TV newsman Tim Russert dies of heart attack

Fri Jun 13, 2008 6:01pm EDT
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By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Tim Russert, who became a household name in American political discourse as host of NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday talk show, died on the job of a heart attack on Friday, the television network said. He was 58.

NBC interrupted its programming for a special report by former anchorman Tom Brokaw, who announced in a voice heavy with emotion that Russert had died at the network's Washington bureau after returning from a trip to Italy with his family.

Russert was prerecording a segment for this Sunday's "Meet the Press" program when he collapsed.

"I think I can invoke personal privilege to say this news division will not be the same without his strong, clear voice. He will be missed as he was loved, greatly," Brokaw said.

Russert was the NBC News Washington bureau chief as well as a political analyst for "NBC Nightly News" and the "Today" morning program. He also anchored "The Tim Russert Show," a weekly interview program on the CNBC cable-TV channel.

"Here was a guy who, in a really affable way, was able to do something that news anchors don't really do: provide cogent, understandable, compelling analysis of really complex issues," said Syracuse University media expert Robert Thompson.

It was as host of "Meet the Press" since 1991 that Russert became a leading voice in American politics by mixing his cheerful on-air persona with the tough questioning of political guests including President George W. Bush and leading personalities of the 2008 presidential campaign.

"This was one of the most important years in Tim's life," Brokaw told viewers. "He loved this political campaign. He worked to the point of exhaustion so many weeks."   Continued...

<p>An undated handout photo of "Meet the Press" moderator and NBC News Senior Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert on the set his show. Russert, a leading U.S. political correspondent and host of the NBC television network's long-running "Meet the Press" talk show, died on June 13, 2008 of a heart attack, the network said. He was 58. REUTERS/NBC/Handout</p>