1. Headline
  1. Headline
updated 6/15/2008 1:25:05 PM ET 2008-06-15T17:25:05

MR. TOM BROKAW: "Our issues this Sunday." Tim Russert started every edition of MEET THE PRESS with those four words, and those were the words that he was preparing to record when he collapsed and died on Friday at these NBC studios in Washington. Now, his moderator's chair is empty, his voice has been stilled and our issue this sad Sunday morning is remembering and honoring our colleague and our friend with some of the men and women who worked with him and appeared here on MEET THE PRESS, who knew him best and loved him most.

I'm Tom Brokaw. There are so many stories that we could tell about Tim, so many moments that shaped and defined him and our nation. But, in this hour that Tim occupied so proudly and did so well, we will focus on the remarkable things that he did right here on MEET THE PRESS, a program that he called a "national treasure," of which he said he was only the temporary custodian. For 17 years, of course, he was so much more than all of that. His great friend, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, is with us this morning.

And it seems to me, Doris, that in the future, historians will have a rich archive in the MEET THE PRESS recordings of the people who have passed through these studios--who they were, how they evolved and what they became.

MS. DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: No question about that. I mean, think about the 19th century. We had diaries, we had letters. That's what allows historians to re-create those people who lived then. In this broadcast world, what these recordings will show people years from now is not just the questions he asked, not even just the answers he got, but which people were able to acknowledge errors, which people ruffled under his questions, which ones could share a laugh. You'll get the temperament of these people. They're going to come alive. You know, he loved that "Meet the Press Minute" at the end, where the history could come back. And I keep imagining that maybe four or five election cycles from now, when we're in our 80s, we'll be dragged back to a bunch of young journalists and, and they will, they will say to us, "You knew Tim Russert? You were there with him?" And we'll be able to know that we knew this man with this boyish enthusiasm. That's what the records won't show, but we'll know that.

MR. BROKAW: What we should hope when we get into our 80s, however, is that they will not bring back some of the judgments that we made here on MEET THE PRESS of that time.

MS. KEARNS GOODWIN: Right. Sanitize that.

MR. BROKAW: Tim has a very large wooden sign in his office, and it's going to be our mantra for this morning. It says, "Thou shall not whine." And if I could add, I think, anything to that, thou shall not weep or cry this morning. This is a celebration, a time to remember. And if there was a signature for MEET THE PRESS under the guidance of Tim Russert, the questions were tough but always fair. Let's take a look at some of those questions, tough and fair, over the years here on MEET THE PRESS, and then talk about that.

(Videotape, November 10, 1991)

MR. TIM RUSSERT: If I told you it was 25 percent of your state lived below the poverty line, would you believe me?

Mr. DAVID DUKE: I could believe you, yes, sir.

MR. RUSSERT: Are these the kinds of things that governors should know, who the largest employers are, how many people live below the poverty line?

(End videotape)

(Videotape, May 3, 1992)

MR. ROSS PEROT: Just say...

MR. RUSSERT: You said that part of your $40 billion deficit reduction plan...

MR. PEROT: Now, what I have also told your program today...

MR. RUSSERT: ...is $180 billion.

Mr. PEROT: Yes. May I finish?

MR. RUSSERT: May I finish? It's a simple question.

MR. PEROT: Well, you've already finished.

MR. RUSSERT: Well, I, I...

MR. PEROT: Go, finish again.

MR. RUSSERT: Let's, let's--please, please.

MR. PEROT: It's your, it's your program, you can do anything you want to with it.

(End videotape)

(Videotape, November 7, 1993)

MR. RUSSERT: Will you allow North Korea to build a nuclear bomb?

FMR. PRES. BILL CLINTON: North Korea cannot be allowed to develop a nuclear bomb. We have to be very firm about it.

(End videotape)

(Videotape, October 13, 1996)

MR. RUSSERT: Filegate, Travelgate, Whitewater--what's wrong with those as legitimate issues?

FMR. VICE PRES. AL GORE: Look at all this Whitewater stuff. What's come out of it? Absolutely nothing.

(End videotape)

(Videotape April 13, 1997)

MR. RUSSERT: Would you be willing to retract or apologize for some of the things you said?

Mr. LOUIS FARRAKHAN: If I can defend every word that I speak and every word that I speak is truth, then I have nothing to apologize for.

(End videotape)

(Videotape, February 8, 2004)

MR. RUSSERT: In light of not finding the weapons of mass destruction, do you believe the war in Iraq is a war of choice or a war of necessity?

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: I think it's a--that's an interesting question. Please elaborate on that a little bit. A war of choice or a war of necessity? It's a war of necessity.

(End videotape)

(Videotape, September 4, 2005)

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary, you say pre-staged. People were sent to the convention center. There was no water, no food, no beds, no authorities there. There as no planning.

