Remembering Tim Russert: Networks Honor Newsman


Washington remained in a state of mourning on the first Sunday since NBC's Tim Russert died of a heart attack -- and the grieving was punctuated by on-air tributes from friends, colleagues and competitors on the broadcast networks.

NBC opened "Meet the Press" with a somber reminder that he really is gone. The familiar moderator's chair and table where Russert had so famously interrogated politicians and newsmakers was empty. "Our issues this Sunday. Tim Russert started every edition of 'Meet the Press' with those four words, and those were the words that he was preparing to record when he collapsed and died on Friday at these NBC studios in Washington," announced Russert's longtime friend and colleague Tom Brokaw. The entire hour of "MTP" was reserved for reflection on Russert's life and legacy. Even rivals at others networks took time to remember the man who reinvigorated Sunday television, and elevated this country's political discourse during his nearly two decades at the helm of "Meet the Press."

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ABC's George Stephanopoulos, at the beginning of "This Week," said, "Tim loved everything about politics and journalism. He loved the game. He loved the gossip, too. Making the powerful squirm was his duty, but he tried to do it almost always with a smile." CBS's Bob Schieffer used a taped message on "Face the Nation" to reflect on what he thought made Russert a great journalist. He concluded it was Russert's hard work and preparation. "In our business, you know which of your colleagues do their own work and you know which ones don't, and somehow, the public has a way of figuring that out as well," said Schieffer. A visibly emotional Chris Wallace of "Fox News Sunday" joked about his irritation with Russert's popular sign off, "If it's Sunday, it's 'Meet the Press.'" But, he said he would give anything to hear it again.

"That he isn't here to celebrate his Father's Day is so profoundly sad," observed CNN's "Late Edition" anchor Wolf Blitzer. Blitzer seemed to effectively capture the irony that the man who revered his father, Big Russ, and his son, Luke, passed away just two days before Father's Day.

As for the non-Russert highlights from the talk shows...

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards argued that Republican presidential nominee-to-be Sen. John McCain's tax cuts would go to the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations. "I mean, $4 billion -- at a time when Americans are paying $4 a gallon for gas -- there's $4 billion of tax cuts to the biggest oil companies in America. This is crazy. I mean, it doesn't make any sense, whatsoever. And any American with any common sense knows that."

Edwards, who backs his former presidential rival, presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama, for president, said he agrees with the Supreme Court's narrow decision last week to grant enemy combatants at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility the right to have their case reviewed in a civil court. "I can't imagine how any American would object to that. It makes all the sense in the world. And, I might add, it's very much in the long-term security interests of America."

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