I was standing in the NBC Nightly News studio on a cold Thursday night last January when Brian Williams’ on-air guest sat down for a quick chat with Brian, and the rest of the country. It was Tim Russert, talking with his trademark animation about how the fate of country depended on the results of the upcoming Super Tuesday primaries.

I positioned myself by the swinging glass door such that I could intercept Russert as he left the set during the commercial break. Sure enough, a minute later, he came bounding towards me, smiling like a kid who’d just aced his final exam.

“Hi Mr. Russert. My name’s Mike. I run Newsvine.”, I said, stepping in front of him to shake his hand.

He scanned my face against the hundreds of thousands he’d seen before in his life, trying to decide if he should recognize me, and then raised his hand to meet mine.

“What an election!” he shouted with a big smile, and then continued through the studio at full speed.

That is one of my many lasting memories — and my only personal one — of Tim Russert, who died of a heart attack yesterday at age 58. He was a man who made politics an interesting subject to follow, even for someone like me who is generally put off by the subject. He was known as the most prepared, incisive interviewer in the business, and he will be missed. Best wishes to the Russert family, his closest friends, and everyone else affected by his passing.

6 comments on “Russ.”. Leave your own?
  1. Kyle Baxter says:

    He was one of the few political commentators worth listening to, and he seemed to be an all-around great person. We lost one of the best.

  2. Jon says:

    I still remember sitting in my college dorm room watching the 2000 election fiasco and Tim updating his very low tech yet effective whiteboard throughout the night. He made me interested in following politics and he’s going to be missed.

  3. Greg says:

    I’m glad you got to meet him in person and very, very sad to see him go, especially with the upcoming election.

  4. That is one of my many lasting memories — and my only personal one — of Tim Russert

    We did a show last night on Tim Russert and would there be any better way to die. It was a good one.

    But Mike, I just want to thank you so much for what you just said. I wish I had it in audio version so I could have played it last night. I pulled all the “reactions” to the death of Russert and it amazed me how hard it was for all the “journalists” to get out of their journalist mode.

    They all said the same thing. He was born in Buffalo. He loved his dad. I just was hoping that somebody gave a fun, personal story, but few did.

    The best thing was at least you could tell Brokaw, when he announced the death, was obviously very upset with the news and had to pull everything he could to compose himself.

    Anyways. Thank you for the personal story. I guess it goes to prove you aren’t a journalist ;)

  5. Chad Edge says:

    Mike, if I had to say there was one positive thing about Tim’s passing (and that’s never easy to do with someone’s death), it’s this:

    Since Mr. Russert passed away, I’ve noticed more people my age (the early 30’s) paying more attention to his work – and the political and social reasons behind his work (meaning: the topics). I’m glad to see people take a sterner interest in politics and their own social situation – even if it meant a good man’s passing is the catalyst.

  6. James says:

    Brian Williams went on our local news show and had some nice personal words about Russert.

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