SEC'Y MICHAEL CHERTOFF: We'll have time to go back and do an after-action report. But the time right now is to look at what the enormous tasks ahead are.

MR. RUSSERT: Many Americans believe now is the time for accountability.

(End videotape)

(Videotape, May 27, 2007)

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON: Look, I was asked--I shouldn't have said that, so you're going to--I've been in public life 25 years. You're going to find a lot of these, and it seems you've found them all here.

MR. RUSSERT: No, I'm just trying to set the record, I'm trying to give you a chance to respond, which is fair.

GOV. RICHARDSON: All right. OK.

(End videotape)

(Videotape, April 2, 2006)

MR. RUSSERT: Senator John McCain, thanks for joining us and sharing your views.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I haven't had so much fun since my last interrogation.

(End videotape)

BROKAW: And joining us this morning, among others, from Sun Valley, Idaho, Tim's very dear friend, Maria Shriver, our former colleague.

And, Maria, I remember so well when you and Tim went to Cuba and you were interviewing Fidel Castro. It was kind of comforting, my guess is, to have Tim at your side on that occasion.

MS. MARIA SHRIVER: Well, I think it's so poignant that we're talking about Tim on Father's Day, because he was a father to so many of us, the whole bureau there and all the young journalists. And when I went to Cuba he was--he told me ahead of time, "You need me in Cuba when you're going to interview Fidel Castro." I said, "No, Tim, you don't have to come. I, I don't really need you. I can handle this myself." He said, "No, you need me. I need to produce for you, I need to cheer you up, I need to be there for you." He actually wanted to just meet Castro, and he wanted to go along for the ride. But he, he prepared probably better than I did for the interview, and I remember how excited he was to be there, the intrigue, getting up in the middle of the night, going over to meet Castro and making sure that I knew everything I needed to ask him. And I think he, he was that kind of person, as we've talked about, and I think as everybody's talked about--thorough, excited, a lover of history, as Doris said. So he wanted to meet Castro, he wanted to understand the Cuban missile crisis, he wanted to get answers. And he probably knew as much about it as Castro himself. But he was great fun, he was a great companion. And, really, he saw himself as a mentor to me and, I think, to so many others, and I think that's why he was so beloved in our organization and out.

MR. BROKAW: All right, Maria, stand by there in Sun Valley. We'll be talking to you during the course of this program.

We're also joined this morning by Tim's very good friends and regulars on this broadcast, James Carville and Mary Matalin, the left and right on national politics.

James, it was always stunning to me that candidates would appear here and think that they were going to get away with something. I mean, you worked with...

MR. JAMES CARVILLE: Yeah.

MR. BROKAW: ...a lot of these candidates who were going to appear on MEET THE PRESS. Could you ever warn them enough?

MR. CARVILLE: Well, you warn them. I think what Tim, I mean, more than anything didn't like is a candidate who wasn't prepared.

MR. BROKAW: Right.

MR. CARVILLE: Somebody that came on the show unprepared. You know, if, if you come in, and you're prepared and you say some things, you're right, you're going to get crossed up a little bit and sometimes you say, "Yeah, you know, I changed my mind." And he was always amused and kind of liked that. I, I, I think that the biggest insult to him was that someone would come on here and wasn't prepared for the show, didn't take his show seriously, that he--he did have the most serious show on television. And if you came on, it didn't matter if you were a Republican or Democrat, or you were a liberal or conservative, if you came prepared he, he--it was going to be a good interview. And, and I would say any candidate that would ever come on this show, just be prepared, don't be frivolous and, and, and take the questions that--and you--and he never comes at you. He's a very--it was a very easy show to prepare for in the sense you knew he was not going to ask you any questions out of left field, you knew his, his thing was going to be entitlements, you knew his things were going to be past statements, you knew, you knew where he was coming from. So it was--at once it was a very hard show, but you could prepare for it because it was very fair. Always very fair.

MR. BROKAW: Mary Matalin, a lot of people on the left and the right say "This guy's just unfair to my people." I always thought he was equal opportunity in terms of how he treated the candidates whether they came from the left or the right.

MS. MARY MATALIN: Yeah, this is where you separated the men from the boys, right? You weren't, you weren't a candidate till you came on this show. If you ever had anything to say, just coming on this show--if you were an incumbent. You came here, that meant you had something to say. And James is right. It was simple to prepare for in the sense that there was no "gotcha," but it was not easy, because you had to be 10 questions deep, because he was going to be 12 questions deep, and he didn't want, he didn't want to surprise you. He wanted you to know where he was going, and he would say "I want to give you a chance to--you messed this up last time. I want to ask you again so you can clean it up." It was his purpose to, to inform and James is so right about this. The people that messed up here--I think one of us said this earlier--they messed themselves up, Tim didn't mess them up.

