- The Washington Times - Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert, host of NBC‘s “Meet the Press” and the station’s Washington bureau chief, died today of an apparent heart attack. He was 58, and is survived by his wife, Maureen Orth, and a son, Luke.

Mr. Russert was struck by a sudden heart attack while recording voiceovers for Sunday’s “Meet the Press” at the NBC bureau in Washington, according to an announcement by NBC.

He and his family had returned yesterday from a vacation in Italy.

President Bush, after being informed of the news at a dinner in Paris hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, issued a written statement within an hour.

“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,” Mr. Bush said.

White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters in Paris that the president’s reaction was “one of deep sadness, and shock.”

The president’s written statement also said that “most important, Tim was a proud son and father.

“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,” Mr. Bush said.

Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, called Mr. Russert “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,” Mr. McCain said in a statement. “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.”

After an eight-year career as a Democratic aide on Capitol Hill, Mr. Russert went to NBC in 1984 and in 1991 was named host of “Meet the Press,” which is currently in its 60th year, the longest running show in TV history, according to NBC.

Mr. Russert’s show had become regarded as the premiere hour on Sunday morning’s talk shows, and Mr. Russert himself was revered by journalists and feared by politicians for his exhaustively researched questions.

“It became the gold standard of … any kind of broadcast journalism,” said NBC colleague Andrea Mitchell.

His favorite tactic was to find quotes in the public record, read it aloud to politicians or public figures, and press them on any inconsistencies or contradictions.

Mr. Russert’s death began to trickle out in e-mails to reporters just before 3:30 p.m., and at 3:39, NBC’s Tom Brokaw, the former host of the nightly news broadcast, appeared on air and announced Mr. Russert’s death.

Mr. Brokaw called Mr. Russert “our beloved colleague,” according to the New York Times.

“This news division will not be the same without his strong, clear voice.”

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