NBC News’ Tim Russert Dead at 58

Jun 13, 2008  •  Post A Comment

First there was a gasp of disbelief, then grief spread across the country Friday afternoon at the news that Tim Russert, moderator of “Meet the Press,” had collapsed and died of a heart attack at the NBC News Washington bureau he had run for 20 years.
“Tim was our friend, our leader, our cheerleader, our teacher, my mentor,” red-eyed correspondent Andrea Mitchell said on MSNBC, as the NBC Universal-owned cable channel began coverage of the loss “Nightly News” anchor Brian Wil¬liams described from Afghanistan as “unfathomable.”
Mr. Russert, a political junkie and former political aide who truly knew Washington, D.C., from the inside out, had relished every twist and turn of the just-concluded long presidential primary season.
He had just returned from a trip to Italy. Writer wife Maureen Orth and their son, Luke, had remained in Italy but were scheduled to fly home Friday.
Mr. Russert, who was 58, was as well-known as an Irish Catholic family man as he was for his love of and knowledge of all things political and his dogged questioning of people in power. He had written two bestsellers, “Big Russ and Me” in 2004 and “Wisdom of Our Fathers” in 2006. Both were inspired by his father, who lives in Buffalo, N.Y., and was oft-mentioned on the air by Mr. Russert.
Former “Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw said soberly on MSNBC after breaking the news to viewers: “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.”
Mr. Russert had been a special counsel in the U.S. Senate to Sen. Daniel Moynihan, D-N.Y., from 1977-82 before going to work for New York Gov. Mario Cuomo in the early ’80s.
But Ms. Mitchell credited Mr. Russert’s Jesuit schooling for teaching him how to ask the questions that “average people would want to know and also ask the questions that would stump the political figures.”
He and petite “Meet the Press” executive producer Betsy Fischer were known for their prodigious research in preparation for guests.
Ms. Mitchell, who had worked with Mr. Russert throughout his NBC News career, said of his probing questions that he wasn’t after “a gotcha moment,” but “what people needed to know about their political leaders.”
He began his NBC News career in New York in 1984, with duties that included the “Today” show. He was in charge of the live broadcasts of “Today” from Rome in 1985, where he arranged an appearance by Pope John Paul II, a first for American television.
Mr. Russert became as much an institution in Washington as “Meet the Press,” which is not only the longest-running program on television but has dominated the Sunday morning political and public affairs programming in the decade since David Brinkley relinquished his post on ABC’s “This Week” in 1997.
“He had great clarity and vision. He was like a quarterback who could see the whole field,” Mr. Brokaw said, adding that Mr. Russert kept his political opinions to himself.
Jeff Zucker, the former “Today” executive producer who became president and CEO of NBC Universal, had worked shoulder to shoulder with Mr. Russert in the news division. “We have lost a beloved member of our NBC Universal family and the news world has lost one of its finest,” he said. “The enormity of this loss cannot be overstated.”
As word spread about Mr. Russert’s death, mournful statements and recollections and prayers for his family poured in from people who had worked with him and competed against him.
“Tim was the best of our profession. He asked the best questions and then he listened for the answer,” Bob Schieffer, moderator of CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said in a statement. “We became very close friends over the years. He delighted in scooping me and I felt the same way when I scooped him. When you slipped one past ol’ Russert, you felt as though you had hit a home run off the best pitcher in the league. I just loved Tim and I will miss him more than I can say.”
George Stephanopoulos, moderator of ABC’s “This Week,” said in a statement: “Tim loved everything about politics and journalism—because he believed in it. Every day he brought Washington home to his viewers and made all of us better.”
Cokie Roberts, who had co-hosted “This Week” with Sam Donaldson in between Mr. Brinkley and Mr. Stephanopoulos, said in her statement: “Tim Russert was a great competitor and a good friend. I am obviously shocked and dismayed by this news and extend my thoughts and prayers to his son, Luke—he was so proud of you—to his wife, Maureen, and to the rest of his family, especially his beloved father. Tim and I worked together on Catholic causes, and I will greatly miss him.”
Jim Griffin, the William Morris agent who had negotiated deals with Mr. Russert since his first days at NBC News, called him “probably the finest news executive I ever worked with.”
“Tim’s passing is a loss not only to his family and many friends, it is a loss to good journalism and to our country,” said Dan Rather, the former “CBS Evening News” anchor who now hosts a news program for HDNet, in a statement. “Tim had become an important part of our political process. He will be especially missed in this historic presidential election year.
“Tim Russert was a beacon of quality journalism. As an interviewer, he had few, if any, peers.”
(Editor: Baumann. Updated throughout at 6:45 p.m. West Coast.)