MR. BROKAW: Betsy Fischer, you've been Tim's producer and at his side for a long time. You began here as an intern.

MS. BETSY FISCHER: Seventeen years ago.

MR. BROKAW: Seventeen years ago. Tim always said that Big Russ watching in Buffalo was his best barometer. He knew who the phonies were. And...

MS. FISCHER: He had his own focus group...

MR. BROKAW: Right.

MS. FISCHER: ..he said. A cheap one.

MR. BROKAW: And Tim would get that reading at the end of a broadcast. He'd call Big Russ and see how it went.

MS. FISCHER: He would. And he, he called it the cheapest, most accurate focus group, and that was his needle, his compass. And the next thing he would do is grab me and say, "What do we have for next week? What's the show?"

But James talking about preparation, and candidates being prepared coming on here, there was nobody more prepared than Tim Russert himself when people would come on this show, and he would spend--and he called it a luxury--he would spend all week preparing for this show, reading everything. He never once sat in that chair unprepared. He would prepare for a three-hour show.

MR. BROKAW: I always thought that both his Jesuit training and his legal education, which a lot of people didn't have a full appreciation of, were so important to him because this broadcast was always about accountability. If you're in the public arena and running for office, then we have an obligation to hold you accountable.

MS. FISCHER: Absolutely. And the way he would structure the questions was very lawyerly. We--he, he always knew how a candidate was going to respond, and he was, he was prepared enough to know that. And he would sketch it out in his mind: "I'm going to ask A, that'll get us to B, that'll get us around to C, and then there's D." And he, he knew how to get you into that cycle, and he was very skilled at that.

MR. BROKAW: Gwen, you were a colleague of ours here at NBC News, and now you have your own broadcast on PBS. And I, I think one of the real benefits of having MEET THE PRESS on the air is that, for the rest of the week, other Washington journalists would have something to operate from. They would have a whole foundation, right?

MS. GWEN IFILL: It's true. Everybody would come to work on Monday morning and decide, OK, the, the plate had been reset, especially in politics, every week based on what had happened on MEET THE PRESS. And for the politicians you covered, the plate had also been reset. You know, when you watch the way Tim did his job, I mean, you knew he had to be prepared. You knew that he expected answers. But he didn't do it with banality, and he didn't do it in a lordly, smug way. So you always--to me, it was, it was a--you could study, as a journalist, the way you ask a question and then the way you listen for an answer. Tim didn't just--if someone said, "Oh, and by the way, I killed my wife," Tim heard that. A lot of journalists would just keep going. And so he was always--and because, bottom up. And because he was so fundamentally curious about people and about issues, he knew instinctively what it was that you had said which was going to be interesting to people at home. If you don't have the curiosity, it shows.

MR. BROKAW: I suppose if Tim had one continuing question on this broadcast for people who came here, because in the hearts of minds of even the most lowly elected official, they think, "Maybe one day I can get to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," and Tim really understood that. So he would always ask, "Are you running?" Let's take a look at some of that.

(Videotape)

REP. DICK GEPHARDT: ...for the country.

MR. RUSSERT: So you're not even considering, considering running for president in '92?

REP GEPHARDT: I have no plans. I'm running for majority leader.

MR. RUSSERT: All right, let's try this one.

Offscreen Voice #1: Wait a second.

MR. RUSSERT: Will you, will you say categorically this morning that you will not run for president in 1992?

Man: Tim, I've said many, many times...

MR. RUSSERT: We're listening.

Man: ...I--I've said many, many times I'm majority leader, I'm enjoying being majority leader, that's what I'm doing.

MR. RUSSERT: We have no doubt you're enjoying it, but will you say categorically?

Man: I have no plans...

MR. RUSSERT: No plans.

Man: ...or intentions of doing anything else.

MR. RUSSERT: John Kerry, you going to run for president in 2004?

Mr. JOHN KERRY: I'm running for re-election in 2002.

MR. RUSSERT: How about '04?

MR. KERRY: I'm not making any decisions beyond '02.

MR. RUSSERT: Gray Davis?

MR. GRAY DAVIS: I'm focused on keeping the lights on and making our schools better.

MR. RUSSERT: But you're not ruling it out?

MR. DAVIS: I'm--the only election on my horizon is re-election in 2002.

MR. RUSSERT: Huckabee, you're not running.

MR. MIKE HUCKABEE: No, I think America's elected a guy from Hope, Arkansas. They've probably had their chance at that, honestly.

Offscreen Voice #2: I am, I am running.

MR. RUSSERT: Oh, god.

Do you ever want to be president?

MS. HILLARY CLINTON: No. You know, I...

MR. RUSSERT: Ever?

MS. CLINTON: No. I really...

