In Memoriam: Tim Russert

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Constantly updating below…

Awful, awful news today: FishbowlDC has confirmed that NBC’s Tim Russert has passed away following a heart attack.

Our thoughts remain with his family and, as one Russert friend told FishbowlDC, ‘for all the people he’s helped and loved.’

As we continue to cover this, feel free to send your memories of Russert in our tips box or by dropping us an email.

Our full coverage after the jump…


>UPDATE: From TVNewser…”Around 1pmET this afternoon, Russert was conducting a political Q&A on MSNBC.com. We’re told Russert collapsed while in the tracking booth at the Washington bureau. Russert was 58 years old.”

>Tom Brokaw on NBC: “He elevated everybody in this bureau.” “We cannot believe that he’s gone.” We cannot believe that we’ve lost his voice.”

>Brokaw says that Maureen Orth (Tim’s wife) and his son, Luke, are back from Italy, where the Russerts had been vacationing.

>It looks like Tim Russert’s Wikipedia page may have actually been the first to break the tragic news.

>Brian Williams on MSNBC: “He believed in transparency, he believed in showing how we do this. … The viewers should know what we’re up to.”

>Brokaw: “We didn’t always see eye to eye, but we worked it out.”

>The last guests on “Meet”: NBC’s Ron Allen, Lee Cowan, David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell, Kelly O’Donnell and Chuck Todd.

>Williams: The Newseum may be come to symbolize Russert, since it was partly his idea.

>Brokaw: “He was a very tough interrogator but he would keep his very strong opinions to himself.”

>Brokaw: “His big regret is that he never got Bruce Springsteen on the program.”

>David Gregory: “The world is going to react to this, namely the world of politics.”

>Dana Perino: “The president and Mrs. Bush are deeply saddened to hear about the death of Tim Russert.”

>Gregory: “My initial thoughts are about his love for his family. … If you wanted to talk about your kids — yours or his — he’d stop and talk.”

>Andrea Mitchell: “This relationship with his son is the central part of his life. … When people were in trouble … the first person you would go to … the bureau chief was such a father figure.

>TVNewser has some coverage of other networks’ coverage.

>From NBC’s Jeff Zucker:

    We are heartbroken at the sudden passing of Tim Russert. We have lost a beloved member of our NBC Universal family and the news world has lost one of its finest. The enormity of this loss cannot be overstated. More than a journalist, Tim was a remarkable family man. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Maureen, their son, Luke, and Tim’s entire extended family.

>Mitchell: “Our hearts are broken.”

>Williams: “He won the lottery in life.”

>Rep. David Obey:

    Tim Russert’s death is not just a body blow for NBC News, it is a body blow for the nation and for anyone who cherishes newsmen and women who have remained devoted to reporting hard news in an era increasingly consumed by trivia. He was a great newsman and a great human being.

>Statement from the president:

    Laura and I are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Tim Russert. Those of us who knew and worked with Tim, his many friends, and the millions of Americans who loyally followed his career on the air will all miss him.

    As the longest-serving host of the longest-running program in the history of television, he was an institution in both news and politics for more than two decades. Tim was a tough and hardworking newsman. He was always well-informed and thorough in his interviews. And he was as gregarious off the set as he was prepared on it.

    Most important, Tim was a proud son and father, and Laura and I offer our deepest sympathies to his wife Maureen, his son Luke, and the entire Russert family. We will keep them in our prayers.

>Dana Perino tells FishbowlDC:

    I have admired and watched tim for many years — and learned a lot from him as well. I am so sad for my colleagues at NBC. I know he was a wonderful person who everyone looked up to. I will have his family and friends firmly in my thoughts and prayers.

>Chris Cillizza reflects:

    I had the pleasure of appearing on Tim’s show on CNBC and MSNBC a handful of times and the honor of sharing the “Meet the Press” table with him as well. I did not know him well, but I looked up to and admired the hell out of him, so getting the chance to talk politics with him was a rare treat for a young journalist like myself.

