Tim Russert Dies of Heart Attack

Tim Russert has died of a heart attack at the age of 58.

Tim Russert Dies of Heart Attack Meet the Press' moderator and NBC News Senior Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert poses for photographers on Oct. 23, 2006, in New York, before being inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame during the 16th Annual Hall of Fame awards dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) Family members say NBC’s Tim Russert has died. They tell The New York Times that Russert died of an apparent heart attack. The host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” was 58.

Longtime NBC anchor Tom Brokaw has now confirmed Russert’s death, in a special report on NBC. Brokaw says Russert’s death came during a political campaign that “he loved.”

Stunning and sad news.

More from MSNBC:

Russert was recording voiceovers for Sunday’s “Meet the Press” program when he collapsed, the network said. No details were immediately available.

Russert, the recipient of 48 honorary doctorates, took over the helm of “Meet the Press” in December 1991. Now in its 60th year, “Meet the Press” is the longest-running program in the history of television. In 2008, Time Magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Timothy John Russert Jr. was born in Buffalo, N.Y., on May 7, 1950. He was a graduate of Canisius High School, John Carroll University and the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He was a member of the bar in New York and the District of Columbia.

After graduating from law school, Russert went into politics as a staff operative. In 1976, he worked on the Senate campaign of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., and in 1982, he worked on Mario Cuomo’s campaign for governor of New York.

Russert joined NBC News in 1984. In April 1985, he supervised the live broadcasts of NBC’s TODAY show from Rome, negotiating and arranging an appearance by Pope John Paul II, a first for American television. In 1986 and 1987, Russert led NBC News’ weeklong broadcasts from South America, Australia and China.

Of his background as a Democratic political operative, Russert said, “My views are not important.” “Lawrence Spivak, who founded ‘Meet the Press,’ told me before he died that the job of the host is to learn as much as you can about your guest’s positions and take the other side,” he said in a 2007 interview with Time magazine. “And to do that in a persistent and civil way. And that’s what I try to do every Sunday.”

I’ve long fallen out of the habit of watching the Sunday shows, indeed much television current affairs programming at all, but always thought he was the best of his era despite his biases. The political operative to “objective journalist” transition is a strange one. But Russert was personable, funny, and generally fair to his guests. I knew him only as a viewer of his television appearances, which can be deceptive in giving the illusion that we truly know them as people, but he always struck me as a decent fellow.

UPDATE: A tribute from Howie Kurtz fronts the Saturday WaPo.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Hal says:

    He died on Friday the 13th – his last “gotcha”

    Rest in peace.

  2. Eneils Bailey says:

    That’s too young.
    That’s too bad.
    That’s the way it is.

    Hope his family does well.

  3. Boyd says:

    Another sad reminder of our mortality.

    The world’s a bit smaller place this afternoon. Rest in peace, Little Russ.

  4. FireWolf says:

    but always thought he was the best of his era despite his biases

    In an MSM era in which most journalists declared that they were unbiased and just wanted to get the truth out (which we all know is hogwash), with Mr. Russert, you knew his political leanings, and yet was fine with it because at least he was honest about who he was and what he believed in.

    Even if you didn’t always agree with his viewpoints.