MR. RUSSERT: Never? You'll never run?

MS. CLINTON: You know, Tim, I have no intention of running for president.

MR. RUSSERT: Oh, but that's a--that's--no intention? Either "I will never run" or "I might run."

MS. CLINTON: You know, your good friend and mine, James Carville, told me, "Tim will ask you this 900 different ways." But the answer is the same. I, you know, I do not intend to do that.

MR. RUSSERT: What's your decision?

MR. RALPH NADER: After careful thought and my desire to retire our supremely selected president, I've decided to run as an independent candidate for president.

MS. CONDOLEEZZA RICE: I don't know how

MR. RUSSERT: Period.

MS. RICE: ...many ways to say no in this town.

MR. RUSSERT: Period.

MS. RICE: I really don't.

MR. RUSSERT: Period. "I will not run as president of the--for president."

MS. RICE: I, I have no intention. I don't want to run. I think...

MR. RUSSERT: "I will not run."

MS. RICE: ...people who run are great, but I don't want to run.

MR. RUSSERT: It's a Shermanesque statement.

MS. RICE: Shermanesque statement.

MR. RUSSERT: You're done. You're out.

MS. RICE: I'm done.

MR. RUSSERT: You going to run for president?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: We'll hear it here first.

MR. RUSSERT: But it's fair to say you're thinking about running for president in 2008?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: It's fair, yes.

(End videotape)

MR. BROKAW: Tim's very good friend, Mike Barnicle, my pal as well. Mike and I have talked about this a lot. Tim had a great--that question was not just idle speculation. He wanted to land on the front page of the newspaper the next morning. That was one of the tests that he had here. MEET THE PRESS was successful if they drove the news cycle.

MR. MIKE BARNICLE: Oh, there's no doubt about that. And off of what Betsy and everyone else has said, there's, there's no way people could really comprehend the depth of planning and preparation that Tim would put into this program. And I can tell you, old pal, from the heart, that I, I can certainly comply with one half of your request. I won't whine, but I can't commit...

MR. BROKAW: To not cry.

MR. BARNICLE: ...at the end of this program to not crying. Because we sit here on this set with this in the backdrop. And, as Luke Russert told me yesterday, that this program was Tim's second son.

MR. BROKAW: Mm-hmm.

MR. BARNICLE: And he loved this program. He loved it as a vehicle, an educational vehicle for everyone out there. For everyone out there. For people in the news business as well as everyone who views this program. And we will all continue, but it will just never, ever be the same; although I will hear his laugh forever.

MR. BROKAW: And "This is wild," which is another favorite comment that he would say at the end of a broadcast, or "This is big." He would come here early in the morning, earlier than anybody else who ever prepared for these broadcasts, like, 6, 6:30. Right, Betsy?

MS. FISCHER: Oh, yeah.

MR. BROKAW: And he would rehearse the questions. I mean, he would read them out and, and look to the camera and do them, and anticipate as she...

MS. FISCHER: Play both sides.

MR. BROKAW: Right.

MR. BARNICLE: Yeah. Well, he, he had that--he, he would have made a great prosecutor. And in the sense, sometimes, although always quite fairly, as James pointed out, he was a prosecutor on behalf of the public good here. He was going to get to the news, he was going to get to the story, he was going to get to the truth. And he knew how to do it skillfully and fairly, and never condescendingly. And there was always attached to Timmy, on this program and in his conversation with public people especially, a "Columbo" element. You'd be just walking away saying, you know, "Whew."

Ms. KEARNS GOODWIN: "I made it."

MR. BARNICLE: "I skated on that one." You know, and "Mr., Mr. Brokaw, just one more question."

MS. FISCHER: He'd say, "Before you go..."

MR. BARNICLE: Yeah. And bang.

MS. IFILL: And Tom, and Tom, can I add that also, this, this studio, I thought of it as the "church of Tim." He was also the great uber priest. I would actually get a pass from my own pastor not to go to church on Sundays if I was going to be on MEET THE PRESS. He got that.

MR. BROKAW: And, Maria, out in Sun Valley, when you talked to the governor of California about appearing on MEET THE PRESS, did you give him fair warning about what he may expect from Tim, even though you were...

MS. SHRIVER: Well, I was listening--everybody talking about how prepared Tim was. Tim was a--I thought it was so interesting, the way he tried to get people to come on the program. Talk about being prepared, he'd hound you for months on end. And he would always call me, I remember, after--when Arnold was running then after he was elected, he would call me all the time to check on me, see how I was doing. Then he'd kind of veer the question to, you know, "Arnold needs to come on the show. He can't get respect until he comes on the show. It's a rite of passage. He needs to be on this show. And, you know, he's not going to be anybody until he comes on this show." And eventually he was right, you know. And I saw people on the Republican side prepare to go on that show, and I saw my uncle on the Democratic side sit down and prepare to go on that show. And people were equally terrified, I think, to go on that show. And they also prepared, because, as everybody said, they knew Tim was also going to be prepared. And they knew it was a rite of passage.

