June 13, 2008

"Tim Russert Is Dead of a Heart Attack, His Family Says."

That is the headline at the NYT.

I'm genuinely shocked. That's terribly sad.

ADDED: I can't imagine following American political news without Russert. He had such a distinctive touch — especially in presenting the presidential campaigns. It hardly seems right to keep watching the 2008 race without him watching it alongside us. He made it feel so immediate and alive. Death makes things like elections seem small, and yet, it feels really sad that he didn't get to see who won.

AND: The tributes on TV, on all the channels, are inspiring. What a great man. One thing that keeps coming up is that he went to law school. He was one of those people — an interesting crowd — who left the law but brought something of the law to another field. Asking those questions the way he did — there was some law in that.


Middle Class Guy said...

Yes, it is very sad and a great loss. Mr. Russert was a fine journalist and writer.

Revenant said...

That's pretty shocking. I feel sorry for his family. :(

Jenny D. said...

Wow. This is a real loss. My heart goes out to his family, colleagues, and to all of us who benefited from his questions to the powers that be.

LarsPorsena said...

I'm shocked.
How did you find out so fast, AA?

BillHall said...

So close to Father's Day, too. Very sad.

TROBlog said...

My prayers go out to his family.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Eternal rest grant unto him and may perpetual light shine upon him.

May his soul, and the soul of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace.

EnigmatiCore said...

And Chris Matthews lives...

Hazy Dave said...

Quite a shocker, that. I hope I don't die at work - there's no telling how long it would take someone to notice.

AJ Lynch said...

Jeez - and his poor father, Big Russ, is still alive too!

I was watching Russert recently and a guest made a comment about Big Russ suggesting Big Russ was deceased.

Tim Russert hesitated a minute - I assume he was a bit incredulous- then Tim replied to his guest that Big Russ was right outside in the NBC parking lot. The guest quickly apologized for his error.

save_the_rustbelt said...

We never know.

I'm a year younger. More exercise, fewer fries.

This will not be easy for his family or his NBC family.

So sad.

titusweekend said...

How very sad. What a loss.

I am shocked.

He will be missed by many.

His passion and excitement about politics made it more interesting to watch.

Michael_H said...

The arm wrestling between Matthews and Olbermann for the Sunday morning slot will begin before the funeral has ended.

The Drill SGT said...

Classy guy and the epitome of a well prepared reporter. as opposed to a pretty face news reader or a blow hard bolivator

not many reporters out there like Tim

Go in Peace Tim

John Stodder said...

I can't think of a broadcast journalist right now whose death could affect me like Russert's. I felt like I knew the guy.

His approach, roasting guests with their own words, was obviously something he believed in, and he did it masterfully. But his Saturday show on MSNBC was far more nuanced and involving than Meet the Press, and I'll miss that more.

Needless to say, the death of this entirely respectable journalist creates an opening for the disgraceful Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, and I hope NBC realizes a grown-up needs to be brought in to keep those two on the fringe where they belong. I realize it has to be a liberal, but I hope it's someone like Al Hunt who respects the role of journalism as Russert did.

rhhardin said...

That makes the MSM slightly more conservative, I guess.

I mean, fine, but it's another celebrity death, among thousands and thousands today.

But then I don't watch TV at all.

He's on Imus occasionally, and was one of the first to disown Imus for his Rutgers observation. Mike and the Mad Dog, taking over Imus's show temporarily, started ``One thing we know: Don had the phoniest group of guests in the history of Radio, because they have run for them there hills all over America -- I've never seen a bigger group of clowns in my life, and number one is Tim Russert, who is not only the biggest phoney, if I ever hear another thing about that dopey old man of his, I'm not interested in Big Jake or whatever his name was, Big Russ -- it's not his fault his kid doesn't have any guts, nice guy -- maybe he was but he raised a kid who doesn't have any courage, what a disgrace..'' There's the Russert legacy. Live by soap opera, die by soap opera.

So I got no value out of him. Not that that's wrong, he got none out of me either. We don't know each other. He's not my neighbor, friend or family. And I'm not in the soap opera business.