    What I came away with each time after an appearance with Tim was that he was someone, like me, who loved the political game, who took pleasure in the day-to-day trench warfare of the campaign, who worked his sources to make sure he got the most up to date information to his viewers and who loved hearing from new voices offering fresh perspective on the political process.

>Andrea Mitchell chokes up on air, talking about how Russert calls her “Mitch,” a nickname that only her dad uses. “It is impossible to believe that he is not with us.”

>Sen. John McCain:


    U.S. Senator John McCain today issued the following statement on the sudden and tragic passing of Tim Russert:

    I am very saddened by Tim Russert’s sudden death. Cindy and I extend our thoughts and prayers to the Russert family as they cope with this shocking loss and remember the life and legacy of a loving father, husband and the preeminent political journalist of his generation. He was truly a great American who loved his family, his friends, his Buffalo Bills, and everything about politics and America. He was just a terrific guy. I was proud to call him a friend, and in the coming days, we will pay tribute to a life whose contributions to us all will long endure.

>From ABC’s David Westin:

    Tim Russert was a great newsman who helped set the standard for political reporting and public affairs programming. His fine work made all of us better and benefited the Nation as a result. Tim was also a great friend to so many of us. But above all, Tim was a man devoted to his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and everyone at NBC News at this devastating time

>From NBC News’ Steve Capus:

    This is a loss for the entire nation. Everyone at NBC News is in shock and absolutely devastated. He was our respected colleague, mentor, and dear friend. Words can not express our heartbreak. Our thoughts and prayers are with Maureen, Luke, Big Russ and all of Tim’s family.

>Olbermann: I don’t know that I’ve ever met anybody who enjoyed what he did more than Tim.

>Mitchell: “There is no turnover at the Meet the Press. No one leaves that show.”

>Olbermann: “It seems like such an extraordinary thing to be talking about Tim Russert dying…”

>Fineman: “It’s almost impossible to wrap your brain around the fact that he’s been taken from us.”

>Doris Kearns Goodwin tells the Observer:

    “I feel so bad,” she said. “He was such a good friend.”

    “Somebody just called from the television studio and said have you heard the horrible news about Tim and I thought he must have been in a plane crash. That he had a heart attack and just died. It’s incomprehensible.”

    “He’s a giant and he’s the best,” she said. “I loved him.”

Fineman:

    “I’m in complete, shock,” said NBC News Analyst Howard Fineman.

    He said when he heard the news he thought about a dinner he had shared with Mr. Russert a few months ago in Florida on the campaign trail. They were in the thick of the campaign, and heatedly talking about politics. But every so often, Mr. Russert would excuse himself to talk on the phone with his ailing father back in Buffalo. After he got off the phone, Mr. Russert explained.

    “He said, I’ve got this thing set up back in Buffalo where I have a group of people who six or seven times every day stop by to see him. The key to it is that my dad doesn’t know that I’ve done all this. He thinks all these people are just dropping in on him. Tim was allowing his father to stay in his home, in the home where he had lived for forty or fifty years, where Tim had grown up.

    “The fact that his dad now has to see his beloved son die at a relatively young age like this…,” Mr. Fineman paused. “It’s just shocking.”

>Columbia Journalism Review looks back

>John Harwood on MSNBC: He never forgot people on the ground. … The constant references to the Buffalo Bills, that wasn’t a put on. That was real about Tim. … The contribution that he made to our business was pretty profound. … If you could pass the Tim Russert test, you could do something in this business.

>Judy Woodruff tells FishbowlDC: “I’m devastated; have no words to express what a loss this is. Tim was not only the household name, TV celebrity and hard-charging political reporter — he had a heart of pure gold — was always there when a friend was in need. When I think of Tim I think of his big heart, how much he loved his wife Maureen, their son Luke, his family and close friends.”

>Rep. John Boehner:

    Tim Russert was so much more than the longest-serving moderator in history of NBC’s Meet the Press. He was a loyal and loving son. He was a devoted husband and father. He was one of the smartest, toughest television news journalists of all time. And he was an astute student of American politics.

