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Tim Russert Dies At 58 196

Posted by Soulskill
from the never-stop-asking dept.
SputnikPanic writes "Tim Russert, NBC News' Washington bureau chief and moderator of the popular Sunday talk program Meet the Press, has died of an apparent heart attack. He was 58. Russert was known as an even-handed journalist who did not shy away from asking direct and often difficult questions of politicians regardless of their political persuasion. Earlier this year, Russert had been named by Time Magazine as one of the '100 most influential people in the world.'"
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Tim Russert Dies At 58

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  • by Martin Blank (154261) on Friday June 13, 2008 @06:13PM (#23785773) Journal
    I always looked forward to how Russert handled interviews and debates. Left or right, loony or sane, one always got a fair hand from him. He'd get on anyone who was hiding something, but I don't know of many who left his presence angry.

    He was a rarity in the world of political journalism.
    • by Veramocor (262800) on Friday June 13, 2008 @06:19PM (#23785855)
      I fully agree. Tim Russert was the embodiment of what 'fair and balanced' should mean. He asked probing questions, slammed politicians with fact based evidence when they flip flopped or lied, liberal and conservative. If all journalists were like him our countries politics would be much better on both sides.
    • by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday June 13, 2008 @06:21PM (#23785885) Homepage Journal
      "I always looked forward to how Russert handled interviews and debates. Left or right, loony or sane, one always got a fair hand from him. He'd get on anyone who was hiding something, but I don't know of many who left his presence angry.

      He was a rarity in the world of political journalism."

      I have to agree....I loved to watch him on Meet The Press. He asked tough questions, and wouldn't generally let the guest doubletalk their way out of not answering...and I thought he was nothing but fair no matter which side of the aisle the guest was. Damn....

      Man...so many famous people are dropping like flies last month or two...Bo Diddley, Harvey Korman, etc. Those guys were quite old, long lives...but, Tim was so young looking. I'd not heard he'd had any health problems....wow.

      R.I.P., you'll be missed.

      :(

    • Completely agreed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by StarKruzr (74642) on Friday June 13, 2008 @06:46PM (#23786245) Journal
      The world of political news, especially with this historic national election coming up, will be poorer for his passing. I wish he could have lived to see it and report on it.
  • Quite sad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SuperBry (1242668)
    America has just lost one of the last great newsmen out there. I know my sunday mornings wont be quite the same.
  • RIP, Tim (Score:5, Interesting)

    by justanyone (308934) on Friday June 13, 2008 @06:14PM (#23785781) Homepage Journal
    The irony is, on his show recently someone referred to his dad, "Big Russ", as being deceased. Tim had to correct him.
  • by MillenneumMan (932804) on Friday June 13, 2008 @06:16PM (#23785831)
    Virtually no one in news asks candidates and newsmakers the tough questions anymore. You could always count on Tim to throw hardballs every time. He also was very good at ignoring spin when he didn't get a straight answer. Great interviewer and moderator. Condolences to his family and friends, he certainly was taken before his time.
    • by Martin Blank (154261) on Friday June 13, 2008 @07:00PM (#23786447) Journal
      Most reporters are terrified of not being able to get an interview at the next request. Tim was a great example of someone who could rake a guest over the coals and yet have them leaving with the words, "Until next time." And next time could be only a few weeks later.
    • by crashfrog (126007) <crashfrog@noSPAm.gmail.com> on Saturday June 14, 2008 @12:26PM (#23792159) Homepage
      Ok, now that the "24-hour-can't-say-anything-critical-about-a-dead-man" period is over, can I just ask - huh? Are you sure you're talking about the right Tim Russert?

      I remember a Tim Russert who insisted in open court that his personal journalistic philosophy was that, when talking to a public official, anything that was said was implicitly off the record unless that public official said that it could go on the record, explicitly.

      I remember a Tim Russert who adamantly refused to testify during the Libby trial, who refused to testify against a source who had committed treason against the United States (according to George HW Bush), a Russert who privileged his own journalistic access to the nation's elites over the interests of the people his journalism was meant to serve.

      I remember a Russert who, in 2004, basically rolled over for the President. I don't remember any "hardballs"; I remember a craven submission [salon.com] to the bamboozlement of an administration he, along with the rest of his Beltway buddies, allowed to lie to us for years.

