Friday, June 13, 2008
WASHINGTON — Tim Russert was big wherever he went — in politics, in television, in writing — and even in a suit.
Russert, the hard-hitting but big-hearted moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” died at work Friday at age 58 of a reported heart attack.
Russert, who also was in charge of NBC News’ Washington bureau, is survived by his wife, Maureen Orth., and his son, Luke.
A noticeably shaken Tom Brokaw made the announcement live from New York on the NBC network, saying his colleague collapsed and died early Friday afternoon in the network’s bureau in Washington.
Brokaw said Russert had just returned from a trip to Italy with his wife and son to celebrate his son’s graduation from Boston College. They reportedly were still in Italy at the time of his death.
“He has been a very familiar face on this network and throughout the world of political journalism as one of the premiere political analysts and journalists of his time,” Brokaw said.
Russert was also known for his large stature, his love of his family, and his affinity for his home town, Buffalo — and it’s NFL franchise, the Bills. Brokaw said Russert had just visited Buffalo last week to assist in moving his father to a new home. Russert’s father, known as Big Russ, was the subject of one of Russert’s best-selling books.
“I think I can invoke personal privilege to say that this news division will not be the same without his strong, clear voice. He’ll be missed as he was loved — greatly,” Brokaw said.
Russert had hosted “Meet the Press” since 1991, taking the seat from Garrick Utley. Russert also authored two best-sellers, including “Big Russ and Me,” which focused on the relationship with his father, and the “Wisdom of Our Fathers.”
Russert honed his hard-hitting interviewing style over the years, and became a make-or-break appearance for any major American politician, as well as must-see television for political observers, in and outside government.
He regularly interviewed the biggest names in domestic and international politics. He also moderated presidential debates, including at least three during the 2008 presidential campaign cycle. He was scheduled to host Sens. Joe Biden, D-Del., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., for the upcoming Sunday show.
“Meet the Press” has been on network television since 1947, and is the longest running American public affairs show.
Russert — who also was an attorney and a former aide to former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., and former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo (D) — had a distinctive on-air style marked by tough questioning and extensive research that included posting well-documented quotes and charts on air.
During the 2000 election, Russert received light ribbing but made an indelible memory for making repeated references to a white dry-erase board he continued to write on while explaining the ongoing tallies. He eventually determined that night — before the recount and the hanging chads — by playing out numbers on his erase-board tally that Florida would be the center of the action.
Russert’s reputation — criticized both by conservatives for liberal bias, and liberals for conservative bias — might have been the only one left untarnished by the scandal involving former White House aide…… To continue [Click HERE]