Tim Russert dies while at work at NBC bureau in Washington. “Explainer-in-Chief” Tributes

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WASHINGTON–Tim Russert, one of the nation’s top political analysts, the moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” countless debates and the NBC Washington bureau chief died Friday while at work. Russert was 58. Former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw said Russert collasped and died while at the bureau in northwest Washington. He is survived by his wife, writer Maureen Orth and son Luke. Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) summed up Russert: “He was Explainer in Chief of our political life.” On a personal note: Tim Russert set the standard for political reporters. He loved politics. He was skeptical, but never a cynic. He separated substance from spin. And he always asked the right questions. It was a honor to know him.

MSNBC has continuing coverage…..Click below for react from NBC colleagues…..

“Tim was our friend, our leader, our cheerleader, our teacher, my mentor,” said Andrea Mitchell of NBC News.

Tributes from President Bush and others……

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

(Paris, France)

__________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release June 13, 2008

STATEMENT BY 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.

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From Gridiron Club President Carl Leubsdorf

“It was a measure of the degree to which Tim was respected in the journalistic world that he was the first broadcaster elected to the Gridiron Club after the rules were changed in 2004. He was an enthusiastic member and a willing participant in our Spring Dinner shows. We join with all of those who knew and respected Tim in mourning his death.”

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-Ill.)STATEMENT

Ive known Tim Russert since I first spoke at the convention in 2004. Hes somebody who, over time, I came to consider not only a journalist but a friend. There wasnt a better interviewer in TV, not a more thoughtful analyst of our politics, and he was also one of the finest men I knew. Somebody who cared about America, cared about the issues, cared about family. I am grief-stricken with the loss and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family. And I hope that, even though Tim is irreplaceable, that the standard that he set in his professional life and his family life are standards that we all carry with us in our own lives, said Barack Obama.

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STATEMENT OF SENATOR HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON AND FORMER PRESIDENT WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON ON THE DEATH OF TIM RUSSERT

We were stunned and deeply saddened to hear of the passing today of Tim Russert. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Maureen, his son Luke, his father who we all have come to know as Big Russ, his extended family and all of his many friends and colleagues at NBC who have suffered a tremendous loss. Always true to his proud Buffalo roots, Tim had a love of public service and a dedication to journalism that rightfully earned him the respect and admiration of not only his colleagues but also those of us who had the privilege to go toe to toe with him. In seeking answers to tough questions, he helped inform the American people and make our democracy stronger. We join his friends, fans and loved ones in mourning his loss and celebrating his remarkable contribution to our nation.

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Senator Lieberman Honors Tim Russert

WASHINGTON, D.C. Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) today issued the following statement in memoriam of Tim Russert:

Tim Russert was the embodiment of journalistic integrity and clarity who shed light on how our politics and our government work. Tim became an American institution and the Explainer in Chief of our political life. I have very fond memories of Tim both on and off the air. He will be truly missed by all Americans and my prayers are with his family that he loved so much.

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DURBIN STATEMENT ON THE DEATH OF TIM RUSSERT

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) released the following statement today after learning of the death of Tim Russert.

“The American political scene has lost a hall-of-famer.

I was honored to be asked to appear on Meet the Press with Tim Russert. An invitation to appear on his Sunday show always meant that you had to do your homework and be prepared for the best and toughest questions on the political scene. He was so skilled because he started working on the Hill and he respected our political process. He refused to stoop to the cynical style which many others use as their trademark.

Two years ago, after a Sunday show, Tim invited me to stay on the set as they brought out a cake to celebrate his 15th anniversary on the show. We sat there as he reminisced about his favorite guests. With his untimely passing, that little party is a memory I will treasure.

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EMANUEL STATEMENT ON THE PASSING OF TIM RUSSERT

Washington, D.C. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel issued the following statement after learning of the passing of Tim Russert:

Tim Russert was the best in the business. He was a tough journalist who always asked the hard questions, and his insight and dedication to his craft earned him the respect of millions of viewers. America has lost a trusted voice and Ill miss the chance to talk politics with one of the best reporters Ive had the privilege to know. My prayers are with the Russert family today.