97 Comments

  1. I am so shocked! It’s hard to believe.
    I’m not a great fan of the biased NBC News reporting, but I’d trust and respect Tim Russert’s comments above all. He was a tough interviewer, but showed respect for all. He
    will be greatly missed. NBC has lost one of best and there is no other like him.
    With warm regards to his family and friends
    Linda Patterson

  2. What a loss to the newsgathering organizations. It was a heart attack, details slowing coming out. Folks said he did not look well during the taping of tonight’s show.
    Too bad he didn’t make it to the end of the presidential race. His passion and love for his work will be sorely missed.

  3. What a shock! We have been fans of Tim Russert for years, especially because we are Buffalo Bills fans from western NY. He will be missed.

  4. I’m in shock! My heart and prayers go out to his family and friends. He was a great reporter.

  5. tim is living with jesus i am sorry that he died ,we all going too go some,god has number 4 us . that once no him will see him again he no jesus our real home is in haven

  6. This is so sad. There are few real news reporting people left on television. Why couldnt it have been Bill O or some other hack entertainment reporter? My prayers go to his family and friends.

  7. What a terrible loss to our country and to those
    who really like hearing someone with an unbiased
    approach to the political scene.
    I am crying because he was a special person in my
    quest for the truth..I believed him and I know
    everyone will miss him terribly.
    We send our sincere sympathy to his family and those
    who worked with in in the television industry.
    This loss will be felt for a long, long time.
    God’s Peace,
    Myrna Bailey

  8. My husband Rick met Mr. Russert when he was a security guard at St. Johns University in New York.
    Rick is shocked…..He said Mr. Russert was a real gentleman and we both were big fans of his.
    He was a class act. Very intelligent and he knew exactly how to ask the tough questions.
    My deepest sympathy to his family.
    Very best regards,
    Martha and Richard Wahmann

  9. we lost a very good person

  10. WHAT A SHOCK I BEN LOVE TO WASH HIM ON TV

  11. I have just one question for kaitlin. WTF?????

  12. Wow. That’s sad, shocking, and everything. The industry just finished mourning Jim McKay, and now, they have to more Tim. He had class and everything. Going to miss that dry erase board of his this election. NBC’s going to have some big shoes to fill with his loss.

  13. I am soooo very shocked to hear the news. He was truly was of my favorites. i looked forward to seeing him on the Today Show. This is a loss or great proportions. My Prayers go out to the family in their time of need.

  14. What a sad day. Mr Russert was one of the very few news people that I respected and trusted. Life
    will be more difficult without him. He will be missed. His legacy will live beyond the memory of him

  15. I am deeply sadden by the loss of a true professional such as Tim Russert. I could always count on Tim to ask the tough questions regardless of his guest political affiliation. My thoughts and sympathy goes out to Big Russ, the Russert family and his NBC co-workers. Sunday mornings will never be the same.