    I can say from experience that joining Tim on Meet the Press was one of the greatest tests any public official could face. Regardless of party affiliation, he demanded that you be straight with him – and with the American people who were watching. Tim’s ‘white board’ analysis of the Electoral College has become a fixture on election nights, and frankly, it is difficult to imagine what that night will be like without him this year.

    Tim’s place in my life extended far beyond politics, however. Reading about his relationship with his father in his book ‘Big Russ and Me’ not only led me to think back to experiences with my dad, but also led me to reflect on the special times I’ve shared with my own daughters as well. And on an even more personal note, I will always be grateful that Tim served as the master of ceremonies for the very first Boehner-Kennedy Dinner, the annual dinner I have hosted with Sen. Ted Kennedy to raise money for low-income students to attend Catholic grade schools in our nation’s capital.

    It goes without saying that Tim will be missed. And it goes without saying that Washington, DC and our nation’s political landscape will never be the same without him. My thoughts and prayers are with Tim’s family, his friends, and the entire NBC News family.

>Al Gore: “The world has lost a great journalist, interviewer and author.”

>Brokaw:

>Kurtz: “Tim Russert, the Democratic operative turned NBC commentator who revolutionized Sunday morning television and infused journalism with his passion for politics, died this afternoon.”

>Obama: “I considered him not only a journalist but a friend. There wasn’t a better interviewer on television, a more thoughtful analysts about politics. … I am grief-stricken with loss and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

>Joel Achenbach on Russert:

    The gap between Tim and everyone else was such that it’s hard to even think of who would be number two on that list.

    He was also a fun guy to run into at a party or out on the campaign trail — friendly, generous, down-to-Earth. He was never the type to look over your shoulder to see if someone more important was coming along.

    After every big political debate, the smart viewer would click on NBC to see what Russert would say. Because what he said mattered more than what anyone else said — even if you disagreed with it. And we’ll all have, forever, the memory of Russert and his little white board on election night 2000 as he documented the unfolding narrative of a race too close to call.

    A huge loss.

>Lloyd Grove’s 1989 profile of Russert.

    Get me a russert,” Gary Hart was reputed to have ordered his staff as he prepared for his first presidential campaign in 1984. It was a quote that, once printed in The New Yorker, became inseparable from the legend of Timothy John Russert — not only strategist and adviser nonpareil, but a noun in the political lexicon. Also a verb, The New Yorker suggested. “To russert,” an infinitive, meant not just beating a political foe, but vaporizing him.

    As chief of staff to Sen. Moynihan (D-N.Y.), Russert russerted then-Rep. Bruce Caputo, Moynihan’s strongest Republican opponent in 1982, by planting stories with reporters that Caputo had been boasting about Vietnam experiences that didn’t exist. Caputo, who promptly dropped out of the race, hasn’t been heard from since.

    “It was one of the most important moments in my life,” Russert says, recalling how he and a colleague hunkered down in the New York Public Library, painstakingly examining newspaper clippings to document the contradictions in Caputo’s public statements. “It was investigative reporting at its best.”

>Poynter Institute looks back.

>Olbermann says his last email from Tim Russert ended with, “Go get ’em.”

>Sen. John Kerry:

    Today’s awful news about Tim Russert’s sudden passing is a swift kick for everyone who knew, respected, and loved Tim and had the honor of sharing his company. It’s hard to describe the shock. Tim was the best political newsman of his generation, and he was a trailblazer in the unique way he brought his personal love of politics, honed by Moynihan and Cuomo, right into our living rooms every Sunday. Tim was at once brilliant and insightful while always approachable, always accessible, and always your next door neighbor and your friend who was there to referee the debates of the big issues of our time. He relished that role and he excelled at it, as any one would who believed in the tenets of Jesuit education. He loved to hold the big guys accountable and in the original, intelligent, studied way he did it he emerged as the biggest guy of all. It is impossible to overstate how much Tim was inseparable from American politics. When I decided to announce for President, the only place to do it was on Meet the Press. It is impossible to imagine political life without him as our guide every Sunday. But it is even more difficult to find the words to express our sympathy for Maureen, Luke, his father Big Russ, and Tim’s family at NBC. Tim, Maureen, and their family will remain in our thoughts and prayers a long long time.