But it's a great news story, isn't it. Very entertaining for the weekend.

One can shudder at the prospect of a Princess Di week or two though, coming up.

Message to America : get a grip. Despite appearances, nobody much actually cares.

The question is whether there will be a gender divide on this one.

rhhardin said...

Imus recently on why Russert was back on the show but Harold Ford wasn't, both equally disloyal to Imus.

``We need Russert. We don't need Harold Ford.''

jimbino said...

He was a great guy--one whom I'd like to think would reject the "I'll pray for him (Catholic)" or "I'll pray for his family" bullshit.

Irene said...

How dreadful this must be for Tim Russert's entire family, but especially his father.

garage mahal said...

I can imagine Russert drilling Thomas Jefferson or Lincoln with some Lexis searches right now with some inconsequential gotcha questions.

"In 1789 you wrote a letter to....."

vbspurs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vbspurs said...

(Sorry I've been away guys. I'm buying a car, and my time has been selective this past week)

vbspurs said...

I cannot express to you how shocked I am.

Peter Jennings' death, sad to say, we all expected. He was noticeably hoarse the last months of his telecast.

Those of you old enough to remember (as I am not but I know history) will no doubt be reminded of the sudden passing of Frank Reynolds, who Jennings succeeded at ABC.

Even a short 20 years ago, personal maladies were handled more discretely by networks, so it came as a shock.

Charles Kuralt also died fairly suddenly.

Both of these men had that pre-Boomer talent of looking older than their years. Kuralt was just over 60, e.g.

Russert was a mere 58. And looked younger than his age, despite (or maybe because of) his chubbiness.

I remember being Althouse when Ann broke the news of Anna Nicole Smith's death.

In terms of shock value, this news surpassed it.

RIP Mr. Russert. The best of NBC...


(Reposted with corrections)

rhhardin said...

The MSNBC page ends

Check back soon for more on this breaking story.
© 2008 MSNBC Interactive

Aha, a complication for Princess Di treatment. NBC has the story edge over the competition.

What an opportunity!

There's something Russert would work.

Figure out who the audience would be and pander to it.

knoxwhirled said...

The news/politics industry will suffer greatly for this: there's just no replacement. He certainly was about the only one I could stand watching. Dang.

wgh said...

Oh wow I can't believe it... way too young! I always liked him.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

I'll never forget him and his silly but completely engaging little dry erase board where he'd break down the electoral college numbers or delegate counts. He brought a playful yet serious touch to political coverage, with no obvious partisanship or blowhard tactics. They don't make 'em like Russert anymore.

NBC is screwed.

The Drill SGT said...

rhhardin said...
That makes the MSM slightly more conservative, I guess.

I don't think so. Tim was liberal, but an honest reporter. In his profession, his loss likely moves the average Left, rather than right. says alot about the average.

said another way, a giant like Russert departs, and a Matthews or Olbermann steps in. That moves the professional average LEFT and downward.

rhhardin said...

The MSNBC video linked by Drudge (I get sound but no video) sampled, ``It's a shame it's right before father's day, he was voted father of the year..''

Gaak! It's Princess Di all right, who can avoid laughing out loud as they snap it off.

Media events should be studied remembering it's a business. Who are they hooking to sell to advertisers?

The trouble is that it's so unwatchable.

I predict an excellent John and Ken show today, starting at 18:00 Eastern Daylight they stream, or pick up the podcast tomorrow.

rhhardin said...

I don't think so. Tim was liberal, but an honest reporter.

He was into the news business model, which panders to a very specific audience.

Head of the news division. The buck stops here and all that.

There's an enormous bias in what stories get legs, owing to the target audience (women), which winds up making Russert a flaming liberal.

bearbee said...

When I started to stop watching network news, Russert was the last one I stop watching. A down-to-earth guy.

My fav was Robert MacNeil who chose to leave the PBS nightly MacNeil/ Leherer Newshour.

reader_iam said...

