Tim Russert, RIP


The nation's Sunday morning advertisement for Lexis-Nexis is dead of a heart attack at the young age of 58. I won't pretend that I was a huge fan of Russert's particular brand of anchorperson nostalgia for the Greatest Generation, but, unlike 99.9% of the rest of us, he did one thing better than anyone else ? drag a politician onto network TV and confront him or her with past statements and actions that do not reconcile with the rhetorical BS of the present. The best such example I can recall offhand was Russert's brutal interrogation 13 months ago of a stammering John McCain.

You'd think it wouldn't be rare for a political journalist to read up on his subjects, but Russert was not only a rare exception in that regard, he also used the tactic with admirable efficiency and calm.

Russert-lovers? Haters? Share your memories in the comments.

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  1. He wasn’t too challenging to them, but I appreciated when Russert had Alvin Poussaint, MD and Bill Cosby on his show.


  2. He was the only major news figure I genuinely liked. He managed to simplfy complex issues for people without dumbing them down, and cut through a lot of nonsense without ever copping a hostile attitude.

  3. It will be weird that he won’t be on Sunday morning anymore.


  4. This happened in Italy. I smell murder…

  5. He was likable and enthusiastic enough about his work, but he rarely scratched much deeper than the near surface of an issue. In that regard he was not unlike the majority of his contemporaries.

  6. “He was the only major news figure I genuinely liked. He managed to simplfy complex issues for people without dumbing them down, and cut through a lot of nonsense without ever copping a hostile attitude.”

    Guess you never watch The News Hour” on PBS. Those folks are the absolute best. Compared to them, Russart was a hack.

  7. There goes the hardest softball interviewer on TV. He did an excellent job of keeping the status quo chugging along.

  8. Russert-lovers? Haters?


    Besides, James Lipton is the best interviewer on TV.

  9. This happened in Italy. I smell murder…

    He was killed by a meatball?

    (Too early for that?)

  10. It’s sad to see that heroin addiction clams yet another victim.

  11. Apparently it was a massive heart attack.

  12. I gush with tears. At least I think it’s tears.

  13. He was killed by a meatball?

    That’s a spicy meat-a-ball!

  14. From the Krugman can’t read a graph and naked girl-cows comments:

    Jonathan Hohensee | June 13, 2008, 4:02pm | #
    I can’t wait to see Tim Russert cover this issue on Meet the Press.

    Smooth move Jon…you fucking killed him.

  15. What’s kind of shocking about it is that his dad, whom most likely lived a harder life than he did, is still alive.

    The comment from McAuliffe the other day about how ‘my dad & your dad are sitting up in heaven and laughing’ is a little weird now.

  16. Nobody was better after primary elections at telling the American People what they should take from the primary, how they should percieve the candidates, what they should think, etc. The are quite a few people out there that owe this man a ton of gratitude.

  17. Comfort to Tim Russert’s family and friends.

    The guy seemed like the truth mattered to him. During the prelude to the attack on Iraq, I remember Russert asked Richard Perle if he could honestly say that the invasion wasn’t being done for Israel.

  18. “Nobody was better after primary elections at telling the American People what they should take from the primary, how they should percieve the candidates, what they should think, etc.”

    One less propagandist.

  19. He will long be remembered for the skillful manner in which he conveyed optimism to the American people during the darkest days of Great Depression as well as for his leadership against the Nazi menace.

    Stop the world; I want to get off.


  20. He was better than what passes for interviewers on other political shows. Plus, he seemed genuinely likable. Regardless, it’s too bad that he’s passed.

  21. I’m top dog now, baby! Olberman next!

  22. The wages of sexism are death.

    Just ask(or as Michelle Obama would say “axe”) Vince Foster.

  23. Chris Matthews | June 13, 2008, 4:44pm | #

    I wonder if they will pick a long term replacement right away or pick someone who they expect to die soon as a transitional replacement like they did for the pope.

  24. As much as I hate to admit it, his interview with Ron Paul was both completely fair and made Dr Paul look like a raving lunatic idiot due to a complete lack of preparation on his part. Whichever family member was supposed to be going over likely questions with him that morning certainly didn’t earn their salary.

  25. It’s a shame and utterly unnecessary that so many people die this way. Automatic External Defibrillators ought to be as ubiquitous as the office first aid kid. Heart attack induced V-fib (which this almost certainly was) outside of a hospital is essentially 100% fatal because there simply isn’t time to wait for paramedics to bring a defibrillator. With all the money spent on workplace safety, this is one thing that would actually save lives for a relatively small cost. A cost that would likely fall considerably the more common they become.

    This happened in Italy.

    No it didn’t. It happened at NBC’s Washington offices.

