May 7, 1950-June 13, 2008
On June 13, 2008, the great Tim Russert was working on voiceovers for the June 15 Meet the Press when he collapsed in the Washington Bureau of NBC News and later died of a massive heart attack.
For 17 years, THE PLACE to go for Sunday morning talk was Meet the Press. Russert got the guests, and he asked the tough questions. If you weren't ready, you were toast.
Russert was almost an artist when it came to interviews. He knew exactly the right moment to throw the right question. He walked his subject through a gauntlet only to slam them over the head sometimes with their own words. It wasn't unfair or nasty. He rarely raised his voice. He just calmly went about his job of a thorough interview.
I was always an admirer of Russert's. His depth of research and his intelligence always amazed me. It was also the way he could take some complicated political analysis and break it down to something as simple a statement or a few questions. He was immune to spin because he was, at one time, a spinner.
When Tim Russert died, his form of journalism did, too. David Gregory is nowhere near the interviewer Russert was, and, while he tries, Meet the Press is no longer something I must see each week. There are great journalists out there that can still ask tough questions and be fair. Anderson Cooper probably comes the closest.
It's clear that the field of journalism lost a member of its Mount Rushmore on June 13, 2008. Tim Russert...still missed six years after his death.