      I remember a Tim Russert who the Bush administration knew was a sympathetic media outlet to their talking points, a Tim Russert whose "Meet the Press" was a preferred venue because, in the words of a top Cheney aide, they could "control the message." [salon.com]

      I can't for the life if me imagine how you remember Russert as some kind of dogged truth-seeker who stuck politicians to the sticking place. Those of us who were paying attention to his show know that Russert was at the head of the destruction of American journalism; the leader of an abdication of their responsibilities as the Fifth Estate.

      Who the fuck are you talking about? Because it wasn't, in any way, Tim Russert, official stenographer for the Bush Administration.

      P.S. Maybe he was a great dad, and a great guy, I don't know. I feel bad for his father, I really do. But this Tim Russert you keep talking about, the one who was so brave and asked such probing questions... well, I sure as hell wished that Tim Russert had actually existed, instead of the craven, obsequious Tim Russert we actually had on Meet the Press, because maybe with a media that actually did it's job we wouldn't be in so many of the messes we're in.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by anilg (961244)
        Apropos of nothing, www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwyCcGse8WE
      • I remember a Tim Russert who insisted in open court that his personal journalistic philosophy was that, when talking to a public official, anything that was said was implicitly off the record unless that public official said that it could go on the record, explicitly.

        A journalist with a belief structure? Oh noes!

        I remember a Tim Russert who adamantly refused to testify during the Libby trial, who refused to testify against a source who had committed treason against the United States (according to George HW Bush), a Russert who privileged his own journalistic access to the nation's elites over the interests of the people his journalism was meant to serve.

        Seems to me he did testify, regardless of his wishes that you speak about, and was one of the star witnesses. I'm not gonna give you specific links because there's tons of articles on it since he was on the stand for a few days as I remember. Most people think that it was really Cheney's mistake, maybe that's the reason Russert didn't want to testify. Let's also not forget that the same guy who you say thought Libby committed treason commuted his sentence [washingtonpost.com],

        • by crashfrog (126007)
          A journalist with a belief structure?

          A belief structure entirely at odds with his responsibilities as a member of the Fifth Estate.

          You do understand the role of the media in a democratic society, yes? Surely you can see how implicit confidentiality with powerful elites undermines those responsibilities?

          The interview is done, and the moderator will likely never get another interview like it from anyone.

          It's his job to get the interviews whether people want to give them or not. The relationship between the pr
          • Do you listen to yourself while you rave, or do you just kind of fade in and out? Your own double-talk would be laughable if it weren't so scary.

            <quote>A belief structure entirely at odds with his responsibilities as a member of the Fifth Estate.</quote>

            <quote>Protecting sources is only important when it serves the interests of the people.</quote>

            <p>So which one is right? Russert is evil while Novak is awesome? Does the law only apply to you when it involves you, otherwise e
            • by crashfrog (126007)
              So which one is right?

              Both are right. Where's the contradiction? Russert had responsibilities as a journalist in a democratic society.

              One of those responsibilities is to defend the confidentiality of sources when it's in the interest of the people, and to break that confidentiality when it's in the interest of the people.

              Russert had it completely backwards. He broke that confidentiality when he thought it would serve Libby's interest, and then went back and tried to hide behind that confidentiality when he
              • I know quite a bit about HTML tags, my downfall is apparently down-drop menus. Thank you very much =)

                Sure. Josh Marshall won a Polk award for his almost single-handed coverage of the US Attorneys scandal. Just because Russert was at the head of a concerted effort by the mainstream press to abdicate their responsibilities as newsmen doesn't mean everybody has to follow suit.

                People who think the US Attorney Scandal was really a "scandal" also think the Iraq War is really a "war". For all your archaic English you misunderstand the meaning of the current words. But... I guess... congratulations... you're the one voice of reason in the throng. You've successfully, slightly, picked apart the character of one man for one or two insignificant incidents that didn't really mean an

                • by crashfrog (126007)
                  People who think the US Attorney Scandal was really a "scandal" also think the Iraq War is really a "war".

                  Firing qualified attorneys because they refuse to take part in political witchhunts would count as a major scandal under any other president (and was, under Clinton, if you'll remember) - it's only by juxtaposition with the rest of the Bush administration's criminal level of incompetence and corruption that the USA scandal seems tame.

                  The Iraq War is not a war? What?