  26. I’ll miss seeing him on Sunday mornings and on any big news (particularly election nights) coverage. He seemed like a genuinely jovial fellow. I feel for his family.

    One of his better interviews was the one in 2004 with then-presidential-candidate Howard Dean. Russert destroyed him. Many people, including me, thought that that interview was the beginning of the end for the Dean campaign.

    For people saying he was too soft an interviewer, you have to realize that to have gotten as far as he did, you have to be a reasonable interviewer to get politicians to come on your show…no politicians; no show. There are probably much tougher interviewers out there, but most people have never heard of them because the interviewer can’t get anyone big to come on his/her show, so no big network will hire him/her.

    Tim Russert was an expert at being tough, but not too tough.

  27. I wasn’t always a fan of Russert, I thought he was sometimes too much of a pusher of conventional wisdom…however he interrogated in his interviewees better than just about anyone, it will be sad not to see him Sunday mornings…

  28. Matt Welch said all that was needed to be said. Dude won his own thread!

    Russert did his homework and held some feet to the fire.

    Who else on public affairs tv even does this much?

  29. “No it didn’t. It happened at NBC’s Washington offices”

    Initial reports said Italy while on vacation with his family.

  30. However, he also quoted Eric Dondero on that show, so there’s a minus for you.

  31. He must’ve had the heart attack when he heard Obama’s proposal for raising payroll taxes.

  32. regardless of his journalistic merit, he was a fellow buffalo native, fellow cleveland state law school alum, and fellow bills fan…reason enough for me to weep! if we can’t have more nice people like him in the world, politics is irrelevant.

    ok, enough of being maudlin. why couldn’t it have been o’reilly or olberman or lou dobbs instead?

  33. I’m watching clips of him now. He’s always smiling when he’s interviewing, adorable.

  34. Sad to hear. I respected him as much as I could respect any high-profile major media outlet personality. Just sad to hear, he was still pretty young.

  35. Def. a major figure in the increasingly irrelevant old-man-at-a-desk genre. Was a master of stating the obvious in a serious tone. RIP

  36. I’m prolly going to sound like an (|) for saying this, but … do all you smart people actually watch TV news?

  37. Strange. This weekend he was going to play the Michelle “whitey” tape.

  38. I’m prolly going to sound like an (|) for saying this, but … do all you smart people actually watch TV news?

    Okay, I’ll take the bait. I do watch some (Meet the Press, Fox News Sunday and The Mcglaughlin Group) because they gives me a feel for mainstream opinion.

  39. Terry, you hearless prick.

    Russert was just as hard on Democrats as he was on Republicans.

  40. Brian Courts Posted, “Automatic External Defibrillators ought to be as ubiquitous as the office first aid kid.

    No, you stupid asshole. Heart attacks are one of those diseases that are disappearing thanks to modern medicine. With medicine for lower chloestral and lower blood pressure combined with defilliblrators, and cardovascular clearing scopes, your chances IF YOU GET A YEARLY CHECK AND WATCH YOUR WEIGHT, YOUR CHANCE OF GETTING A HEART ATTACK IS ZILICH, ZERO NADA.
    Tim was a fat shit, who always did double time on the buffet line.
    Because of one guys gluttony you want to punich the healthy.
    Well FUCK YOU Courts, FUCK YOU.

  41. “Go Bills!”

  42. Terry is a fucking redneck piece of shit shilling full-time for the GOP fascists.

    You suck cock as much as Larry Craig, Mark Foley and the Reverend Ted Haggard combined, Terry.

    Other than that – you are worthless.

  43. “Russert was just as hard on Democrats as he was on Republicans.”

    He was not you stupid cunt. The episode in 2006 combined with the knowledge he worked for Cuomo and Moyinhan proves he isn’t.
    Get your head out of laps once in a while you slut.

  44. Remember when Hillary said on MLK day in Harlem, being in the senate is like “being on a planation, you know what I mean.”
    The next Sunday on MTP, first guest was Barack Obama.
    Did Russert ask him about the Hillary quote, six days before?

    Was that really relevant to Obama at that point (or any point)? Her (ridiculous) comment was implying that the Senate was under the thumb of rich whites. It was pure demagoguery and condescending to her mostly black audience.

  45. Boys, boys! No need to fight over me!

  46. Besides, James Lipton is the best interviewer on TV.

    Episiarch wins the thread…

    …wait, are you serious, Episiarch?

  47. NAL posted “Was that really relevant to Obama at that point (or any point)? ”

    YES. As being one of two stars in the Senate and the one that clearly out shined Hilary and was already being mentioned as a possible PC, how did he not ask it? It would have been the first thing on anyone’s tongue to ask them after hearing Hilary’s remark.
    Who do you thinks opinion would be more relevant and newsworthy, Carville’s or Obama’s?

