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From Connie Chung to Charlie Crist: notable quotes memorializing Tim Russert



TimrusserttitleHere's a collection of quotes memorializing Meet the Press host Tim Russert, who died today of a sudden heart attack.

Gwen Ifill, host, PBS' Washington Week, who worked at NBC from 1994 to 1998: "He talked me into coming to TV – personally intervened to get me to NBC and intervened to get me out of my contract.... He kept every promise that he made – which you can’t say about a lot of people in this business. And when the Washington Week job made itself available, he went to (NBC officials) and persuaded them this is something I needed to do. Which is not something he had to do.”Ifillmtp_2

Ifill on his interview style: “He did a real service in not letting people give half an answer. They knew he just might have that piece of tape which contradicts what you’re saying now. In a polite way, he would drill down – and even if you never answered the question, people at home would understand you were being evasive without him wagging his finger in their face."

Connie Chung, who worked as a reporter and anchor at NBC when he came to TV in 1984: “It was very obvious that he so loved his wife and his family and his son. Everytime I’d see him, he’s ask about my son. He’d want to see pictures, I wouldn’t have to offer. It was so touching and endearing that he would even remember. After I told him all about our son, he would volunteer a million things about his Connie_chungmtp son Luke. Because he was about as proud as any father could be. I think he cherished his relationhip with his father and he wanted to create that same relationship with his son. I think he pretty much succeeded. Here, he had served on the political side, and made the transition into an incredibly well-respected journalist. No one in politics could get way with anything -- because he had been on both sides. He owned Sundays, and he owned political coverage in Washington.”

Deborah Norville, Inside Edition host, who worked at NBC from 1987 to 1991: "It goes without saying what an extraordinary political mind he was and what personal relish he took in the machinations of politics. The behind the scenes, the backroom dealing. He was able to infuse his viewers with that enthusiasm. Tim Russert was anything but a  - quote  - cool personality. He jumped through the screen, and if you didn’t understand why this was an important issues, he practically grabbed you by the lapels and made you care."

Norville on Russert's transition from political operative to journalism: "You could also argue Tim opened the door for what has since become a cavalcade of people who went from working intimately in politics -– gone from being staff in one way or another to being a commentator."

Russertobit From Florida Gov. Charlie Crist: “Along with all who enjoy the political process, I will remember Tim for his detailed knowledge of politics and his thorough approach as a journalist.  I respected and admired him for his contributions, not only as a member of the press, but as a son and a father.  My prayers are with his family at this difficult time.”


Tim Russert was so many different things.

Tim was a big teddy bear of a guy, but he was also a pit bull of an interviewer.  He always held people's feet to the fire, often using their past words with great effect to reveal flip-flops or hypocrisy.  While Tim was incredibly tenacious, he always did his job with great humanity and respect.

Tim was passionate about the political process and was, in many ways, the navigator-in-chief for so many people.  Because he was so knowledgeable, he was able to make politics accessible to millions.

Tim gave me my first network break.  I was a local reporter at WRC in Washington, which shares a building with the NBC Washington bureau.  Tim asked me to come to his office one day and told me he admired my work, particularly my coverage of Marion Barry, who was then the mayor of D.C.  He liked my "scrappiness" and asked if I was interested in becoming the deputy Pentagon correspondent.

He was one of the nicest, most generous colleagues I ever had the pleasure of working with.

I remember when Tim arranged a visit with the Pope when the “Today” show was in Rome—and Tim was the one behind the scenes making it happen.  And I remember he was so full of pride.

He never forgot where he came from.  In his heart, he was a kid from Buffalo who made it to the big time—but never got “too big for his britches,” as my mother would say.

I think he used his Dad, Big Russ, to take the temperature of the country.  And I remember how he used to call him to ask questions and get feedback.

But Tim really didn't have to do that because he was the consummate everyman who loved his family -- who was so proud of his wife Maureen and his son Luke -- and loved the Buffalo Bills, and this country.

FROM former NBC Nightly News anchor TOM BROKAW: Tim was a man of many passions – his family most of all, his faith, his country, political journalism, baseball and the Buffalo Bills.

As a working class Irish-American with a Jesuit education his range was wide and deep – from the sensibilities of blue-collar voters to the politics of the Vatican, from the power plays on Capitol Hill to the power plays on network television.

Almost all of our conversations – and they went on every day – ended with some version of, "Can you Brian_williamsfullshot believe how lucky we are to be doing this?"

FROM current NBC Nightly News anchor BRIAN WILLIAMS: "Tim Russert is gone. He was a giant in our company, in our lives, and in the combined fields of journalism and politics. He was my friend for many years, and my on-air partner during the most exciting political year in generations. The members of Tim's NBC News family are thinking only of the members of Tim's own family in the wake of this staggering, overpowering and sudden loss."

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:48pm]


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