>Mitchell: “This man has done more to raise the profile of needy charities. … This is a life lived large. … When you think of what has happened to us here at nbc news…David Bloom… Now Tim…”

>Chuck Todd appears at 5:05 pm…clearly having been crying and choked up. “I don’t know anybody who’s made people appreciate their fathers. If there has to be a weekend where we have to mourn the loss of Tim it’s Father’s Day. … He was everybody’s father figure here at the bureau.”

>Howard Fineman tells FishbowlDC:

    Loved his family. Loved his church. Loved his country and his work. He defeated cynicism with hard work and genuineness.

>Todd: “I can’t tell you how many people say ‘I want to be Tim Russert one day.'” “When Luke calls, everything drops. There was never a doubt what the priority was. And it instilled the priority in you and everyone else here.”

>Roy Blunt:

    It’s hard to quantify the influence that Tim Russert has had over political discourse in this country today. And it’s even harder to express the toll that his death will have on journalism for years to come. His commitment to the unbiased truth transformed Meet the Press into the premiere political news program of our day.

    But Tim Russert was more than his career. He was a man defined by his commitment to family and friends making him the giant that he truly was.

    As we mourn his passing and salute his enduring impact, I join my many colleagues in Congress in sending his entire family — his loving wife and son and his extended family at NBC — our thoughts and prayers.

>Michael Isikoff tells FishbowlDC:

    It really is quite a shock. I was on MTP a few times and he was without a doubt the most informed moderator and interviewer on TV. But one thing many people migth not instantly remember: I covered the CIA leak case quite closely and it was, at the end of the day, Russert who made all the difference in the world. Once Russert took the stand to dispute what Scooter LIbby had said in the grand jury. Cheney’s chief of staff was cooked. The defense lawyers made a stab at trying to impugn Russert’s crediblity, but it was hopeless. They were trying to raise questions about a guy who was, like Walter Cronkite before him, the most trusted man on television.

>Newt Gingrich:

    Anyone who knew Tim Russert personally and the millions who knew him from his years at NBC News knew that he loved life and lived every moment of it. Even though he had reached the professional pinnacle of the political news world, you always knew and he always knew that he was just a kid from Buffalo and he never forgot it.

    Tim was genuinely charming but as anyone who came to the set of Meet the Press unprepared can tell you, he was direct, tough and gave no quarter. His experience working with Gov. Mario Cuomo and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan gave him an insight few in the journalism world can match.

    It is particularly poignant to lose such a dedicated father and a son who so honored his father in his book “Big Russ and me” just before Father’s Day.

    Tim’s life serves as a model and a reminder for everyone to cherish the ones you love.

    I considered him my friend and I will miss him. Callista and I are praying for him and those who loved him.

>City of Buffalo orders at flag staff.

>ABC reacts:

    George Stephanopoulos Statement
    Tim loved everything about politics and journalism — because he believed in it. Every day he brought Washington home to his viewers and made all of us better. My thoughts and prayers are with his family — especially Maureen, Luke and his father Russ.

    Charlie Gibson Statement
    Tim projected vitality — always excited about the stories he covered and intrigued by the people he interviewed. That’s what made him so good, and his passing so hard to absorb. His competitors — just like his co-workers — held Tim in the highest of regard.

    Cokie Roberts Statement
    Tim Russert Was a great competitor and a good friend. I am obviously shocked and dismayed by this news and extend my thoughts and prayers to his son Luke — he was so proud of you — to his wife Maureen and to the rest of his family; especially his beloved father. Tim and I worked together on Catholic causes, and I will greatly miss him.

    Diane Sawyer Statement
    No one could see Tim in a room and not smile.

    He brought so much joy and curiosity and sheer vitality to all our lives.
    As a journalist, he would set out like a great explorer. You couldn’t wait to see what he discovered every day in the new world.

