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."

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."

Appearing on "This Week" moments after Edwards, Republican Fred Thompson, slammed the court's 5-4 ruling, arguing that it gives foreign terrorists in a time of war the same access to federal court on a habeas corpus basis as an American citizen. Describing the ruling as "liberal" and bad policy, the former Tennessee senator warned the ruling might shut down the Guantanamo detention facility. "I think it's bad, for the rule of law in this country, for a court to step out and, I think, read the newspapers and watch a little too much television and do something that probably will have the effect of shutting down Guantanamo, which is a politically popular thing to do now."

Thompson also countered Edwards' argument on taxes. "The difference between the rhetoric and the actuality, when it comes to liberals talking about tax policy, is very stark. They say that we'll only tax a handful of people. The money's not there. They've got a trillion-dollar shortfall in the spending proposals they have, in this campaign, on the Democratic side. And they want people to believe that they can tax a few select people and make up that amount of money, and nobody else will have to worry about it. It just doesn't work that way," said Thompson.

Thompson flat out said he's not interested in being McCain's vice president, and Edwards said he's not seeking the job. Edwards' comments about the vp slot stand in contrast to his previous assertions that he didn't want the job.

On "Fox News Sunday," Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan clashed with Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson over energy policy. "There is nothing at this point that justifies the price of oil or gas in this country with respect to supply and demand," said Dorgan, of North Dakota. "Every month, since January, our domestic crude supply has gone up. Demand is going down because the economy is slowing. And yet, the price of oil and gas are going through the roof. Why? Because there's an orgy of speculation going on in the futures markets, an unbelievable amount of speculation by hedge funds, investment banks and others, that are driving up prices for the American people."

Baily Hutchinson of Texas shot back, "I think all of us would agree that we need transparency. We need to understand this. But the way that we can stop the speculation is to show that we are going to do what we can, using our own natural resources and our own creativity, to increase the supply of oil and gas and renewable in our country. And all of the Democratic proposals don't produce one ounce of a barrel of oil."

Red Cavaney, the president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, appearing alongside the senators on Fox, said that increasing production and access to oil in the U.S. would help the prices come down.

On "Face the Nation," Louisiana's Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal danced around questions about the vice presidency. An Indian-American and rising star in his party, Jindal predicted that race would not be a factor in the election as Obama seeks to become the nation's first black president. He referred to both McCain and Obama as decent men, but cited McCain's plans for taxes, national security and health care -- along with his record of opposing earmarks and wasteful spending -- as the reasons why he believe McCain would be a better president.


McCain, on conference calls and on the stump, made a direct play for supporters of former candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., over the weekend. He promised that, by the end of his first term, the country would see a dramatic increase of women in every part of the government. ABC's Bret Hovell has more on ABC

New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick sees the foundation of McCain's war views in a 1974 thesis he wrote shortly after returning from a Vietnam prison camp.

Throughout the long Democratic primary campaign, Obama attracted massive crowds at campaign events across the country. Participants observed that Obama events were some of the most exciting political shows in recent memory. Now that the nomination fight has concluded, Obama hopes to avoid large rallies, instead seeking events where he can get closer to supporters in the hopes of fighting the label that he's just a speechmaker. Julie Bosman writes in the New York Times, "Fighting the perception that he is only a razzle-dazzle speechmaker who is aloof in small settings, Mr. Obama devoted most of his time on the campaign trail in the past week to intimate appearances, hosting round-table discussions with the public and touring a hospital in St. Louis, a retirement facility in Columbus, Ohio, and an all-girls charter school in Chicago.

The Obama campaign has pointed to the senator's strong support from rural and blue-collar voters in downstate Illinois in his Senate campaign as proof he can win those important voting groups that he struggled with during the presidential primaries. But Obama's success in downstate Illinois might be a bit overstated -- and his appeal or lack of appeal in downstate Illinois may "offer clues to Obama's electibility," reports Alex MacGillis of the Washington Post.

Hoping to show the world that U.S. foreign policy is about to take a dramatic shift, Obama may be considering a world tour before the Democrats' convention in August, reports Margaret Talev of McClatchy news services. The trip would almost certainly include a visit to Iraq.