As I recall it, there was some controversy when Russert was hired by NBC back in the early '80s, because he was a relatively early example of one who moved from politics to journalism (he was a lawyer who worked for Daniel Patrick Moynihan and, I think, Cuomo?). This one of a number of senses in which I think Russert's experience and career trajectory tracks with journalism, media and political culture over the past quarter century, and this has fascinated me, from the start, because it happened to pretty closely coincide with my own adult obsession with media and politics.

What a shock this must be to his family, friends, colleagues, and even adversaries. His wife is Maureen Orth, of Vanity Fair, whose work I've also followed, and they have just one son, around Chris' age, Althouse. Very sad for them, and his dad, in particular. But it's also going to be weird not to have him in the political/journalism/punditry landscape anymore.

reader_iam said...

Hmm. I don't know about "flaming liberal." I think the early association with Daniel Patrick Moynihan--a classical liberal, not a progressive, and a brilliant man--is significant, and telling.

vbspurs said...

Oh wow I can't believe it... way too young! I always liked him.

One got a sense he was a little bit better, a little less nasty, a touch less biased, than the rest.

I didn't quite like him, I confess, but I respected him, and respect for another human being is so much more important than ephemeral likes and dislikes.

My blogpost tribute, Tim Russert - Dead.

Remember I recently posted a comment about Chris Matthews being nasty to wait staff? Well Russert was dining with David Gregory (he of Katrina-McClellan fame) when the latter allegedly heaped abuse on their waitress.

He told Gregory between clenched teeth, never do that in front of me again.

One could tell, this working-class Irish boy from Buffalo, was an okay kind of guy.


vbspurs said...

My fav was Robert MacNeil who chose to leave the PBS nightly MacNeil/ Leherer Newshour.

Wow, me too, Bearbee.

His History of the English Language, spoken with that incomparable Canadian baritone of his, just did it for me every time. I stopped watching the McNeil/Lehrer Report after he left.

Finn Kristiansen said...

This has me bummed. He was great when it came to politics, and you could see his excitement when he did his work. One of the last great newsmen.

reader_iam said...

rhhardin doesn't watch television, and yet is always the expert on those who appear on television and everything else having to do with the medium. It's to laugh. Makes about as much sense as his claimed expertise on females.

Now, off to read some news reportage; haven't done that yet: it somehow seemed fitting to first follow the initial breaking news via broadcast media.

Methadras said...

This is horrible news. Too young, too young. My God, he was one of the very few people on television I actually liked and could somewhat relate to. I'm truly stunned and dismayed at this news. Wow. May God rest his soul to find peace and happiness and may his family find solace in the fact that he was a good man who tried to do his best all the time. My heart is with them.

titusweekend said...

He died at work. I always think about where and when I will die.

If I thought of a way to go I don't think I would want to die at work.

I wouldn't be found for months and I think the rare clumbers would be forced to start eating me.

Beth said...

I've browsed through blogs left and right and am finding equally respectful expressions of sorrow and dismay. It appears Russert leaves behind a reputation of integrity. I hope that will inspire those who attempt to fill the vacuum his loss creates.

OldGrouchy said...

God bless Tim Russert's soul, he was a good man. The press corps will miss his fair touch!

vbspurs said...

On one of the blogs someone just mentioned bad things rarely happen on Friday the 13th.

But this kinda made up for it, for a while...

MadisonMan said...

I don't watch TV, but this is surprising. He appears to have had the same heart genes that run in my mom's family. Men die early.

Spread Eagle said...

Tim was liberal, but an honest reporter.

He was reasonably fair and objective, more so than just about anybody else I can think of in the MSM.

He was the one who popped the question to the Hillster in the debate last October, the one about Eliot Sptizer's drivers licenses for illegals program. She perseverated, dissembled, and disintegrated right on the spot, really the very precursing beginning of the end of her candidacy.

Something about his physical appearance always looked a little unhealthy to me.

vnjagvet said...

It was clear when you read his books that he loved his family.

It was clear when you watched him in action that he loved his work.

That is a pretty good legacy.

RIP Big Tim.

vbspurs said...

Something about his physical appearance always looked a little unhealthy to me.

Yes, shades of Marty Feldman (who suffered from Graves Disease...now there's an aptly-named condition), don't you think?

