Sunday mornings will never be the same for me. I use to get up early, do my ‘chores’, take a shower and sit down with my cup of coffee and watch “Russert” on Meet The Press. Tim Russert, a proud Irish Catholic, died today of asymptomatic coronary artery disease. Asymptomatic coronary artery disease is the narrowing of blood vessels caused by the build up of plaque. It is the leading cause of death in the United States. His death was sudden and unpreventable. He passed his most recent stress test with flying colors on April 31. His personal physician Dr. Michael Newman said that there were no symptoms and nothing could have been done to change the outcome.
I didn’t work with Mr. Russert but we worked in the same industry and because of this I have spoken with him on the phone a couple of times as a ‘pass-through’ for my boss. No matter how many other journalists I may have listened to about the political climate, his was the voice I trusted. He was the voice of reason, fairness and balance. He was a man who was completely committed to his wife Maureen, his son Luke and his father “Big Russ” — he loved his family, he loved his Church, he loved his colleagues and he loved his country. He was a man of great character and he will be missed.
It is especially sad that he died today, the Friday before Father’s Day.
To the Russert family, all my friends at NBC/MSNBC and to all his friends in the broadcast journalism community, my deepest heart-felt sympathies; rest in peace Mr. Russert.
Tim Russert, NBC News’ Washington bureau chief and the moderator of “Meet the Press,” died Friday after being stricken at the bureau, NBC News said Friday. He was 58.
Russert was recording voiceovers for Sunday’s “Meet the Press” broadcast when he collapsed. He was rushed to Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, where resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful, said Russert’s physician, Michael Newman, who said the cause of death was not immediately known.
Russert had returned from Italy, where his family was celebrating the graduation of his son, Luke, from Boston College.
A grilling on “Meet the Press” was often considered an essential proving ground in the career of any national politician. Russert took the helm of the 60-year-old public affairs program in 1991.
“If you could pass the Tim Russert test, you could do something in this field,” said Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for Newsweek magazine and a columnist for msnbc.com.
Russert’s tenacity as a reporter and his consuming passion for politics were evident during his nearly round-the-clock appearances on NBC and MSNBC on election nights.
Aside from his on-air responsibilities, Russert was also a senior vice president and head of NBC’s overall Washington operations.
He was “one of the premier political journalists and analysts of his time,” Tom Brokaw, the former longtime anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” said in announcing Russert’s death. His assessment was echoed by former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, who said, “This is a tragic loss for journalism and for all who were privileged to know him.”
Russert’s death left his colleagues devastated.
Brian Williams, managing editor and anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” called his death a “staggering, overpowering and sudden loss.” Steve Capus, president of NBC News, called it “a loss for the entire nation.”
In a statement, President Bush called Russert “an institution in both news and politics for more than two decades.”
“Tim was a tough and hardworking newsman. He was always well-informed and thorough in his interviews. And he was as gregarious off the set as he was prepared on it,” the president said.
Earlier this year, Time magazine named Russert one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Mayor Byron Brown ordered flags flown at half-staff in Buffalo, N.Y., his hometown. NBC News planned to air a tribute to Russert on “Dateline NBC” on Friday at 10 p.m. ET, and Brokaw was to host a special edition of “Meet the Press” remembering Russert on Sunday morning.