    He was a defining American newsman. Love of country, love of family poured through him–onto the screen, into the work, into stories at dinner, into the little chuckle that reminded us —aren’t we lucky to be here in this big life.

>Nancy Pelosi:

    Today, broadcast journalism lost one of its giants, who will be remembered along with names like Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and David Brinkley. The City of Buffalo has also lost its favorite son, who loved his city and its hometown team, the Bills. The smile that came across Tim’s face whenever he spoke of the place of his birth and his favorite football team was one of true joy and I will never forget it.

    Tim Russert embodied the very best in broadcast journalism and has been a fixture in millions of living rooms every Sunday morning on ‘Meet the Press,’ an institution that he shaped into one of the most influential news and opinion programs of our time. A stellar journalist, Tim also touched our hearts with his loving portrait of his father in the best-selling book, ‘Big Russ and Me.’

    To everyone at NBC News, who today lost not only a colleague, but a true friend, I offer my deepest condolences. Most of all, my thoughts are with Tim’s wife, Maureen, and his son, Luke. I hope it is some comfort that so many throughout the world have the Russert family in their thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

>Want to know how much the world cares about Tim? Check out the Google Trends top ten:

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>Fineman: “If I ever thought of being Catholic, Tim would be the best poster child for that faith. … Tim never pursued false gods. He pursued the real one.”

>Abe Pollin:

    Irene and I, on behalf of the entire organization, would like to express our profound shock and sadness at the news of the devastating loss of Tim Russert. Tim was a true friend and loyal supporter of our teams and charitable causes throughout the years. He’ll be remembered as a great human being, a loving father and family man. We will miss his excitement, enthusiasm and presence on the sidelines of Wizards games. We loved him very much.

>Buchanan: “He was a Catholic kid who had done his homework. … He had a tremendous love for what he was doing, an infectious sense of humor.”

>From CNN:

    Please note that Larry King will be covering the Tim Russert news to night for the hour on CNN Larry King Live, 9 p.m. ET. Our previously-scheduled interview with Steve Carell will be rescheduled for another date (TBD) in light of this breaking news.

>From Bob Schieffer:

    Tim was the best of our profession. He asked the best questions and then he listened for the answer. We became very close friends over the years. He delighted in scooping me and I felt the same way when I scooped him. When you slipped one past ol’ Russert, you felt as though you had hit a home run off the best pitcher in the league. I just loved Tim and I will miss him more than I can say, and my heart goes out to his son, Luke, and his wife, Maureen.

>From Dan Rather:

    Tim’s passing is a loss not only to his family and many friends, it is a loss to good journalism and to our country.

    Tim, first and foremost, was devout in his faith and deeply devoted to his family. He loved his country with a passion and became a classic example of the ideal American journalist.

    Tim had become an important part of our political process. He will be especially missed in this historic presidential election year.

    Tim Russert was a beacon of quality journalism. At a time when quality journalism is in increasingly short supply, Tim Russert was a leader for what is best in American journalism. He was tough but air, pulled no punches, played no favorites.

    As an interviewer, he had few, if any, peers.

>FishbowlDC has learned that CBS is trying to get Bob Schieffer and Katie Couric on tonight’s Evening News. Both were off today and are not in New York.

>Barbara Walters calls into NBC: This is a man the country came to know so well, the grief this country is going to face is similar to what we felt when Peter Jennings died, such an untimely death. … We will grieve, we know what he meant to journalism, but also to this country.

>Eugene Robinson: It is a loss to Washington and politics in this country. Russert established a unique arena where contestants from all points would come and fight it out and be grilled and present their point of view and make news. … I still cannot believe that he’s not with us.

>Roger Ailes (via TVNewser):

    Tim was one of the funniest guys that I knew. It’s hard to find a picture of Tim, when he’s not smiling. He was very, very good at what he did. He was an example for all journalists today and tomorrow.

>Olbermann: There may be another host of “Meet the Press,” but not another moderator.

>Peggy Noonan: This is a blow to America. He had a kind of presence as someone you trusted to be fair.