Hyperthyroidism produces that bulging eye look, though in Mr. Russert's case, I think it was just a question of genes.

Palladian said...

"I hope that will inspire those who attempt to fill the vacuum his loss create"

I can't imagine who will fill it. There's almost no one serious in the news business anymore. Hell, there's hardly anyone serious in any business anymore.

vbspurs said...

Bloggers are already wondering out loud:

Who will be his replacement on Meet The Press?

Short-listed: David Gregory, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, John Harwood, Chuck Todd or Andrea Mitchell.

Olbermann has a poor staying-at-one-place track record. And he's way too shrill. Matthews, I doubt it. Gregory, maybe. Harwood and Todd, haven't got much info on them. Andrea Mitchell might be the short-term replacement.

And since Katie Couric is all up in her industry's business about the sexist "bias" towards Hillary Clinton, maybe the network could woo her back to NBC...


garage mahal said...

One could tell, this working-class Irish boy from Buffalo, was an okay kind of guy.

He died a long way from Buffalo - watching the swells in Nantucket w/ Chris Matthews comparing Mercedes and finding the finest penne arrabbiatta. Maybe not the right time, but personally I always thought there was something a bit unseemly about him repeatedly selling Big Russ to boast his own authenticity to the masses.

reader_iam said...

Radio Equalizer reports this comment from Rush Limbaugh:
"He was the closest thing there was at any of the networks to an objective journalist."

bearbee said...

I stopped watching the McNeil/Lehrer Report after he left.

I watch only occasionally and then only a segment here and there.

MacNeil was the most fair, the most balanced, the most objective. A truth seeker...

This incident from Wikipedia:

He then headed towards the nearest building and encountered a man leaving the Texas School Book Depository. He asked the man where the nearest telephone was and the man pointed and went on his way. MacNeil later learned the man he encountered at about 12:33 p.m. was Lee Harvey Oswald.

Meade said...

spread eagle said...
"Something about his physical appearance always looked a little unhealthy to me."


Susan said...

What John Stodder said.

And while I can't stand the Today show I always tuned in for the first half hour of it whenever political news broke to see his take on it.

He'll be missed.

Trooper York said...

Far be it for me to defend RH but he does have Russert pegged right. When the Imus dust up happened he was one of the first to throw him under the bus. He couldn't kiss Imus's ass enough when he was selling his books, but when he needed him he cut and ran. He was the epitome of the phony and the hypocrite. He tried to come off as the beefy Irish blue collar guy but he was just another yuppie weasel. When one of your friends gets jammed up you don't dump him like a hot potato and run to kiss Al Sharptons ass. You stand tall and take the heat for your friend even when he’s wrong. I guess it was that lack of moral fiber that made him a model journalist. I don’t want to be a hypocrite in turn and praise a man I despised as a gold plated phony but I do hope and pray that God visits on his soul the mercy and compassion that he couldn’t find in his own heart.

George said...

His sudden death was heart breaking, literally.

It says something about his employer's self-absorption that it viewed his passing as such immense news that it felt the need to interrupt regularly scheduled programming. I wonder if Mr. Russert himself would have approved of such news judgment.

Roger J. said...

RIP, Tim Russert.

Oh please said...

Rhhardin today:

That makes the MSM slightly more conservative, I guess.

I mean, fine, but it's another celebrity death, among thousands and thousands today.

But then I don't watch TV at all.

Rhhardin on May 6, 2008:

Russert is more repulsive than even the candidates.

Meade said...
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Meade said...

I don't watch tv at all either. I'd be more shaken by RHHardin's death than Tim Russert's. And Trooper York's would send me into at least four of the five stages of grief.

UWS guy said...
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UWS guy said...

Doesn't look like we need Christopher Hitchens to make an appearance in this thread.

I'll miss his show. Peter Robinson, who does the "Uncommon Knowledge" Would be the best fit IMO. It's arguable that "the tim russert show" (mr. russerts more laid back program) was a bit of a knock off of Mr. Robinsons style.

Plus he's a tall man, which helps when pols try to intimidate interviewers (see: Clinton, William Jefferson).

rhhardin said...

