Russert: A Trip Down Memory Lane

After the jump, passages from a 1993 roast of Tim Russert…


From the Washington Post…

    How does an altar boy from Buffalo with a re’sume’ that includes garbage collector, lawyer and political strategist become the toast of Washington?

    “Tim Russert is very much a self-made man — which has relieved the Lord Almighty of an awesome responsibility,” said White House counselor David Gergen.

    That’s about as hot as the flames got last night at the Hyatt Regency Washington, where Russert was roasted — or, more accurately, unsinged — at a dinner titled “Meat the Press.” The 43-year-old guest of honor was the NBC Washington bureau chief who two years ago named himself moderator of Sunday morning’s oldest political barbecue — and thus became one of the most visible journalists in the city.

    Russert was expecting the worst: ” ‘Nothing concentrates the mind like the prospect of hanging.’ — Dr. Johnson.”

    But there was no noose in sight. The night was full of NBC jokes and political potshots directed at the roasters instead of the roastee; Russert received the mildest ribbing of the bunch. Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) presented him with a pope’s miter, former drug policy director Bill Bennett grumped about not being invited as a Sunday morning guest since the Democrats came to town, and Russert’s old boss Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) analyzed the roots of Russert’s ego. …

    “I said to myself, ‘Idiot, stay behind the camera, you stay safe,’ ” said Arnold Schwarzenegger, husband of Russert’s colleague Maria Shriver. “But no, he had to be in front of the camera. But he’s doing well. I think he looks great.” …

    “About a week ago he tried to ignore it entirely and said, ‘This is no big deal,’ ” said his wife, Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth. “So I could tell it was a big deal.” …

    “Dear Mr. Russert,” said Gergen, reading a fake letter. “As you may be aware, I reserve a good part of my Sundays to speak with the Almighty — and by that, I mean God, not someone who just thinks he is. Spiritually yours, the Pope.”