Home / Tim Russert’s Passing Leaves Big Political Shoes to Fill

Tim Russert’s Passing Leaves Big Political Shoes to Fill

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Journalism lost a big player tonight. Journalists, especially those who cover the political beat and in Washington, got a shock to the system when Tom Brokaw interrupted NBC's normal schedule earlier today to report the death of his friend and colleague Tim Russert.

NBC reports that Tim Russert was working on some recordings for Sunday’s Meet The Press when he collapsed. He was rushed to the hospital but could not be resuscitated. He was an Irish Catholic from Buffalo, New York. He was proud of his blue collar roots, loved his family and was celebrating his son’s graduation from Boston College with a trip to Italy, from which he had just returned.

He was a devout Catholic and devoted husband and father. He wore many hats to match his political acumen, according to MSNBC he was the Managing Editor and Moderator of Meet the Press, political analyst for NBC Nightly News and the Today program.  He was also anchor of The Tim Russert Show, a weekly interview program on MSNBC. And he served as senior vice president and Washington bureau chief of NBC News.

Personally, when I saw the breaking news headlines, around 4:30 p.m. CT, I thought they were reporting on the passing of his father, surely not Tim. But, I was wrong. Instead it was a report about Tim Russert’s death. He was only 58 years young.

His dedication and his work ethic were infectious to those he worked with. The man had just returned from Italy and was back at work preparing for Sunday’s show. He was said to be both “coach and player” on the Washington bureau of NBC. If you missed the news report by Tom Brokaw here it is from MSNBC. Tom and Tim were long-time colleagues. Russert was also an author of two bestsellers. The two presumptive candidates were also asked for their reaction to the news of Tim's death. Obama was "grief stricken."

Obama on Russert's death:

I’ve known Tim Russert since I first spoke at the convention in 2004. He’s somebody who, over time, I came to consider not only a journalist but a friend. There wasn’t a better interviewer in TV, not a more thoughtful analyst of our politics, and he was also one of the finest men I knew. Somebody who cared about America, cared about the issues, cared about family. I am grief-stricken with the loss and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family. And I hope that, even though Tim is irreplaceable, that the standard that he set in his professional life and his family life are standards that we all carry with us in our own lives. 

McCain's response:  

Tim Russert was at the top of his profession. He was a man of honesty and integrity. He was hard but he was always fair. We miss him. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and we know that Tim Russert leaves a legacy of integrity of the highest level of journalism and we will miss him and we will miss him a lot. Again, he was hard, he was fair, he was at the top of his profession. He loved his country, he loved the Buffalo Bills and most of all he loved his family. 

Naturally, all eyes will be on who could possibly replace such a professional figure as Russert. It is too early to speculate or predict just who would be able to fill his shoes. My guess is that it was a two-person job, in the first place, that Tim was doing and it will probably take two people to fill it successfully. Along with the two Democratic candiates, Ted Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy also made touching remarks. Ted said something to the effect that he was "a gentle giant."

Heloise covered two Dem debates which Tim Russert moderated. All the press, in terms of Tim's moderation, was not good behind those two debates. I did not focus on Tim because he was not the focus, but rather the Democratic candidates. He loved politics and Sunday morning won’t be the same without him. He will be missed, but most of all he will miss the 2008 November election. He wouldn’t like missing something so big.

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  • Just to let you know, Bruce Springsteen dedicated a song to Russert at last night’s show in Cardiff, Wales (UK). I think it was Thunder Road, but I’m sure if you check the net you can find out more definitively. He gave quite a speech on Russert as a ‘friend of the E Street band’, largely to the bemusement of a British audience most of whom had probably never heard of Russert before last night. Anyway, thought you might like to know – sorry about the vagueness over the track…

  • hallo,

    give it a rest.

  • Heloise

    He had the master’s touch because Jack Kennedy smiled at him and shook his hands during one of his open-top motorcades. Tim’s dad took him there to see JFK, both Irish Catholics.


  • hallo

    I suspect the Clintons had him killed. Too many tough questions.

  • Russert was so full of enthusiasm for what he did. He fairly brimmed over with excitement almost every time he was on camera, and, judging from most of his colleagues’ reactions, off camera as well.

    As many have said, I can’t imagine the presidential campaign going forward without Russert energetically dissecting every note and nuance of each nominee up through and including the election itself.