  16. this kaitlin poeple dont worry tim is in heaven now we are all going 2 missed him that part of life when god called us home then we have too go. dont worry you will see him again .if you have jesus in your life you will no going too see him again

  17. It was a shock that brought tears to my eyes to hear of Tim Russert’s passing. My prayers go out to his family and co-workers. His presence will be greatly missed. Tim made a very positive mark on this world in the years he served here with us.
    Namaste

  18. Is Magalie Paraisy kaitlins mother? Who are these ignorant people on this board? Wash him? WTH??? Ben Love??????? HEllO!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Tim Russert’s death is a loss to all of us. I will miss him

  20. America has lost a most capable commentator, and a very good man! My prayers are with his family, colleagues and friends. He is dancing with angels now…

  21. A kind man with a big heart, who really cared about cause and people. NBC will never be the same. Sympathies to his wife and son.

  22. What a sad day for all of America! Our thoughts and prayers got out to his family…both personal and professional. What a class act, always truthful yet respectful. Rest in Peace Tim R.

  23. I just can’t believe the news. Tim Russert was one of the Greatest News Men I have ever watched.I can’t stop crying.
    Ever Sunday Morning I would watch him. I would say you get them Tim. This is such a Great Loss.
    My heart goes out to his wife and son. He would talk about them on the show and the look in his eyes, Wow. God Bless to his family and to the NBC News.
    There will never be another Tim Russert. And what ever happens next for him. NBC needs to put it on the TV, because he was as great as the President. Tim was better.

  24. I loved watching Tim Russert every Sunday on Meet The Press and on Election coverage night and on the Today show. He was always on top of the latest events and was a very unbiased and intelligent political commentator and moderator. He will sorely be missed by many fans.
    My sympathy to his family and friends at NBC as they deal with this shockingly, sad news.
    My own husband died suddenly of a heart attack also at the age of 58 so it was like a slap in the face to hear about Mr. Russert’s passing today.
    Sincerely, Jane Loftus

  25. I am so sorry to hear about Mr. Russert’s death. I really enjoyed watching him on televeision. I can tell he loved his job; it was his passion. It seemed as if he lived for politics, and because of that I learned a lot from him. I was able to understand this years presidential debates and pre-election because of his ability to dissect politics and interpret it for regular citizens like myself. I will miss Mr. Russert on Sunday mornings; and I absolutely hate that he will miss the announcement of the president for the year 2009.

  26. I feel as though a family relative has died. We would get up early to watch his show. It is a great loss.

  27. We are shocked and so terribly sad at the tragic news. What a loss for America and the world. We both have such respect and admiration for Tim Russert and commented many times that we wish he was running for president. Our thoughts and prayers are with Tim’s family and co-workers.

  28. It’s hard to express the depth of Tim’s contribution to our country. He is the journalist that I really felt I could trust. Sadly, I don’t feel as safe now that he’s gone. He was a great American.

  29. I am so shocked to hear the sudden death of Mr. Russert who is such an well respected political journalst. I will deeply miss his show which I regiliously watch every sunday. May god bless him and my deepest condolence to his family.
    gb

  30. My deepest condolence to his family. America will miss him
    gb

  31. I am stunned. I find myself crying all the time.
    Such a shame. Tim was an inspiration.
    How I am going to get through Sunday without watching Meet the Press, I don’t know.
    He was a pleasure to listen to and the way he listened and didn’t interrupt whoever he interviewed really impressed me.
    To Tim’s family I send my heartfelt sympathy. How he loved his family. I am so very sorry.

  32. I first met Tim at a conference in DC and he was teasing me of my being an episcopalian and he catholic I said the only dfference is Henry the VIII and I are good friends… he thought that was funny.
    The second time I met him was at The Governor;s conference on Tourism in Albany NY I was a guest speaker on a panel with Gov, Cuomo at the time and he was so funny I almost fell off my chair in the middle of a panel discussion.
    His professionalism and the chalkboard was a great prop for him.
    I will miss him
    Jim Bates

  33. I WANT TO LET HIS WIFE, CHILDREN AND FATHER AND ALL HIS FAMILY KNOW HOW GENUINELY SORRY I WAS TO HEAR THE BAD NEWS AS SOMEONE WHO HAS LOST HER HUSBAND MY SYMPATHY REALLY GOES OUT TO HIS WIFE. I DID NOT GET THE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET HIM IN PERSON BUT I CRIED WHEN I HEARD OF HIS PASSING. I HAD A DEEP RESPECT FOR HIM BUT EVEN MORE AFTER HIS BOOK ABOUT HIS DAD. HE WILL BE MISSED. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

  34. Dear The Russert and NBC family,
    My family would like to extend our deepest sympathy for your loss. My kids even loved watching Tim. He will be surely missed.
    Again, sorry.