MR. BROKAW: James....

MS. SHRIVER: And I loved the way he--he'd go after people to get on that show. He really worked that angle just as much as being prepared once they finally agreed.

MR. BROKAW: And Doris and James, I want to get your take on this, because I always believed that he, that he elevated journalism by working first in politics, because he saw it from the other side. He knew how political people saw journalism and how they thought that they could manipulate it. And he knew, not just where the bodies were buried...

MR. CARVILLE: Right.

MR. BROKAW: ...he knew where the earmarks were buried, he knew where the votes had been taken. And if some candidate thought he could wander off to East Bicycle Falls, Kentucky, and say something and get away with it, he'd be held accountable.

MR. CARVILLE: Well, the thing is, he, he, he understood--he loved politics. I--when I used to run campaigns, the first question I'd ask somebody I wanted to work is, "Do you like politics?" And if they didn't, I had no interest in hiring them. I don't care how many degrees they had or what they did. And people need to understand this about Tim. And he would sit and we would talk literally every day but Friday. I generally wouldn't call him on Friday, because he was--that--you know, Betsy, he was in the zone. We'd talk sometimes two, three times a day, and he'd say, "You see what this guy's doing over here?" or "What do you think about this?" or "Why don't they say that?" He never got out of--he always was in politics. He, he went into journalism, but he understood it in a fundamental way that so--that, that--and people that watch the show understood that, that he, he--look, the thing about--I just, one thing I want to say is the question I'm most often asked about Tim is, is he as really a good guy as he looks like? And the truth is, he was a better guy. He was really a better guy than even you think he was. And the reason he was is because he had so much of a little boy in him.

MS. IFILL: Oh, is that ever true.

MR. CARVILLE: And an enthusiasm for sports, for politics, he just--I no--I didn't have a friend that I could like just talk about politics or a move or what someone was doing, or what Huckabee was doing and what the effect of that was going to be three things down the line, or, or how Edwards was, you know, he just--it's just stunning the, that somebody had that passion and that depth of the subject and...

MR. BROKAW: We don't have a big tradition in this country of people being in politics then in journalism, or going from journalism back into politics. But Tim really dropped that firewall because he did it with such integrity.

MS. KEARNS GOODWIN: Absolutely. I mean, he was able to become an objective journalist, SO he had passions inside of him. You know, I think what James said is so true. Eleanor Roosevelt once said about Franklin and Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, that the best men still have a lot of the little boy left in them. And that was what Tim had. I once said to him, "Why don't you run for office?" because he had such a personality. You know, they also said of FDR that being with him with his shining personality and his bouyant sparkle was like opening your first bottle of champagne. I think we felt that with Tim. But he said, "No, I have found my vocation. I love this thing."

I mean, journalism was to him the highest profession. He, he, he set the standard. You know, the old days you had Edward R. Murrow and you had Walter Cronkite, People of authority who would look out at the television screen. But what Tim did was to make that transition to the world of relationship talking. That's what so much television is now, talking. Think about how no razzle dazzle in this show. What it had were people sitting around the table and talking, talking like you might have talked 200 years ago but with civility in a time of polarized country.

MR. BARNICLE: The other thing, Doris and James and everyone, is that there were no strangers in Tim's life. People knew Tim, and they knew him because this X-ray tube, this MRI that we call a television camera, clearly, people sit in their living rooms and they get a sense of who the human being is. And he was such a magnificent human being. They knew him. They knew him in airports, they knew him at ball parks, they knew him at Capitol Hill, they knew him at bus stops. You can be, be stopped by strangers today and yesterday throughout this country, you can get e-mails from ordinary people who knew Tim. And you know what, they did know him because he was a spectacular guy, and he was a little boy in clothes that he got from...(unintelligible)...Liquidator, like I do.

MR. BROKAW: I always said that people asked me about his wardrobe, and I said he actually has three tailors. L.L. and Bean. There came to be something called the Russert Primary. A lot of candidates who waltzed into these studios, crawled out of here, their hopes were left on this studio floor. And we want to share with you now what we call The Russert Primary, people running for president or running for high office, and then they meet Tim Russert and MEET THE PRESS.

(Videotape, March 22, 1992)

MR. RUSSERT: Can you assure the Democrats in--across the country this morning that there is nothing in your background that might emerge to doom your candidacy and the Democratic Party?

FMR. GOV. BILL CLINTON: Well, I can assure you that there is nothing in my background which is inconsistent with what I have told you already.

(End videotape)

(Videotape, December 17, 1995)

MR. RUSSERT: What happens if Ross Perot runs as an independent? What does it do to your chances?

