In Depth

A Reporter Remembers Tim Russert

Everybody who ever dealt with Tim Russert has stories to tell.

Reporters are no exception.

During one of my first conversations with him after he had was on his way to becoming NBC News’ powerful hyphenate in Washington, D.C., Tim Russert asked, “What kind of name is ‘Greppi’?”

“Italian, a leftover from a brief marriage,” I said, telling him the real, but ridiculous reasons I had kept the married name.

Those reasons boiled down to: (a) nobody in Atlanta, where I’d moved 24 hours after getting married, knew me by my maiden name; (b) after the mythic struggle to get my lifetime spa membership changed to my married name, I doubted I could get it changed back; and (c) I had never had a middle name -- until the addition of my married name made my maiden name a middle name.

No teacher would ever call me “Nimmy,” in a bad joke about No Middle Initial on the first day of class, again.

If Tim Russert didn’t care, he didn’t let on.

“What’s your maiden name?” he asked.

“Doherty,” I said.

Ever after that, I was not Greppi to him.

Conversations in person or on the phone started with “Doherty!!!!!” delivered in a voice that conveyed several exclamation marks.

No one else will ever say that again. I’ll miss it.

I’ll also miss the opportunity to retell a tiny but delicious story about a well-known guest’s nod to vanity.

I extracted a promise that some day he would give me permission to re-tell the story.

I can’t do that now. So the story and “Doherty!!!!!” will go with Tim Russert.

--Michele Doherty Greppi

For TVWeek's full coverage on Mr. Russert, including news and memorials,click here.