Tim Russert Biography

Talk Show Host, News Anchor, Lawyer, Journalist (1950–2008)
Tim Russert was a one-time political counsel who became a journalist and the longtime host of the public affairs show Meet the Press.


Born on May 7, 1950, in Buffalo, New York, Tim Russert graduated from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He later worked as chief of staff for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and as counsel for New York governor Mario Cuomo. Russert became Washington D.C. bureau chief for NBC and was appointed as the longtime moderator for the public affairs show Meet the Press. Russert died on June 13, 2008.

Early Life

Timothy John Russert, Jr., was born in Buffalo, New York on May 7, 1950, to Irish-American Catholic parents, Elizabeth and Timothy Joseph Russert. After graduating from Canisius High School in Buffalo, he went to John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio. He also earned a law degree from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in Cleveland.

'Meet the Press'

Russert was chief of staff to Democratic U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan from 1977 to 1982. He also served as counselor for New York Governor Mario Cuomo from 1983 to 1984. Russert was later hired in 1984 by NBC in its Washington bureau. He became bureau chief four years later and took over as anchor of Meet the Press on December 8, 1991. It became the most-watched Sunday morning interview program in the United States.

Memorable moments at NBC included a first of its kind appearance by Pope John Paul II on U.S. television in April 1985. His use of a white dry eraser board on election night 2000 was one of TV Guide's "100 Most Memorable TV Moments."

The Washington Post also credited Russert with first using "red state" and "blue state" to discuss the differences between Republican and Democratic states.

Best-Selling Literature

Russert was also a best-selling author. His books included Big Russ and Me (2004), which described his childhood in Buffalo, New York, and his relationship with his father, who worked as a garbage collector. The sequel, Wisdom of Our Fathers (2006), was inspired by letters he received from children talking about their relationship with their fathers.

Later Work in Politics

Russert provided key testimony at the 2007 CIA leak trial of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney. Russert denied Libby's claim that he learned the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose husband the White House was seeking to discredit, from Russert. Libby was ultimately convicted of perjury.

Russert moderated several presidential debates during the recent presidential primary season. In 2008, Time Magazine named him one of the world's 100 most influential people.

Personal Life

He married journalist Maureen Orth, a writer for Vanity Fair magazine in 1983. Their son, Luke, graduated from Boston College and earned an NBC News post as a "youth correspondent" for the 2008 elections.


On June 13, 2008, Russert suffered a massive heart attack while at work and died.

Tom Brokaw, the former anchor of NBC Nightly News, made the official announcement during a special report that interrupted regular programming on NBC.

"This news division will not be the same without his strong, clear voice," Brokaw. "He will be missed as he was loved, greatly."

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!