>Statements from NBC:

    JEFF ZUCKER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, NBC UNIVERSAL:
    We are heartbroken at the sudden passing of Tim Russert. We have lost a beloved member of our NBC Universal family and the news world has lost one of its finest. The enormity of this loss cannot be overstated. More than a journalist, Tim was a remarkable family man. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Maureen, their son, Luke, and Tim’s entire extended family.

    STEVE CAPUS, PRESIDENT, NBC NEWS:
    This is a loss for the entire nation. Everyone at NBC News is in shock and absolutely devastated. He was our respected colleague, mentor, and dear friend. Words can not express our heartbreak. Our thoughts and prayers are with Maureen, Luke, Big Russ and all of Tim’s family.

    JEFF IMMELT, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, GENERAL ELECTRIC:
    Everyone at GE and at NBC Universal is devastated by the loss of our colleague and friend Tim Russert. Tim was a giant in journalism and a face and a voice that America trusted. He earned that trust through hard work, love of his profession and, above all, through his enduring honesty and integrity. And most importantly, Tim was a wonderful human being who valued family and friends over all. We will miss him greatly. My sincerest sympathies go out to Tim’s family and to the many people whose lives he touched.

    Following is a transcript of the initial NBC News and MSNBC coverage of Russert’s passing:

    TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: I’m Tom Brokaw, NBC News. And it’s my sad duty to report this afternoon that my friend and college, Tim Russert, the moderator of “MEET THE PRESS” and NBC’s Washington Bureau Chief, collapsed and died early this afternoon while at work in the NBC news bureau in Washington. Tim had just returned from a family trip to Italy with his wife, Maureen Orth, the writer, and his son, Luke. They were celebrating Luke’s graduation from Boston College just this spring. Tim, of course, has been the host of “MEET THE PRESS” longer than any other person in that long-running television broadcast. He has been a very familiar face on this network and throughout the world of political journalism as one of the premier political analysts and journalists of his time.

    Tim, 58-years-old, grew up in Buffalo and he wrote a No. 1 best selling “New York Times” book called, “Big Russ and Me,” about his childhood and especially about his relationship with his father, big Russ. That was followed by another No. 1 “New York Times” best seller called, “The Wisdom of our Fathers.” That book was inspired by the many letters that he received from other children talking about their relationship with their fathers.

    This was one of the most important years in Tim’s life for so many reasons. He loved this political campaign. He worked to the point of exhaustion so many weeks, not just on “MEET THE PRESS,” but on MSNBC, and with our colleague, Brian Williams, of course, during the debates and on “Special Coverage” on NBC Nightly News.

    Tim was a true child of Buffalo and the blue collar roots in which he was raised. For all of his success, he was always in touch with the ethos of that community. Just last week, he was back in Buffalo moving his father from his home to another facility. His father now in his late 80s. Big Russ, it goes without saying, our heart goes out to him and all members of Tim’s family.

    Tim loved his family, his faith, his country, politics. He loved the Buffalo Bills, the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals.
    He of course had season tickets to that team when they moved to Washington. We will have additional details throughout the evening here on NBC News and MSNBC, of course.

    Brian Williams will have continuing coverage.

    But to repeat, our beloved colleague, one of the premier journalists of our time, Tim Russert, died this afternoon after collapsing at work at the NBC News bureau in Washington, D.C. And I think I can invoke personal privilege to say that this news division will not be the same without his strong, clear voice. He will be missed as he was loved, greatly.

    I’m Tom Brokaw, NBC News in New York.

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: As we welcome our family of viewers on MSNBC, first off, to explain where we are. We are at Bogram (ph) Airfield in Afghanistan. And of course, the NBC News family going through the very painful knowledge, the painful first word of the loss of our friend and colleague, Tim Russert.

    Tim was 58-years-old. We first learned word this afternoon that something was wrong. Tim collapsed in the Washington bureau, where he was bureau chief, also senior vice president of NBC News and as needs no mention, a long-time moderator of “MEET THE PRESS,” the hugely successful and longest running Sunday morning public affairs show in American television.

