TV newsman Tim Russert dies of heart attack

Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:11pm 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.

Russert, known for his tough interviews of many of the leading U.S. political figures of the past two decades, was the NBC News Washington bureau chief.

"He was an institution in both news and politics for more than two decades," U.S. President George W. Bush said in a statement issued in Paris, where the president was traveling.

Russert became a news subject himself in 2007, when he provided key testimony at the CIA leak trial of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

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.

NBC said Dr. Michael Newman, Russert's physician, determined that cholesterol plaque ruptured in an artery, causing blood flow to the heart to be blocked by a clot. The network said an autopsy shortly after his death showed he had an enlarged heart and significant coronary artery disease.

"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.   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>