                  For all your archaic English you misu
  • rip (Score:2, Insightful)

    by siculars (103175)
    good man, great reporter.
    • Re:rip (Score:4, Insightful)

      by lilfields (961485) on Friday June 13, 2008 @07:52PM (#23786995) Homepage
      I'd have to say he was actually a great man and a great reporter...from what I know of the man he was a good father and an excellent role model.

      R.I.P. Tim, you will be sorely missed, not only on election nights, but on Sunday mornings. And though I'm not a Buffalo Bills fan...in your honor I say...Go Bills...
  • by gnarlyhotep (872433) on Friday June 13, 2008 @06:21PM (#23785891)
    Tim Russert was one of the few journalists today who are worthy of that name. Hearkening back to the proud traditions of Walter Kronkite and Edward R Murrough, who asked tough questions of big players who could normally intimidate or frighten their way out of being asked the questions.

    Instead, we're left with Barbara Walters asking what sort of tree people would be, and persisting.

    Another blow to quality journalism in America.
  • A sad day. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by molo (94384) on Friday June 13, 2008 @06:38PM (#23786137) Journal
    Meet The Press was my Sunday morning staple, and it was because of Tim Russert. NBC will be hard pressed to find someone to fill his shoes.

    I'll never forget Russert on the NBC coverage of the 2000 presidential election. Early in the evening, Russert wrote on his little whiteboard "Florida, Florida, Florida!" before anyone had any idea how close it was going to be. I stayed up with Russert and Brokaw that night until the next dawn, hoping to find out who the next president would be. Of course there were no conclusions, but Russert's exploration of the electoral college system and the implications of the vote returns were insightful and kept me watching.

    Russert wasn't afraid of asking tough questions to powerful people. When they would try to weasel their way out of a direct answer, he would ask again, and again if necessary. If only all journalists would have that kind of conviction.

    He will be missed. My condolences to his family.

    -molo
  • RIP (Score:5, Informative)

    by billy8988 (1049032) on Friday June 13, 2008 @06:42PM (#23786193)
    Sad news indeed.
    Here is his interview on Readers Digest a while back.
    http://www.rd.com/poll-archive-parent/games-and-humor/celebrities-and-pop-culture/politicians/tim-russert/article26850.html [rd.com]

    My fav. part is

    After he was named moderator of Meet the Press in 1991, Russert called Larry Spivak, one of the show's original panelists, for advice. "Learn as much as you can about your guest, and his or her position on the issues," Spivak said. "Then take the other side. If you do that, you will have a fair and balanced program."

    I think he followed that mantra throughout.
    My wife and I had only one TV program in common...alas..our sundays won't be same.

    RIP Mr. Russert.

  • by FatJuggles (1206940) on Friday June 13, 2008 @06:55PM (#23786375)
    He called Bill Clinton the Democratic nominee early for the '92 election...called Florida the "must win" state in 2000, and you could always count on him saying something that sounded like it was from left feild but would come true in a few months.

    A few days ago, after Obama secured the nomination, I saw him smile a little while talking about him on Nightly News. Smiling not for the candidate, but I think he was really, really, really excited that he would might see a black man get elected president of his great country in HIS lifetime. He looked like a little kid...sad he did not live to see what will be.

    Didn't know him personally, but great journalist. A lot will miss him.

  • One of the best (Score:4, Interesting)

    by debatem1 (1087307) on Friday June 13, 2008 @07:00PM (#23786469)
    While I doubt any of his family or friends is going to see this, for what it's worth, my condolences go to you.

    Tim Russert was both an amazing man and an incredible journalist- a tremendous asset to the fourth estate, our nation, and the world. His unique blend of hard-hitting questions and high standard of impartiality have made our politics richer, our people better informed, and our politicians that much more honest.

    Without any doubt, Mr.Russert's passing is a terrible blow to the once-noble profession of journalism. He will be sorely missed both by those who knew him well and by those of us who knew only the good he did in the public eye. His death, early as it was, should be taken by all of us as a reminder of our transience, and of the need to preserve the work of our lives for the generations that come after us. Tim Russert's great work, the great effort of his life, was to restore to journalism the spirits of integrity, honesty, and candor that once characterized the mighty fourth estate. It would be a great shame to his memory if those spirits were to die with him; if, in the absence of the man himself, we allow his dreams to wither.

    For everyone reading this, I hope you can find a way to honor a man who worked so hard to make this world a better place in which to live- to build upon his life's work, and to bring even one more iota of honesty to the political process. Register a voter, write a letter to your representative or the editor of your newspaper, join a campaign- and always ask the hard questions. I don't think he would've liked anything better.