    Tim, as Tom Brokaw first mentioned, was a lot of things. First, and foremost, of course, a beloved son of Buffalo, New York. Went back frequently. It is the home of his surviving father, big Russ, “Big Russ and Me” the title of Tim’s first of two best-selling books.

    Again, at the age of 58, an unfathomable loss.

    Tim knew Washington as well as anyone alive, having worked for Daniel Patrick Moynahan and Andrew Cuomo, among others. He was an attorney, a member of the bar in New York and a member of the bar in Washington, D.C.

    Apologies are required. We are in Afghanistan in preparation for tonight’s broadcast of NBC Nightly News from Bogram (ph) Airfield. And when there is a launch of one jet here, it is usually immediately followed by the launch of a second.

    We, of course, have been here for much of this week reporting the U.S. military effort here in Afghanistan. We are going to require a lot of help from family members for this coverage as we go on into the evening. All of us are suffering this same great loss. For a lot of us, it’s the first time we have spoken.

    And with that, as we have another launch here — to my colleague, Andrea Mitchell on the NBC News Washington bureau, a very sad place this afternoon — Andrea.

    ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Well, the shock waves cannot be fully expressed.

    Tim was our friend, our leader, our cheerleader, our teacher, my mentor. Tim came to this bureau in 1988, 20 years ago, as the bureau chief. Even before that, he, of course, was a vice president of NBC News and was in charge of the today program and a great contributor to shaping political coverage. He was a guide to all things political.

    I have always felt that Tim’s involvement in “MEET THE PRESS” and, I’ll never forget, his first time as an on-camera person, not just an executive on “MEET THE PRESS,” But put on camera and asking questions and then becoming the host of “MEET THE PRESS” 17 years ago. I have always felt that it was his background as someone who had gone through Jesuit schools, who had had the training from the sisters whom he so fondly talked of, who had taught him to ask questions, to ask the questions that average people would want to know, and also ask the questions that would stump the political figures, because it wasn’t a gotcha moment. It was that Tim had a fabulous memory and would always ask what people needed to know about their political leaders.

    Tim’s leadership in this bureau, Brian, you know it better than anyone, having taught us — here is Tim on “MEET THE PRESS” just very recently.

    Tim was the person who was really the historian of all things political here. He also, as a partner on debate questions, was the host and moderator of many debates, singly and together with you, Brian Williams. He had huge impact on so many political campaigns. The political campaign of Hillary Clinton in 2000, running for office, it was the Buffalo debate hosted, by hometown boy Tim Russert, that put Rick Lazio (ph) on the spot and memorably had Hillary Clinton proving herself in that debate and then going on to victory as the senator from New York.

    Brian, there are so many things that we can say about Tim Russert today. But the other thing that we need to say is Tim Russert as a teacher and as a friend.

    Tim has been a friend, a father figure to many, an older brother to some, who has carried this bureau through 9/11, through the attacks on the Pentagon, through all of the tragedies and the triumphs of these years here in Washington. It is Tim who has taught all of us how to be journalists and better journalists.

    And as someone who has participated with him on the “Today” program as a friend and fellow political analyst in the early years when we were partners with Al Hunt (ph), his closest and dearest friend, Al Hunt of Bloomberg news, and the extended family. When I think of all of us here as journalists, and as people, we are all so much the better for being friends and students of Tim Russert. The preeminent journalist of our time in any measure who knew how to make the adjustment as we went into cable and on the Internet and expanded all of our horizons in an instantaneous way.

    Brian, you in Bogram know better than anyone what we have learned from Tim Russert.

    WILLIAMS: Well, Andrea, you put it so well and raised such an important point. No. 1, his reach through the industry, his reach through politics and journalism. And sadly for all the wrong reasons, over the next few days, we are about to find out just how far and deep that reach was. But also, his approach, which was so carefully honed and trained through years of education. His Jesuit education absolutely jermaine to any discussion about Tim, Irish Catholic upbringing in, as he often put it, a lunch box neighborhood, a father who held down two jobs for a large portion of his adult life, worked for the city. It helped to form who Tim Russert was.

