Sunday, June 15, 2008

NBC: Chris Matthews and Meet the Press remember Tim Russert

The morning (Sunday June 15) the "Chris Matthews Show" on NBC paid a tribute to Tim Russert. The "Father's Day tribute" included comments by Andrea Mitchell, David Broder and Tim Hunt.

Most people know that Tim Russert collapsed and died of a heart attack at work at NBC4 in Washington DC on the afternoon of Friday June 13, 2008, at age 58. He was taken to nearby Sibley Hospital and pronounced dead. Most medical experts attribute the attack to a “plaque explosion” within a coronary artery and sudden occlusion, causing fatal heart arrhythmia. In hindsight, it’s easy to imagine that coronary bypass surgery (had it ever been done) would have prevented the attack, or that different atni-arrythmia drugs might have prevented fatality.

Russert grew up in Buffalo New York. As several tributes indicate, he researched his subject matter with unprecedented attention to detail. He studied the major public figures in the news as “people.” He would, figuratively speaking, “go door to door” with people. He could often surprise interview subjects with the subtle contradictions in their situations. One of the best known examples of his ability to probe political subjects occurred on October 30, 2007 at Drexel University when he drilled into Hillary Clinton’s position on Elliot Spitzer’s proposal to give New York State driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. There is a YouTube video of that encounter here.

The show also mentioned how he unmasked the intentions of former Louisiana representative David Duke in an interview.

The broadcast also mentioned Tim Russert's coverage on 9/11, and his early observation that the planes that struck the World Trade Center (and Pentagon) had been from coast-to-coast flights that would be filled with jet fuel.

Following Chris Matthews, NBC “Meet the Press” presented “Remembering Tim Russert 1950-2008” with Tom Brokaw. Russert is said to have been the first major journalist to look at the political map of the United States in terms of "red" and "blue" states. The Moderator's Chair, which had belonged to Mr. Russert, was empty.

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