NBC’s Tim Russert Dead at 58

[UPDATED] This afternoon, I was reviewing a product release plan from one of my clients in my office. The Randi Rhodes Show was playing in the background through my PC, and the TV monitors in the opposite corner were tuned to MSNBC and BBC World with the audio off. Randi said something that caught my attention – maybe it was the inflection of shock in her voice, maybe it was my subconscious auto-pilot setting off alarm bells – but I could swear Randi had just said that "Tim Russert is dead."

It took a fraction of a second for my focus to shift from a detailed OpenOffice spreadsheet to the MSNBC moniter

Moments after I saw the chyroned words "TIM RUSSERT DEAD" on the screen, my jaw hit the floor.

The King of the Village – arguably the reigning master of 20th-century-style broadcast journalism – has died. Russert has taken his lumps in recent years from many Internet commentators on both sides of the political aisle (including this writer). Interestingly, Russert was recently showing signs of getting very tough with oligarchic GOP politicians and players, and was clearly having a ball reporting on what is already an epic quadrennial campaign season.

Evidently, other news outlets showed poor judgment and reported that Russert had taken ill before NBC went public with the news; their initial report on the Internet, MSNBC and the full NBC network in North America broke the worst possible news.

Russert is survived by his wife, journalist Maureen Orth, and his son Luke. Our condolences to his family.

UPDATE: It’s heartbreaking to watch and listen to Tom Brokaw barely contain his emotions as best he can as he breaks the shocking news about his friend Russert on the NBC network in North America.

UPDATE 2: Was Oliver Willis the first blogger to report something had happened to Russert?

UPDATE 3: Emotional tributes from Russert’s NBC colleagues Brian Williams and Andrea Mitchell.

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