  48. Yeah, but he wasn’t a Libertarian (Statist), so fuck him.

  49. Terry,

    You are like a breath of fresh air. It is so nice to have someone as polite and conciliatory as you at HnR. Please join us in as many threads as possible.

  50. I’d be willing to bet Russert was better at his job than “Terry” is at his.
    Assuming Terry has a job.

  51. I’m starting to hate this blog.

  52. Terry is very good at playing the obnoxious asshole.

  53. “Terry is very good at playing the obnoxious asshole.”

    You mean he has a job at Fox News?

  54. I think I want to change my first name. But having misanthropes like “Terry” “commenting” on blogs is just part of the price we have to pay for unfettered political discourse. Tim Russert was an exceptional human, I believe. And, as someone who has spent the last four decades in both politics and journalism, and who knew Tim a little bit, I feel the loss so many feel with his death. Though, like all humans, he made his share of mistakes, he was unusually well motivated and contributed to the kind of civil political discourse that slime balls like “Terry” can never appreciate.

  55. I guess Terry successfully trolled this thread. God what an asshole.

    I second what Terry Michael said, and the rest of you are jack asses. Russert had to walk a very tight rope as the lead political journalist for NBC. Something difficult that no one else seems to be able to do. He had to be fair yet critical, and he got many people at home to ask questions that they were unable to ask or unwilling to ask on their own by gaining their trust and presenting information and ideas they never would have considered otherwise. He will be missed.

  56. Darn, 58?


  57. I agree with Terry Michael and Stephen the Goldberger. Russert was obviously passionate about his work, and knew the line he had to straddle, and did it better than any has or will. His passing is a tremendous loss for televised political discourse. I doubt we’ll see anyone truly replace him in our lifetimes.

  58. Folks, the best thing to do with a major a-hole like Terry is to just ignore him.

  59. Okay people, reminder.
    MLK Jr. Day 2006 a Monday, Hilary said at a Harlem church, “It’s like a planation, you know what I mean.” about the senate. Six days later, that Sunday on MTP, the first guess was Barack Obama. The most popular senator at the time, even more than Clinton, who star was rising and who is black.
    Did Russert ask him the obvious question, the one that is on the “tip of the tongue”, the one you would ask spontanouesly at first meeting Obama, the question you would consicoulsy have to supress, which is, “Obama here is what Clinton said on MLK Jr, (play audio), so what do you think?”
    He did ask Carville about it twently minutes later.
    Who’s opinion would be more relevant, more newsworthy, Carville’s or Obama’s?
    Factoring in that Russert worded for high profile democrats, Cuomo and Moyihan, one can only conclude that he favored democrats.
    And he did.
    He never pressed John Kerry on why Kerry broke his promise TWICE to release his military records.
    He may have been the “best” interviewer, but that tells you the “best” in broadcast journalism has a very low threshold.

  60. OK, I’m gonna take a wild guess that Terry’s post was deleted.

    I’m sorry to see Russert go out, especially like this. I didn’t watch him all that much, but he seemed to be one of the last journalists left with any shred of integrity. Terry Michael and Stephen the Goldberger sum up my feelings on the matter better than I could express.

    Be a hater all you want, but there ain’t no school like old school, which Russert was a proud member of.

    And I’ll take his nostalgic waxing of the WWII generation any day. That’s a mold long broke and we are the lesser for it. They make those who followed look to be the (relatively) wealthy, whiney pussies that we’ve become, especially the Boomers. Just shut the fuck up about the 60’s already. Nobody cares but you.

  61. He never pressed John Kerry on why Kerry broke his promise TWICE to release his military records.

    Give it up to us Carnac. What other questions do you *know* that he was thinking, but then didn’t ask? I’ll bet he did this while wearing a shit-eating grin and a gave partisan chuckle too.

    C’mon, use your psychic powers for the good of others.

  62. Matt posted this, “The best such example I can recall offhand was Russert’s brutal interrogation 13 months ago of a stammering John McCain.”
    McCain a Republican. Where is Russert’s “brutal interrogation” of Obama, a Democrat?
    Russert wasn’t fair, he was a typical partisan media liberal. Case closed.

    Terry Michael, you are mentally deranged. Anyone who calls themself a “Libertarian Democrat” is not of sound mind.
    My advice, starting drinking heavily, save what little sanity, if any, you have left.

  63. I remember Russert fingering Huckabee under the table a week after he took a hatchet to Ron Paul.

  64. Tim Russert was an exceptional human, I believe.

    You’re wrong. But he was exceptional.