    RIP, Tim. If you see God, I hope you get an exclusive.
  • RIP (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mark72005 (1233572) on Friday June 13, 2008 @07:06PM (#23786529)
    I respected Tim Russert a great deal. He was one of the few out there who still seemed like he wanted to do hard news and prevent bias as much as he could.
  • by rbanzai (596355) on Friday June 13, 2008 @07:54PM (#23787017)
    It makes me sad to see people memorializing Russert as a giant of journalism. At best he was a non-abrasive talker tossing softballs. The standard for journalism only seems to get lower and lower.

    It's too bad he has died but it's only bad for journalism because so many of his competitors are loudmouth idiots. A calm demeanor has been enough to make him look like Walter Cronkite but for those of us with longer memories Russert is not notable.
    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday June 13, 2008 @08:48PM (#23787439)

      A calm demeanor has been enough to make him look like Walter Cronkite but for those of us with longer memories Russert is not notable.
      I'd have to agree.

      And I'd recommend reading Scott McClellan's book to see how the press was manipulated. And is still being manipulated.

      McClellan's book also has about the only decent quote from Russert about Gulf War II.

      Lou Dobbs asks harder questions about immigration almost every single week than Russert ever did about the war.

      Jon Stewart is the best journalist we have and he's limited by whatever he can turn into a joke.
    • It seems to exemplify what is wrong with modern journalism/punditry. They're acting as if Russert wasn't just the guy telling the story, he was a part of the story.

      This was worthy of a breaking news bit, and some coverage on the 6pm news, along with a memorial 2 hour special a week later. But they've been going on non stop since like 4 pm this afternoon.

      I doubt Walter Cronkhite will ever get this kind of coverage when he dies, and he was 10 times the reporter all of these people are I see on the tubes tod
  • Didn't Stephen Colbert recently make fun of a Hillary Clinton aid for making threats at Tim Russert's dad, saying that they'll put him in heaven if Russert doesn't play nice with them? (Damn. It was just a week or two ago...)
  • Am I the only one who thought Russert was the spitting image of Jimmy James from Newsradio?
  • Russert was probably the best news interviewer on US TV. Unfortunately in all the interviews I saw him conduct he didn't push the interviewee as well as an average UK one, for candidates from any party. His great virtue, I think, was his evenhandedness, but that came at the expense of pushing for the truth. A sad event, even so.
  • This is not news for nerds

    It is for me. I learned how to build a MythTV PVR for the sole purpose of recording _Meet The Press_. That and _The Daily Show_. Some of my Linux expertise can be directly linked to Tim Russert.

    He had good days and bad. Some interviews were harder some softer. One interview that still pisses me off was the interview with Dick Cheney and he's helping to hold up drawings of elaborate underground bunkers. It appeared, at least to me, he was swallowing it hook line and sinker. He gave Cheney a voice that I

  • Viewing from afar (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cinnaman (954100)
    I used to watch this regularly on Channel 7 (in Australia) when it aired at 2am, I liked the way Russert would let the guest respond to a question and move on, I always think this is far more effective (if the response is BS) than trying to debate the point and get the person to acknowledge they may be wrong.

    I had my fill of US politics a while back but Meet the Press made for good Sunday night viewing for Americanophiles. Some episodes were very entertaining and others not so entertaining, and I found it i
  • Bruce gave a tribute to him from the stage at Cardiff last night. It's on the front page of his website http://www.brucespringsteen.net/news/index.html [brucespringsteen.net].
    ian
  • I know that for you US guys this must be an iconic figure.

    But that Time names a US interviewer, that few people out of the US know, one of the *world's* most influential people, just comes to show the complete and utter lack of journalistic integrity in your country, where the press has stopped to inform you and instead patronizes you and gives you frequent pats in the back.

    If this individual was raising the bar a little it is indeed bad news his early demise.
  • I, like a few others in this thread, don't think of Mr. Russert as a journalist at all, let alone a tough incisive one. However, most of the people posting in the thread have only high praise for his objectivity. Can you direct me to any inteviews by Russert that demonstrate this? Asking questions about real issues that demanded thoughtful answers? Pressing guests in the face of evasive answers? Most of what I see from "tough" journalists is comprised of questions about what I'd call distractions. The

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