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NBC News' Tim Russert is Dead at 58

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Tim Russert, NBC News' Washington bureau chief and moderator of "Meet the Press" died after collapsing at NBC Studios in New York this afternoon. He was 58 years old.

Retired NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw delivered the news at 12:39 p.m. LA time:

“Our beloved colleague,” a somber Mr. Brokaw called him, one of the premier journalists of our time. He said this was one of the most important years in his life, with his deep engagement in the network’s political coverage, and that he “worked to the point of exhaustion.” [...]

“This news division will not be the same without his strong, clear voice,” Mr. Brokaw said. -- NYT.

Both presidential candidates reacted with
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grief and high praise from the campaign trail. Obama said Russert was "one of the finest men I know," and McCain called him "the preeminent political journalist of his generation."Video of Brokaw breaking the news below:

Russert is survived by his wife, Maureen Orth, a writer for Vanity Fair, and son Luke, who co-hosts a sports podcast with James Carville. The family had just returned from Italy where it was celebrating Luke Russert's graduation from Boston College.

Jen Chung wrote the following memoir and obit for our sister site Gothamist:

Russert, who started in politics working for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Governor Mario Cuomo, was hired by NBC in 1984 and became Washington bureau chief in 1988. He had hosted Meet the Press since 1991, but his insightful political analysis reached even broader audiences during the 2000 election: When it was unclear how the election would turn, Russert used a dry erase board to explain the electoral college cont. His use of a dry erase board was selected by TV Guide and TV Land as one of the 100 Most Memorable moments (#68) back in 2004.

Also in 2004, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz wrote a feature on him, "Tim Russert is the quintessential Washington insider, a man with tentacles deep into the political and media worlds, one of the few journalists in a puffed-up, preening profession who really matter." This year, Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people.

NBC News recently revealed ambitious plans for covering the Democratic and Republican conventions -- 20 hours of live coverage each day; Russert would have provided coverage and analysis of the vice-presidential and presidential candidates' acceptance speeches. Here's how Russert predicted electoral maps for the 2008 election back in April, looking at possible Obama vs. McCain and Clinton vs. McCain matchups.

Russert, who regularly contributed to radio station WTOP, had discussed the Obama's campaign's new website to fight myths about Obama this morning (MP3).

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