as an avid meet the press viewer, i'll miss him greatly. and i see no better way to pay tribute to him here than to praise him for the work he did-- to illustrate how indispensable he was to his network, nbc, and to the political analysis world in general. our deepest condolences to all who knew him, and to the russert family especially.
from the new york times...
With Tim Russert’s Death, NBC News Must Replace a Man of Many Roles
The sudden death of Tim Russert has left the management of NBC News, for the moment at least, at a loss to contemplate how to replace him.
Mr. Russert was not only the moderator of “Meet the Press,” television’s most successful political talk show, he was also the chief of NBC’s Washington bureau, responsible for the hiring of staff members and directing its operations. More significantly, he was NBC’s public face on politics, appearing regularly on the network’s full range of programs, including the “Today” show, NBC’s “Nightly News,” and on its cable news channel MSNBC.
“It’s going to take four or five people to replace Tim,” said Bob Schieffer, Mr. Russert’s competitor for two decades on CBS’s Sunday program, “Face the Nation,” in a telephone interview from a barge in the Burgundy region of France, where he was vacationing.
“They’ve got to find a moderator for ‘Meet the Press.’ They’ve got to find a manager for that bureau. They’ve got to find someone who understands as much about politics as Tim does and there aren’t many people who do. They’ve got to find someone who is willing to get up in the morning and go on the ‘Today’ show and do the ‘Nightly News’ and then stay up late to go on MSNBC.”
“Nobody should even think about replacing Tim Russert,” he said in a telephone interview on Sunday. “What someone will need to do is find the next way to do ‘Meet the Press’ and provide political analysis. Anybody who thinks they can replace Tim Russert is kidding themselves.”
Any open speculation about whom NBC might turn to was muted out of deference to Mr. Russert and his family. One manifestation of NBC’s reluctance to engage in any planning for its future was the network’s decision not to name a host for next week’s edition of “Meet the Press.” The former NBC anchor, Tom Brokaw, filled in on Sunday, hosting a show devoted to a celebration of Mr. Russert’s career.
But the list of potential names to assume the moderator role on “Meet the Press” is already well known. From inside NBC, the potential candidates include the evening news anchor, Brian Williams, who would be doing double duty (as Mr. Schieffer did for a time at CBS), correspondents David Gregory and Andrea Mitchell and MSNBC hosts like Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough and Keith Olbermann. Several of those names are already lightning rods for critics, however.
NBC could smooth the transition by offering the post on a temporary basis to Mr. Brokaw, who stepped down as the network’s anchor in 2004. Because of past associations both with NBC and Mr. Zucker, Katie Couric will also very likely be mentioned as a possibility, with her tenure as the anchor of the “CBS Evening News” widely expected to end sometime in the next year.
In planning election coverage without Mr. Russert, NBC has him to thank. He was widely regarded as a good judge of talent and a good mentor at the network, and the list of successors includes many people, including Ms. Couric and Gwen Ifill of PBS, whom he recruited or encouraged.
On Sunday, the network was also preparing for funeral services and memorials. A public wake for Mr. Russert will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday at St. Albans School in Washington, with a private funeral mass and burial on scheduled for Wednesday morning. A private memorial service, to be televised live on MSNBC, will be held Wednesday afternoon at the Kennedy Center.
Mr. Russert had led “Meet the Press,” the oldest continuous program on television, since 1991. Under Mr. Russert, “Meet the Press” had become a source of prestige for NBC as the premier place for newsmakers and political candidates to make their case to the nation. It also provided financial value for the network, generating tens of millions in profit every year.
Mr. Zucker said, “Tim gave us an enormous advantage that was not quantifiable.” That advantage had been re-emphasized during the intense interest in the current political year — and his absence is sure to alter the network’s plans leading up to the November presidential election.
Just last week, NBC News began for the first time to describe its plans for covering the Republican and Democratic conventions: at least three hours of live prime-time coverage during each convention on NBC, and 20 hours a day on MSNBC. In both instances, Mr. Russert was set to be a constant presence, as an analyst alongside Brian Williams on NBC, and as an analyst and sometime host on MSNBC during its many hours of coverage.
For Mr. Russert, that sort of around-the-clock service on multiple platforms was hardly unusual. On June 3, the night of the final Democratic nominating contests in Montana and South Dakota, Mr. Russert was up late on MSNBC, offering commentary on the speeches of Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. The next morning, he got up early to appear on “Today,” then crossed the street for an appearance on “Morning Joe,” the morning political talk show on MSNBC.
Mr. Russert’s willingness and even eagerness to supply NBC News with every ounce of political expertise he could summon was something of a legend at the network.
Mr. Zucker recalled a conversation with Mr. Russert from the days after the presidential election in 1992. At the time, Mr. Zucker was the executive producer of “Today,” and Mr. Russert was already augmenting his jobs on “Meet the Press” and running the Washington bureau by making frequent guest appearances on “Today.” How frequent? Mr. Zucker recalled calling Mr. Russert at one point to say, “You’re not going to believe this, we’re going to put you on for the 40th day in a row.”
Mr. Zucker asked Mr. Russert if he wanted a break. “Jeff,” Mr. Zucker recalled Mr. Russert replying, “you’ve got to give the people what they want.”