Tom Brokaw hosted a memorial edition of Meet the Press on Sunday in honor of moderator Tim Russert, who died of a heart attack on Friday. PBS News host Gwen Ifill said Russert was an “uber-priest” of politics. Columnist Mike Barnicle said, “We will all continue, but it will never, ever be the same.” (Los Angeles Times)
What the commentators said
NBC has some big shoes to fill, said Michael Calderone in Politico. Russert was the king of the Sunday news talk shows, and judging by the rush of “heartfelt tributes from political and journalistic luminaries,” he “appears irreplaceable.” For years, Russert has dominated the ratings through hard work, “tenacious interviews,” and legendary preparation, leaving the competition to fight over second place.
“To be ‘Russerted’ was to be grilled, fairly yet relentlessly,” said Michael Goodwin in the New York Daily News. But Russert’s sudden death, at 58, stings all the more because this “bear of a man” exuded a warmth and playful spirt, and his “enthusiasm for politics, sports, his beloved Buffalo and his faith and family were infectious.”
Russert set a “standard of excellence for journalists,” said The Washington Times in an editorial. “It wasn't just the fact that he was scrupulously fair—relentlessly grilling conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans,” and cutting through the political spin. But he also set a standard for us all by treating everyone—“be they waiters or repairmen, colleagues at NBC News or powerful politicians—the same: with dignity and respect.”
Tim was a “big shot,” said William Kristol in The New York Times. “But he was just about the nicest big shot in Washington—decent and unpretentious, remarkably kind and genuinely thoughtful.” And thanks to his touching book about his dad—Big Russ & Me—he made sure “his father, whom he revered," was "recognized as an embodiment of the hard work, patriotism and decency of the greatest generation,” and encouraged us all to express our gratitude to the heroes of World War II.