  35. I have watched Meet the Press with Tim Russert for more years than I can remember. He will be truly missed. God bless him and his family.

  36. Mr.Russert was The Professional in his profession. My wife and I are saddened by his death and pray the best for his family.

  37. Tim Russert was at the top of his game. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all his family. His loss at NBC has created a void that will never be fully filled. He is now in heaven with other NBC masters such as Chet Huntly, David Brinkley, John Chancellor, and Frank Magee. Good bye Tim, you will not be forgotten.

  38. His quest for the Truth was without end.
    His humanity was second to none.
    His Energy was infectious.
    His love of life was inspiring.
    His tenacity was without equal.
    His professionalism was superb.
    God Bless you Tim. Thank you for all of your contributions.
    Peter Bright

  39. What a loss! “Sad Day”…your an ass. Don’t wish it was somebody else!

  40. I WATCHED TIM EACH SUNDAY ON MEET THE PRESS,AN READ HIS BOOK BIG RUSS,IM SO SADDENED OF THIS NEWS, MY THOUGHTS AN PRAYERS ARE WITH HIS FAMILY,I WILL MISS MY SUNDAY MORNINGS WITH RUSS ,WHAT A LOSS FOR US ALL

  41. I was shocked by the news today. Tim Russert was the best political analyst on TV. His style was so down to earth – that more Americans (including me) could understand the primary process. He had such excitement in his voice when he spoke of the “numbers” and the “Colors – Blue/Red” I will truly miss him and the stories about his dad! God will take care of him now. My condolences to his family and those with whom he worked!

  42. Oh my gosh! Raised watching meet the Press. What will the election season be like without him. What a wonderful journalist, human, son, father, husband and friend.
    One of the all-time greats. An icon that will be missed not only by family and freinds but a nation and world as well.
    One of the last of a dying breed of journalists that had class, integrity, grit, and just a pnache about him that made the person he was talking to feel special. Made the entitled politicians nervous and guilty looking. LOL. Tim, I and a world will miss you and remember you.

  43. What a country…
    What a man…

  44. To Mr. Russert family and coworker
    May God be with you and gives you his special
    comfort at this time.
    To me ‘Meet The Press’ was ‘Meet Mr. Russert’.
    He was the star with beautiful smile.
    He was a great person. We miss him.
    Ludit

  45. I am 47 yrs old and I remember Tim Russert well, the only way I ever understood politics is because of him. His explanation of things were so black and white. I remember 9/11 and I watched him and he was so real. He will be missed especially this election year, I do not know who I will turn to too understand the elections this year!!!!!!

  46. When my husband told me this morning about Tim, I found myself crying to my suprise. I really enjoyed watching him. To those of you who were lucky enough to call him “friend” I am so sorry for your lost, for the rest of us I’m just glad that we got to know him and watch him on TV.
    My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

  47. Tim Russert has been the poster child for the American way….coming from humble, blue collar roots with strong family and faith to go on to college and a successful career. Yet, he never forgot those roots. I didn’t realize that Tim and I were the same age….but, I can relate to him in all of the ways that I mentioned above. My father ( a steel worker) only had a 7th grade education, but was so proud to announce his four daughters college degrees. We were Catholic too. Tim was so special. My heartfelt condolences to his family.

  48. I was so sorry to hear that Tim Russert died Friday afternoon. My husband died 5 months ago of the same thing. I know that the nation is so sad to hear of his passing and I also know the terrible pain and shock that his family are going through. My prayers are with them. He was such a wonderful man.

