Tim Russert Dies of Heart Attack
Tim Russert has died of a heart attack at the age of 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.