Friday, June 13, 2008

R.I.P. Tim Russert

Sunday mornings just won't be the same. Tim Russert has died suddenly of an apparent heart attack.


Host of the program since 1991, Russert was known as the hardest-working journalist in Washington. He collapsed Friday at the office, while preparing for the next show, and efforts to revive him at the hospital failed, his internist said.

Tim Russert was the giant of political journalism.

He made Meet the Press the gold standard of the Sunday talk shows, indeed of any serious television interviewing. He was the model for how to prepare for an interview and how to conduct it on air:

He wrote memorably about his Buffalo upbringing and his father's influence on him in his memoir Big Russ and Me. As one of his NBC colleagues, Lisa Myers, once said of him, "Buffalo is a critical secret to understanding him," and he himself cited his Jesuit education as critically formative.

The Jesuits are inextricably linked to questioning, and so was Russert. Meet the Press was an institution long before he came to it in 1991, but he made it his own by becoming known for aggressively questioning his Washington guests. In his trademark prosecutorial style — he earned a law degree before going to work as a political aide for New York Senator Patrick Moynihan in the 1970s — he held his guests to account for inconsistent past statements and doggedly followed up on evasions.


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Jim Wallis

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