Friday, June 13, 2008

TV journalist Russert applauded, mourned

NBC-TV newsman Tim Russert received accolades from industry colleagues and the politicians he covered Friday after his unexpected death at the age of 58. Russert, who took over the network's "Meet the Press" show in 1991 and raised it to new heights of importance and popularity, died of an apparent heart attack at NBC's offices in Washington, D.C. He was considered one of the bright lights of television news with his command of issues and welcoming style. He was lauded as an extremely friendly person but a journalist who was not afraid to ask tough questions. President Bush and 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Barak Obama offered words of praise and condolence to his family. Russert achieved unwelcome notoriety last year when he testified at the trial of Scooter Libby, the former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby was convicted of leaking the name of a CIA operative whose husband had publicly criticized the Bush administration. Libby had testified that he learned of the CIA agent's identity from Russert, but Russert testified that he did not speak with Libby about it. The trial put Russert in the untenable position of being part of a major story, a position most journalists studiously seek to avoid.

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