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REID STATEMENT ON DEATH OF TIM RUSSERT

Washington, DCSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement in response to news of Tim Russerts death:

I was greatly saddened to learn of Tim Russerts untimely death. Tim was a warm and gracious family man with a great zest for life and an unsurpassed passion for his work. His rise from working-class roots to become a well-respected leader in political journalism is an inspiration to many. Tim asked the tough questions the right way and was the best in the business at keeping his interview subjects honest. My thoughts are with his family.

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Boehner Statement on the Death of NBC News Tim Russert

WASHINGTON, D.C. House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement on the passing of NBC News Washington bureau chief and Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert:

Tim Russert was so much more than the longest-serving moderator in history of NBCs 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. Tims 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.

Tims 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 Ive 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 nations capital.

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

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WASHINGTON NATIONALS STATEMENT ON THE PASSING OF TIM RUSSERT

We are deeply saddened by the passing of renowned journalist Tim Russert. Tim was a dedicated friend and fan of the Washington Nationals. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Russert family during this time of great loss.

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NBC UNIVERSAL AND GENERAL ELECTRIC STATEMENTS ON THE PASSING OF TIM RUSSERT

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.

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Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold

On the Death of NBCs Tim Russert

“I was shocked to learn of Tim Russert’s untimely passing today. His keen insights and analysis had an unparalleled impact on television news and politics. Im grateful for the exchanges we shared over the years and he will be profoundly missed.

Feingold was interviewed by Tim Russert five times on NBCs Meet the Press, most recently in July 2007.

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Frankfort, K.Y. U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement Friday regarding the passing of Tim Russert:

Elaine and I are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Tim Russert. He was regarded as perhaps the toughest, most fair-minded, and intellectually rigorous interviewer of our day. And Im sure I speak for all elected officials when I say he always asked the question we hoped he wouldnt. Yet for all his achievements, Tim Russert always remained tethered to his middle-class upbringing and the good and decent people who made him who he was. But he will be remembered by many more Americans who knew him as a proud son of Buffalo, New York.

We send our condolences to his wife Maureen, their son Luke, and the entire Russert family on this sad and sudden loss.

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Howard Dean on the Passing of Tim Russert

Washington, DC – Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean issued the following statement on the passing of NBC Meet the Press host Tim Russert:

“Today we lost one of the true giants of American journalism and a tremendous public servant. Tim Russert will be remembered for many things. A committed family man, devout Catholic, devout sports fan, author, mentor. A tough interviewer, Tim delivered the news with authority, in a plain-spoken way that made the great issues of our day accessible to everyone. His love of politics and our country came through in his relentless pursuit of the truth and in the quality of his work as a journalist. On this sad day! , our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones.”

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RNC STATEMENT ON THE PASSING OF TIM RUSSERT

WASHINGTON RNC Chairman Robert M. Mike Duncan released the following statement today:

On behalf of the members and staff of the Republican Party, I extend our thoughts and prayers to the family and colleagues of Tim Russert. His sudden death is a loss that will be felt throughout the journalism and political worlds. His reputation for fairness, accuracy and hard work earned him bipartisan respect. He will be missed.

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TOM BROKAW AND BRIAN WILLIAMS STATEMENTS ON THE PASSING OF TIM RUSSERT

FROM TOM BROKAW

Tim was a man of many passions his family most of all, his faith, his country,

political journalism, baseball and the Buffalo Bills.

As a working class Irish-American with a Jesuit education his range was wide and

deep from the sensibilities of blue-collar voters to the politics of the

Vatican, from the power plays on Capitol Hill to the power plays on network

television.

Almost all of our conversations and they went on every day ended with some

version of, “Can you believe how lucky we are to be doing this?”

FROM BRIAN WILLIAMS

Tim Russert is gone. He was a giant in our company, in our lives, and in the

combined fields of journalism and politics. He was my friend for many years, and

my on-air partner during the most exciting political year in generations. The

members of Tim’s NBC News family are thinking only of the members of Tim’s own

family in the wake of this staggering, overpowering and sudden loss.

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