SEN. BOB DOLE: Doesn't help.

(End videotape)

(Videotape, November 21, 1999)

MR. RUSSERT: Which Supreme Court justice do you really respect?

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, that's--Anthony Scalia's one.

MR. RUSSERT: He is someone who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade.

PRES. BUSH: Well, he's a, he's a--there's a lot of reasons why I like Judge Scalia.

(End videotape)

(Videotape, March 5, 2000)

MR. RUSSERT: George W. Bush is the nominee of the Republican Party. If that's the case, you will support him.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Yes.

MR. RUSSERT: If he came to you and said, "John, let's unite this party. I need you to be my running mate?"

SEN. McCAIN: No. No way. The vice president has two duties. One is to inquire daily as to the health of the president, and the other is to attend the funerals of third world dictators. And neither of those do I find an enjoyable exercise.

(End videotape)

(Videotape, March 10, 2000)

MR. RUSSERT: I want to ask you a very simple question. Do you believe that life begins at conception?

FMR. VICE PRES. AL GORE: No. I believe there's a difference.

(End videotape)

(Videotape, April 13, 2004)

MR. RUSSERT: Would you agree to release all your military records?

SEN. JOHN KERRY: I have. I've, I've shown them--they're available to you to come and look at. I think that's a very unfair characterization by that person. I mean, politics is politics.

(End videotape)

(Videotape, November 11, 2007)

MR. RUSSERT: This is must-win.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Well, we want to--we have to do well in Iowa.

MR. RUSSERT: But, Senator, it's must--it's must-win.

SEN. OBAMA: Oh, well, there--look, there is no doubt that we have to do well in Iowa. If we do not do well in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina...

MR. RUSSERT: The race is over.

SEN. OBAMA: Well I think that's true for any of the candidates.

(End videotape)

(Videotape, January 18, 2008)

MR. RUSSERT: Doris Kearns Goodwin said what's the biggest public adversity a person has ever faced? What's yours?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I think we all know that. We lived through it, didn't we? And it's something that was very painful and very hurtful.

(End videotape)

(Videotape, January 27, 2008)

MR. RUSSERT: I will show you where I got the quote from. I got it from John McCain, and here it is. "[McCain] is refreshingly blunt when he tells me, `I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated.'" Wall Street Journal, November 26th, 2005. You repeated it to the Boston Globe in December of '07. You said it.

SEN. McCAIN: OK. Let me tell you what I was trying to say and what I meant.

(End videotape)

MR. BROKAW: That pretty well sums it up. "What I meant."

I was always struck, Mary, by the fact that so many politicians came here and became deer caught in the headlamps, that when Tim would come after him in that civilized but persistent fashion, it would have been helpful to the candidates if they would have said from time to time, "You know what, Tim, you got me there."

MS. MATALIN: It's--they were double dumb if the got caught in the headlights, because, you know, we're all talking about how much he liked politics. He genuinely liked politicians. He respected politicians. He knew that they got blamed for everything, got credit for nothing. He knew how much they meant. He never treated them with the cynicism that attends some of these interviews. So they had a place to be loved. He understood who they were. They were a combination, as was he, of idealism and realism, so if you messed up on this show, it was nobody's fault but your own.

MR. BROKAW: And, Mike, he was also fascinated by power and the use of it, political power.

MR. BARNICLE: Yeah, he was absolutely fascinated by that. But to, to Mary's point, one of the things about Tim is that his life was so all-encompassing, with his family at the top of the tier. And Tim loved politics and loved politicians, and he loved baseball and football and basketball, because he could summon up winners and losers, and, and a score at the end of the game, you know, whether it was election night or at the end of a Yankee/Red Sox doubleheader. And he was always in the game, and Tim came to this game late, as we've talked about earlier. He came from Pat Moynihan's office and Mario Cuomo's office. And one of the things about Tim--Dick Eaton, his, his longtime friend, was telling me earlier, 1977, he goes to work for Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who he idolized in the United States Senate. And Tim arrives and is surrounded by charter members of a Mensa society--Yale Law, Harvard Law. And Tim is from Buffalo, and he was always from Buffalo. And Daniel Patrick Moynihan sensed it in him, and they were having a conversation about, you know, "Don't worry, you're not going to be intimidated by these Mensa members who you're working with." And Tim acknowledged that. And Pat Moynihan told Tim that day, as Dick Eaton, Dick Eaton told me, he told Tim, he said, "You know," he said, `what they know, Tim, you can learn. But what you know, they can never learn." And there was so much of that in Tim each and every day that he brought to this program and this country.

MR. BROKAW: I always thought that if Tim had gone into the priesthood, he would have been a cardinal, or maybe...

MR. CARVILLE: A pope. Come on.