Rudy Giuliani has moved to set up an arrangement with Republican candidates across the country to raise money on their behalf, if they let him get a little piece of the take, reports Raymond Hernandez of the New York Times. The former New York mayor hopes to retire the $3.5 million in debt his presidential campaign still has on the books. Republicans, though, aren't too crazy about the idea, Hernandez reports.

When McCain missed a joke made about Michelle Obama's comments that she was proud of her country for the first time, he may have mistakenly agreed with her sentiments, caught Politico's Jonathan Martin. McCain admitted that it's tough, in some respects, to be proud, because America needs to be more humble and more inclusive. Read about it here, and learn why McCain is proud of America.

Cindy McCain, whose wealth is estimated to be at $100 million, has assets of about $20 million, and she made more than 220 financial transactions last year in her financial enterprise, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of John McCain's Senate financial disclosure form -- which was made public on Friday. Democrats complain that there is still a lot that is unknown about Mrs. McCain's finances. As for the Obamas, Senate forms show he got $4 million in book royalties last year. Read more about the disclosure forms HERE.

Also, the McCain's have $100,000 in credit card debit.

In other news ...

Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner seemed to take himself out of contention for vice president on the 2008 Democratic ticket. A U.S. Senate candidate this year, Warner told the Virginia Democratic convention that he would reject the vp slot if offered by Obama, according to the Washington Post. Last week, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland used strong language when he removed himself from the vp running.

Last weekend, while Obama wore his jeans and a golf shirt and prepared for a bike ride with his family, the members of his former church, Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, gathered for Sunday morning service. The congregation may feel a bit abandoned. "A vast distance separates Obama from the church he quit last month, as hurt feelings continue to fester on both sides," write Eli Saslow and Hamil R. Harris of the Washington Post.

"And some of the church's 8,000 members -- as well as some other black pastors -- feel abandoned, betrayed and misunderstood after their contentious turn in the national spotlight," they write.

Libertarians unite? Boston Globe reporter Foon Rhee writes that, "Signs are emerging of a possible alliance this fall between Ron Paul, the libertarian-minded rebel Republican, and Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee." Read more about it HERE.

In a look at what impact the National Rifle Association will have in this year's presidential race, Noam Levy of the Los Angeles Times writes that the pro-gun group may be a victim of its own success.

"Congress hasn't passed major legislation to restrict gun use in 14 years. Democrats -- scarred by past NRA campaigns -- almost never talk about the issue anymore. And Americans now show little interest in gun control. Just half want tougher rules for gun sales, compared with nearly two-thirds in 2000," writes Levy.

(But make no mistake about it -- organizations that can spend million of dollars to mobilize voters still matter.)

"Faced with one of the worst national political environments in modern political history, Republican incumbents are turning to a tried-and-true approach to win re-election: pork," write Chris Cillizza and Ben Pershing of the Washington Post. "In recent ads for Sens. Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) and Norm Coleman (Minn.), the incumbents highlight their ability to work across party lines to deliver dollars for their respective states.

"What's not in the ads is as important as what is. In none of the three commercials is President Bush's name mentioned. The limited use of the Republican brand is particularly striking in Kentucky and North Carolina, which Bush carried with 60 percent and 56 percent, respectively, during the 2004 election. Coleman's qualifying his party ties makes more sense, given that in 2004, Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., won Minnesota by three percentage points."

Microsoft is working to change its spell-checker in Microsoft Hotmail e-mail, which encourages people to replace Obama with Osama. The Obama forces at, the new Web site devoted to shooting down false rumors about the candidate and his wife, must be gleaming with hope.


If the California Supreme Court does not issue a stay of its May 15 ruling legalizing gay marriage, then couples can pick up same-sex "marriage" licenses at 5 p.m. PT on Monday, June 16.

Former President Bill Clinton delivers 8 p.m. ET remarks to the Radio City Music Hall Speaker series on Tuesday, June 17

Barack's Rock -- as Newsweek dubbed her -- Michelle Obama takes a moment to enjoy "The View" by guest-hosting the popular daytime program on Wednesday, June 18. She and conservative Elizabeth Hasselbeck seem like they could be best girlfriends. Remember Elizabeth's last liberal buddy?

Sens. McCain, Obama and Clinton are required to file their monthly financial reports with the Federal Election Commission on Friday, June 20.