of people.
.... he had such a love for the game, the profession of politics, he didn‘t come at it yelling. He didn‘t come at it disrespectful of the opposition person there or that person there. And he gave everyone a chance to answer the question.
He had an extraordinary ability that too many younger people... don‘t have the ability to listen that Tim had, and that is imbued, as you, Chris, know full well, and Pat, you know full well is imbued in you in parochial school because you better sit there and listen, or else you‘re going to get a rap of the ruler against the knuckles.
PAT BUCHANAN: Look, you and I and Mike and Tim were born in a time and a place that I think no longer really exists. I mean, we all went to parochial schools when they were 100 percent nuns... They were all Jesuits in high school, in college almost all Jesuits. And they did imbue in you certain certitudes, beliefs of right and wrong. They were hammered into you.
You got the religion every day. You got the religion every day in high school and you got theology three times a week, and philosophy and all that in college. And I think that creates a certain type a people. ... you‘re respectful. You were obedient.
MATTHEWS: Why do Irish Catholics make some great cops, such great Prosecutors? Michael, I mean, they are. .....They were born to it, to try to catch the bad guys, but also, as prosecutors, to try to do what Tim did every Sunday, you know, in that depositional manner in which he would try to use documentary evidence to get people to admit to the truth.
BARNICLE: I think it begins with so many Irish Catholics of a certain age, of a certain generation, with their parochial school education, and they come to life later on with a missionary zeal for the truth because it begins in parochial school.
Who is God? Why did God make me? And the interrogation during the Baltimore Catechism years of you in religion class five days a week, you had better have those questions answered. You better be able to answer them.
BUCHANAN: I think that—I think that Baltimore Catechism—I mean, we have studied that, memorized every single question and answer in that.... I remember every single word.
MATTHEWS: You guys are giving me all 1950s stuff. You know, Tim was younger than us. Let me tell you, I liked the questioning part of it, the Jesuitical part. What‘s going on here? What‘s the essential element here? You watched Russert on “Meet the Press” -- what‘s the essential question here? Not the accidental stuff. I‘m not here to trip you up. I‘m here to find out what really matters.
BUCHANAN: ....but Russert, what he got it from, is we were tested and tested and tested and tested and tested every day, and all the time. You better get it right. You better know your answer. ....you get your idea that you‘ve got the right answers.
And look, Pat Moynihan once—what‘d he tell me? He said, You know, the Fordham guys are graduated to keep on eye on Harvard guys. You know, all the traitors are up at Harvard and these good Catholic FBI agents...
MATTHEWS: The FBI—the Irish are good at this kind of spooking out the enemy. Let me ask you about this thing because Tim‘s—his recent legacy is always seeming to look ahead to the next election and figuring out the essential battleground...
BARNICLE: But back to your reference point about, you know, the Jesuit aspect of Catholic education, the search for the truth. ...his constant search for the truth in politics involved readings of history, current history, present day history, immigration patterns, religion. Who lives in Arizona? Who lives in New Mexico and Colorado? And that would lead him to be able to say that three years ago to the truth of what we are witnessing today.
MATTHEWS: There is an Irish obsession with politics, too.
BUCHANAN: Well, there is.
MATTHEWS: And it‘s so interesting, people like Tim and the late Kirk O‘Donnell, who was friends of ours, and so many—it seems to—Tip O‘Neill and Curley. It‘s not just Boston, either.
MATTHEWS: Mike, aren‘t they clean? Haven‘t the Irish pols gotten away from their old ways? Come on! They‘re not crooks.
BUCHANAN: No, they‘re not.
BARNICLE: Chris, today, I mean, too many—unfortunately, one of the greatest Irish politicians today is Ed Rendell, and he‘s a Jew from Pennsylvania.
BUCHANAN: ....we should remember that Tim worked for one of the greatest, the most honorable Irish Catholic politicians of all time, Daniel Patrick Moynihan....
Tim arrived in Pat Moynihan‘s office with a gilt-edged parochial school education—he was a triple Catholic education. And he was surrounded by Mensa members there, Yale law, the London School of Economics.
And Pat Moynihan knew that he was perhaps a bit intimidated and told Tim, Tim, remember one thing, that what they know, you can learn, but what you know, Tim, they can never learn. And that was because he was Irish and Catholic and just had that knowledge.