  49. I feel a personnel lost even though I did not personnel known Tim Russert. He has been in my home informing me, making me laugh and teach me.
    I feel sorrow for his family and friends. At the same time I feel a lost. I lost someone I trusted to help me be informed about the world I live in today. And I do not trust easily.
    I am sorry that all of us have lost one of the best.

  50. To The Russert Family: My deepest sympathies
    to all. He was The Best, in all he did.
    He helped me not hate Politics as I saw it,
    but gave me an understanding of how to apprciate
    the reality of what politics could be.
    We will remember him for all his passions,
    and love of life. Susan Chmura

  51. So sad to that Tim Russert passed away. I will truly miss him – he always managed to ask the questions of the “egomaniacs of Washington, DC” that I would’ve liked to have asked. He seemed to be a very honest and sincere person. My thoughts and prayers are with all his family and also his many friends at NBC. I know that I already miss him. There were so many more things he had to say and that I needed to hear.

  52. I’m not much of a political guru, but Tim always put things into perspective for me. I’ve watched “Meet the Press” since I can remember. Tim will be missed. I don’t know that he could ever be replaced with his knowledge and explanations of this country’s political arena. What will we do without him during the election coverage? I watched Sunday and just cried through the entire program, especially the end with his taping of his Father’s Day wish to his own father. I pray for his family, that they know how respected and well like he truly was.

  53. I came home from work friday night & saw Tom Brokaw’s face it was filled with sadness. I couldnt imagin what had happened. Then he said we’ll be right back with more Remembering Tim Russert. I was in complete SHOCK! I was so sad.the only time I ever watched politics was with Tim. He was a Sunday Morning special.& I never trusted anyone whom reported politics unless it came from Tim. Now who will tell me my next president? Politics & the News will never be the same. God bless the Russert Family. Tim will be very much missed.

  54. My junior year at Illinois Wesleyan U. my dad purchased a television………few programs, black and white and fuzzy! NBC was our favorite in those days. Tim was like a member of the family. We knew he had a special greatness and the programs since his death confirmed that. We have the books which are a great legacy plus the memories of a truly good life. May he be an example for all Americans who want to salvage our values and honesty. We have strayed. Love and hugs to the family. Luke carry on!

  55. My junior year at Illinois Wesleyan U. my dad purchased a television………few programs, black and white and fuzzy! NBC was our favorite in those days. Tim was like a member of the family. We knew he had a special greatness and the programs since his death confirmed that. We have the books which are a great legacy plus the memories of a truly good life. May he be an example for all Americans who want to salvage our values and honesty. We have strayed. Love and hugs to the family. Luke carry on!

  56. I must say this was one of the greatest shocks I have ever had…I was listening to our local new radio station coming home from work when the announcment was made about Tim Russert dying! It took my breath away for a split second, then great, great sadness came over me as I realized I’ll never hear that great voice again calmly explaining the electorial process, or “grilling” one of our political leaders on “Meet the Press”. I’ve watched the program for nearly the entire length of its existence and I must say Mr. Russert was the best moderator they ever put in charge. I and my husband will miss his careful analysis of people, happenings and the state of the nation. We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the Russert family, the NBC “family”, and all of his great friends… There will never be another like him…He was unique in every way…

  57. I want to extend my deepest sympathy to the Russert Family as well as Tim’s work family and many close friends. I wasn’t even a regular fan of Meet the Press and yet I feel as though I have lost a member of my family. I have no idea why this man has touched me so deeply. Since I read of his death on my computer I can’t seem to hear enough about Tim’s life. How refreshing…… A celebrity who actually loved his wife, his son, his family, his friends, his faith, his job and his country. A man who was loving, loyal, honest, compassionate, had integrity and character and was proud to demonstrate these qualities without ego. What a concept! I have renewed hope that there are still people in the world who believe in what I was taught by my parents and that these qualities have not become a thing of the past Thank you Tim Russert for just being you.

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