The tributes on TV, on all the channels, are inspiring.

This has to be a gender divide.

The idea that they have a reason for wanting you to watch has faded below the appeal of the content.

The appeal of the content is where the gender divide happens.

rhhardin said...

``But then I don't watch TV at all.''

Rhhardin on May 6, 2008:

``Russert is more repulsive than even the candidates.''

That was a video clip linked to in the article.

My general disgust with TV is from being constantly addressed as a woman, if I can put it that way.

PatCA said...

I'm not surprised he went to law school - his interviews were like cross-examinations, in the best sense. There was something edifying and intensely pleasurable about watching his interviews, like watching an expert lawyer quietly, gloriously, demolish an adverse witness.

He would have been a very good lawyer; instead, he was a great journalist. Oh my, we - and journalism - will miss him.

Beth said...

My general disgust with TV is from being constantly addressed as a woman, if I can put it that way.

Put it any way you want, Mary.

Pogo said...

Weird. I had no idea some of the far left hated Russert. I just figured he was a typical left-center reporter, and never paid him much attention. Who knew the far left actually hated him? But then, they view everything through their 2mm NoWar viewfinder, and everything that falls outside their scope is evil, so it's understandable I guess. But still.

One cannot expect a courteous silence on the web when someone famous dies, especially someone deeply into politics. It's the mythology that is commented on, not in any sense a neighbor whose wife I would need to look in the eye afterwards.

Me? My own passing will be little noticed, and not long mourned. I will doubtless become another among the faceless dead, whose names and deeds are soon forgotten. All that will remain will be those things I was able to teach my children. How do I know? My office door nameplate is affixed with Velcro fer chrissakes.

Russert left a larger mark in this world than most. Howevermuch such praise is merely a house on sand, it's a way of giving death the finger, even if he doesn't entirely deserve the accolades himself.

Simon said...

vbspurs said...
"Who will be his replacement on Meet The Press?"

The impossibility of finding a credible replacement bespeaks the loss we suffer in his passing. I have nothing else to add to what I said in Ann's other thread on Russert.

ron st.amant said...

What lousy news.
I just lost my father two weeks ago. No child, no matter what age, needs such loss so close to Father's Day.
Peace Be With You, Mr. Russert.

Simon said...

Ron, I'm so sorry to hear that - my sympathies to you and yours.

LoafingOaf said...

One thing that keeps coming up is that he went to law school.

I went to the same law school as Russert (Cleveland-Marshall), though many, many years later. It's not one of the bigshot law schools. It has a lot of unconventional law students. Our school has been very proud of producing Russert and Russert gave back to his school. I remember thinking more than once: "The guy who's grilling our country's leaders each Sunday sat in these very classrooms, so while this may not be a top tier, name-brand school, the sky is still the limit."

vbspurs said...

Christ, Ron, I'm so sorry. So close to Father's Day, as you say.

I think when my old man dies, I might just not leave my house for a year...we're a very close family.

May your dad rest in peace.


vbspurs said...

Bearbee: "12:33 p.m. was Lee Harvey Oswald."

Wow, are you serious? Famously, Dan Rather and Peter Jennings were present when Kennedy then Oswald were killed (Jennings was a few feet away from the latter, if memory serves). I don't know if either men was working for the CBC, but the Canadians certainly had all their top guys out that day.

UWS Guy: "Plus he's a tall man, which helps when pols try to intimidate interviewers."

That's not a lie. Bill O'Reilly is 6'4. David Gregory, 6'5. It must be daunting to face these huge men behind those desks, and be 5 foot nothing and a guy.

Simon: I'm dumbfounded to find out some on the Left didn't like him. It reminds me of that Kos Kidz eruption at ABC, when Stephanopolous and Gibson went easy on Hillary. They called for boycotts...

There's something seriously wrong with these people.

Simon said...

Victoria said...
"It reminds me of that Kos Kidz eruption at ABC, when Stephanopolous and Gibson went easy on Hillary. They called for boycotts.

That eruption didn't surprise me, I'm afraid. They're simply following in the trajectory of their intellectual lineage.