The political world has been shocked and saddened by the unexpected, sudden death of NBC News Washington bureau chief Tim Russert, the Buffalo native who was moderator of Meet the Press since 1991.
Tributes have been many. As I write this, the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams has spent the entire half-hour broadcast with reminiscences from that network's correspondents, as well as print journalists like Al Hunt, Bob Woodward, and Sally Quinn.
Even while traveling overseas, President George W. Bush issued a statement:
Laura and I are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Tim Russert. Those of us who knew and worked with Tim, his many friends, and the millions of Americans who loyally followed his career on the air will all miss him.
As the longest-serving host of the longest-running program in the history of television, he was an institution in both news and politics for more than two decades. Tim was a tough and hardworking newsman. He was always well-informed and thorough in his interviews. And he was as gregarious off the set as he was prepared on it.
Most important, Tim was a proud son and father, and Laura and I offer our deepest sympathies to his wife Maureen, his son Luke, and the entire Russert family. We will keep them in our prayers.
Update: I should have waited until the broadcast ended before hitting send. The last guest on the Nightly News was Ethel Kennedy, widow of RFK, whom I had not seen on television in forty years.
Brian Williams closed by noting that NBC will be preempting its regularly scheduled programming tonight to present an hour-long tribute to Tim Russert, beginning at 10:00 o'clock Eastern Time.