    And then his legal training, because his mind was so neatly divided like a legal pad. His arguments and his questioning were just like a courtroom lawyer.

>Rep. Jerry Nadler:

    The passing of Tim Russert is a great loss to this nation. While he may be best known for his work on Meet the Press, New Yorkers cannot forget his service as an aide to both the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and former Governor Mario Cuomo. Tim’s passion and dedication to his work was clear and well respected, and he was an exemplary political journalist. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time.

>Noonan: There was a lot of sweetness there. Journalists aren’t known for sweetness.

>Jon Meachem: He was kind of a journalistic Theodore Roosevelt. He had a great joy for life.

>Obama:

>Barbara Walters:

    There is no one who knew Tim, and that includes millions of Americans who felt they knew him too, who isn’t deeply shocked and saddened by his death. Tim was everyone’s idea of what a journalist should be and he made us proud. He interviewed me just one month ago for his weekly television show and much of our conversation had to do with his love for his father, Russ, and his son, Luke. My heart goes out to his wife, Maureen, and to Luke and Russ.

>Schieffer on MSNBC: I was devastated and stunned. Tim and I, in addition to being head to head competitors, had become very good friends over the years. … He loved politics over all and it was infectious. … I have lost a bit of my life … Whenever I pulled one over on Russert, it was like hitting a homerun out of the park. … Tim not only made journalism better, I think he made politics better. … I just feel so bad for his dad. No one loved his dad more than Tim Russert.

>Keith Olbermann reads the hospital statement (via TVNewser):

    Tim Russert collapsed while preparing for Meet the Press. Resuscitation was begun immediately and the DC EMS arrived and a full code was initiated and he was transported to Sibley Memorial Hospital where resuscitation efforts were continued but to no avail. The cause of death is yet to be determined. An autopsy is being performed.

>Charles Kaiser remembers

>So does Wonkette

>HuffPo: “Remembering The Proud Father And Loyal Son (SLIDESHOW)

>WaPo is taking comments

>Richard Minister (via Instapundit):

>Kelly O’Donnell: “The Russert test was an important one and you had to pass it.”

>Madeleine Albright: I don’t know how we’re going to get through the political season without Tim. … This is an amazing loss to all of us. I am just so, so sad.

>CBS’ Sean McManus:

    All of us at CBS News are incredibly saddened by this shocking news. Tim Russert was a giant in our industry and was universally respected for his talent as a journalist, his perspective and his integrity. There wasn’t a better interviewer on television, someone who was tough but always fair. There is today a void in our industry and in our hearts. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all of his many colleagues.

>There is a vigil starting on Nebraska Avenue outside the NBC news Washington bureau.

>Facebook groups pay tribute:

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>From Steny Hoyer:

    I was deeply saddened to hear today that NBC News’ Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert had passed away. Tim Russert was a consummate professional. Every Sunday, millions of viewers counted on Tim to cut through the clutter, to ask tough questions with even-handed fairness, and to elicit answers from key officials on the important issues that confront our nation. His death is an enormous loss for American journalism and for the civil, yet direct, discourse that is so important to our democracy. Today, my thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Maureen, and his son, Luke, and his family and many, many friends across the nation.

    >From the release:

      Tom Brokaw will anchor a special edition of “Meet the Press” dedicated to the extraordinary life of Tim Russert on Sunday, June 15.

      >Rudy Giuliani:

        Statement From Mayor Rudy Giuliani On The Passing of Tim Russert

        “I join the nation in mourning the loss of Tim Russert an American icon in the world of politcal journalism. Having sat in the studio with him, I can only say that he was a gentleman when the “on air” light was lit as well as when it was not. I was fortunate enough to have seen him and shared a stage with him just recently and his ability to communicate the issues adn connect with a live audience was not only informative, but inspirational. His respect and love of the political process was only exceeded by the respect and love he had for his family. Judith and I extend our prayers and deepest sympathies to them, to his friends and all those he touched.”