  65. Jacob,

    Maybe Dr Paul should have been ready to answer questions about his earmarks five days after the story about them was published. I hope he gave a stern talking-to to whichever nephew was getting paid to prep him for talk shows.

  66. My previous posts were deleted. Why?
    As a member of the Libertarian party and a DOUBLE SUBSCRIBER TO REASON MAGAZINE, I believe, morally, the editor of the site owes me an explanation.
    Yes, I might have used some digusting analogies and/or unnecessary curse words, but for Gods sake, it is a Friday, weekend for people like me, working in A FOR PROFIT ENTERPRISE, meaning we don’t make a profit, our jobs are eliminated. We DON’T RELY ON DONATIONS TO STAY IN BIZ. Quipese?
    I blow off some steam through the posts.
    Cut me some slack.

  67. “James Lipton is the best interviewer on TV”

    How can you tell? He has his head so far up the ass of any movie star that comes with 20 feet of him you have to wonder what the hell kind of method that is for interviewing.

    Come to think of it, he doesn’t have his head up their asses nearly as far as those collections of sycophants they get in for the studio audience.

  68. He started out in politics by covering up for a Democratic senator (hiding Moynihan’s whiskey bottles). Good riddance.

  69. Tim did more than the rest. Perhaps someone will pick up the torch and become popular enough so the candidates will feel the same obligation to show up. Maybe the new torch bearer will carry it a little farther and hopefully it will light shine a little brighter.

    RIP. Mr. Russert, I hardly knew ye.

  70. Celebrity deaths usually do not phase me in the least, but for some reason Mr. Russert’s death has affected me. I am tremendously saddened by his passing, and feel that he is irreplaceable in a very real way. Truly a dark day for American Journalism.

    Looking at the comments on the various webpages reporting his death, i see that I am not alone in this sentiment. Somehow, by spending a few hours each sunday with Mr. Russert, it seems as if tens of thousands of Americans have come to trust and respect him in a way few other television journalists can match. My prayers to his family and friends.

  71. FOR THE RECORD, humor-impaired douchebags, the James Lipton crack IS A JOKE. How anyone could think I was serious is, seriously, beyond me. Every time I think a particular joke is serious-proof, some moron shows up to show me it isn’t. Why do I bother?

    At least LMNOP appreciates my Lipton humor.

  72. a pusher of conventional wisdom

    When you’re in Washington that long you inevitably become part of the machine, or dare I say: part of the problem. Want guests to keep coming to your show? Don’t be too mean, don’t bring up uncomfortable truths and god forbid don’t ask them to define the constitutional limits of government. Keep it dumb and superficial and win the weekly ratings battle, because that’s what’s really important in showbiz news.

  73. At least LMNOP appreciates my Lipton humor.

    Nah, I appreciate the humor, too. I liked Will Sasso’s impression of Lipton on Madtv and hell, I even liked Lipton’s guest spots on Arrested Development.

  74. Well, it’s aproxiametly twentyfour hours later and no facts refuting my assertion and some support.
    Looks like I win again.

  75. Call me crazy but does anyone suspect an Obama curse? Tim Russert was gaga over Obama and now he’s dead. Ted Kennedy invented Obama and he’s got a brain tumor. From Wisconsin to Iowa to Indiana to Kansas to Florida and beyond it seems many natural disasters – fires, tornadoes, floods – are hitting the counties that went for Obama. Who or what’s next? I’m staying on the sidelines till I feel it’s safe.

  76. Hey, Diane Lander-Simon. John Hagee called. He wants his paranoid delusion back.

    If you were being facetious, I apologize.

  77. “FOR THE RECORD, humor-impaired douchebags”

    Look, Nonemoticonus, don’t think you’re a comedy genius just because you watched every episode of Seinfeld. It isn’t my fault that you haven’t learned to smirk in print effectively.

    I’m sure you’ve a very nice fellow who walks his dog twice a day. We can be friends yet.

  78. For me the only Obama curse I can see is that he’s so close to being able to hear ‘Hail to the Chief’ every time he gets off a plane.

    He’s got me so scared I’m afraid to step on a crack lest I break my white mother’s back.

  79. Russert has officially been sainted.
    Nothing to see here. Move along.

  80. Call me crazy but does anyone suspect an Obama curse? Tim Russert was gaga over Obama and now he’s dead. Ted Kennedy invented Obama and he’s got a brain tumor. … Who or what’s next?

    David Weigel? 😉 I’d be scheduling a thorough medical exam and taking a long vacation about now if I were him.

  81. Jesus Christ, Welch — you can’t even let Russert pass away in peace without drawing him into your sick anti-McCain obsession.

    Have you no shame? At long last, sir, have you no shame?

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