MR. BROKAW: I was going to say. The first...

Ms. KEARNS GOODWIN: Don't stop at cardinal.

MR. BROKAW: Yeah, the first holy father from this country. If he'd gone into politics, he certainly would have been a governor and maybe president of the United States. He had enormous ambition, and people need to know about that, and I mean it in the right sense of the word. He had this path that he could never have imagined as a working-class kid from Buffalo, that would take him to the summit, and he wasn't going to, he wasn't going to forfeit his opportunities along the way.

MR. BARNICLE: Tom...

MS. KEARNS GOODWIN: And ambition, ambition is a worthy thing, though, if it's put in the purpose of the country.

MR. BROKAW: Right.

MS. KEARNS GOODWIN: And I think it's important for people to understand that. You know, a couple weeks ago when Teddy Kennedy was diagnosed with his brain tumor, we were talking about the fact that Rose Kennedy had once said to me that, if her children who died young, could to come back, meaning Joe Jr. and Jack and Bobby, they would still choose the lives they've been given to lead even though they had shortness of years because they had such productivity, such achievement. And Tim said to me, you know, "I would feel that way, too. If I, if I didn't have any more right now, I've had the life that I've wanted to lead, except that I want to see Luke grow up. I want to see him have a child. I want to have him be a father." And I just keep thinking about how extraordinary his life was, just as Mike said, everything he had he loved. He said, "I love my family, I love sports, I love this program." The people around him loved him, so he led a full life. He just wasn't give the length of years that he deserved.

MR. BROKAW: Well, and...

MR. BARNICLE: There was, there was, Tom, to your point about Tim, you know, may have been a cardinal or a pope, he was very Catholic in the big C definition of, of the faith, and, and he was a Jesuit-educated Catholic. And he brought to this table, to this form, to his life, elements of what we used to call working priests, Jesuits and Marian Oles, dealing with people who were damaged, the most vulnerable among us. That's what he brought to his life, this program, each and every day. He recognized the flaws in human beings and in himselves.

MS. IFILL: You know, you know, Tom, one of the things I--that reminds me of, one of the--this has been a horrible weekend, and one of the most calming, soothing things was told to me by a friend of ours who used to work with this program, Collette Rooney. And she was talking about how there was this long line of Irish-Catholic Pauls who were all talking to each other and always told stories, and he was a great Irish storyteller. But that she was comforted by the idea that somewhere, Mary McGory, and perhaps Moynihan, are standing, they're holding the door open, saying, "Catch me up on what's been going on. I hear it's been a great year."

MR. BROKAW: You know, I don't--the only comfort I found in the, in the events of the last several days is that, in many ways, this is the greatest year of Tim's life. He was so proud of all the work that Maureen was doing for Vanity Fair, the big story on Sarkozy recently, the seminal work that she did in Russia on what was going on, Luke graduates from Boston College, and the greatest political year of the last 50 years, Tim was in the midst of that morning, noon and night.

MS. FISCHER: And he did not want that primary season to end. He just--I mean, we would say, "OK, this is the last Tuesday night. There can't possibly be..." "No, bring it on. More, more, more, more!" you know. And, and he just--that enthusiasm that he brought to it, and he loved, he loved every minute of it. He loved every minute of it.

MR. BROKAW: There were other dimensions to Tim that a lot of people who just watched MEET THE PRESS or watched him on election coverage may not have known about. He--as Mike has indicated, he was a real baseball aficionado, loved big events, loved going to the all-star game with Mike or, or watching something on television, whether it was the Masters golf tournament. He didn't play golf, but he loved the idea of being around great athletes. And he was a real rock 'n' roll aficionado. And nothing--he was more proud of this, I think, as a college student than anything else that he did. When he was at John Carroll University in Cleveland, he brought this kind of unknown but promising rock 'n' roller to campus. He was a concert promoter. The guy's name was Bruce Springsteen. And it was--Springsteen is on tour now in Europe, and he said last night, "Tim Russert was an important, unreplaceable voice in American journalism. I watched him hold our politicians' feet to the fire on many Sunday mornings. He was always a strong voice for honesty and accountability in American government. Beyond that, he was a good father, husband and a good guy. He was a regular at many E Street Band shows, and I'm going to miss looking down and seeing that big smiling face in the crowd. Tim, God bless you. We will miss you." The Boss, Bruce Springsteen.

We'll be back after this, our only commercial interruption.

                               (Announcements)

MR. BROKAW: We're back.

