Russert collapsed and died while at work in Washington, D.C. The news came as a shock to his colleagues who said he seemed healthy and even appeared on WTOP radio the morning of his death. MSNBC reported that Russert was recording voiceovers for Sunday's "Meet the Press" program when he collapsed.
President Bush, informed while at dinner in Paris, issued a statement of condolence praising the NBC newsman as "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."
Russert was Managing Editor and Moderator of "Meet the Press" since 1991 and political analyst for "NBC Nightly News" and NBC's "Today" program. He also anchored "The Tim Russert Show," a weekly interview program on MSNBC.
Russert was born in Buffalo, N.Y., and graduated from John Carroll University and Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University. Before joining NBC News, Russert was chief of staff to Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan from 1977 to 1982 and then joined New York Gov. Mario Cuomo's office in Albany in 1983.
In 2004, Russert penned a bestselling biography, "Big Russ and Me," which chronicled his life growing up in a predominantly Irish working-class neighborhood in South Buffalo. In 2006 he wrote another bestseller, "Wisdom of our Fathers."
This year, Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
He is survived by his wife, Maureen, a special correspondent for Vanity Fair, and his son Luke, who just graduated from Boston College.
Jeff Zucker, the president and chief executive officer of NBC News Universal, said in a statement:
"We are heartbroken at the sudden passing of Tim Russert. We have lost a beloved member of our NBC Universal family and the news world has lost one of its finest. The enormity of this loss cannot be overstated. More than a journalist, Tim was a remarkable family man. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Maureen, their son, Luke, and Tim's entire extended family."