Among many other great aspects of Tim Russert's life is that he shared the influences on his life with the rest of us. There was a remarkable woman by the name of Sister Lucille that he met when he was in junior high. As he put it, he was at the back of the room with spitballs and rubber bands and generally not paying as much attention as he needed to, to what was going on in the front of the room. And she went to him and said, "We need to channel those energies, Mr. Russert," and she made him the editor of the junior high newspaper. I think at St. Bonaventure, wasn't it, Tim, in, in south Buffalo? Sister Lucille, then, he shared with the rest of us. I still have a continuing correspondence with her, talked to her over the weekend. We mourned together on the telephone.

And, Maria, out in Sun Valley, Idaho, knows about Sister Lucille as well. Maria:

MS. SHRIVER: Well, I thought--I was interested, Mike was talking about Tim being educated by the Jesuits, as I was. But I think he was really formed by the nuns, as so many people of our age who went to Catholic school. I was also educated by the nuns. And I remember when I came to NBC News, the only person I knew there was you, Tom, and I remember Tim coming over and introducing himself, putting his arm around me and said, "Look it, we're Irish Catholics, educated by the nuns and the Jesuits. We're going to stick together. And one of the most important people in my life I want you to meet is Sister Lucille." And he would bring her to 30 Rock, and he would introduce her around to everybody. He would credit her with his interest in journalism. He always had me autograph books for Sister Lucille or do things for Sister Lucille. He was so occupied with her meeting everybody that he knew and making sure that everybody in his life knew her influence on him. And I thought it was such a beautiful relationship. And anybody who was educated by the nuns understood that, because the nuns always got a bad rap. And he was always trying to give a good rap to the influence of the nuns. And I, I can't think of him without thinking of Sister Lucille and his enthusiasm at introducing her around to famous people.

MR. BROKAW: And to those of us who were his friends, he was a surrogate uncle to our children, to my daughters and a godfather to, to Mike's. And, and my mother was not Mrs. Brokaw, she's Grandma Jean. I mean, she was broken up more than anyone else in our family when I called her the other day with the sad news. And I like to point out to her, when I go into her apartment, she has Tim's book on the top of the stack and not my book. So that, that tells you where the pecking order is. And Tim loves that idea, by, by the way.

Listen, not everything went perfectly here on MEET THE PRESS. One of Tim's guests was Senator Bob Kerrey, the Vietnam Medal of Honor recipient who lost a leg in Vietnam. And they had this very memorable exchange.

(Videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: But you're encouraging the president today in, in saying let the Democratic Congress negotiate.

SEN. BOB KERREY: I said...

MR. RUSSERT: Are you, are you not concerned that if you cut a deal with Republicans, President Clinton will saw your limb off?

SEN. KERREY: Oh, that's a terrible metaphor. I--since somebody's already sawed one of them off.

MR. RUSSERT: No, no, no.

(End videotape)

MS. KEARNS GOODWIN: Oh.

MR. BROKAW: Lost a leg.

MR. BARNICLE: Yeah.

MS. KEARNS GOODWIN: Oh.

MR. BROKAW: I think that we, you know, in the interest of the audience as well, I've always said that--and, and, and Tim handled that very well. But Tim had what I call 20/20 vision. He could see from 100 yards away a small, critical comment made about him in some newspaper or in some magazine. And he had that strong Irish gene, "Never forgive, never forget."

MR. BARNICLE: I think he--well, he wasn't, he wasn't thin-skinned, I would indicate.

MS. IFILL: Precisely.

MR. BARNICLE: He, he, he was, he was...

MR. BROKAW: Well, then how would you describe him?

MR. BARNICLE: He was, he was observant. He was very aware of everything. And Tim had a pen and a piece of paper, and he took names and numbers. And eventually, he'd cross...

MS. FISCHER: He...

MR. BARNICLE: Yeah. That number would come up in the Rolodex of--in the gun sights, and boom.

MS. IFILL: But, you know, I have to say, though, that Tim did not mind, really, being challenged. There was an episode a--last year at this time, actually, when Don Imus had his famous blowup. And he wanted to do an entire program about it. He appeared on the program a lot, he was friends with Don. But he wanted to talk about the uproar. And, and Betsy called and said, "Do you want to come and talk about it?" And I said, "I don't know if that's a good idea because what I might have to say, Tim might not like." And then Tim called and said, "No, no. You need to come and say what it is you believe." And he allowed me to come into his house and, and do this.

MR. BROKAW: All right. But we--do we have that--we have the actual tape, I think, of him.

MS. IFILL: We do? Oh, OK.

MR. BROKAW: All right. Gwen Ifill and Tim Russert after Don Imus.

(Videotape)

MS. IFILL: There's been radio silence from a, from a lot of people who've done this program, who could have spoken up and said, "I find this offensive" or "I didn't know." These people didn't speak up. Tim, we didn't hear that much from you.

(End videotape)

MS. IFILL: My point about that--after that, a lot of people said, "Oh, you spoke truth to power. You really got in Russert's grill that day." And I said to every single person, you know, "I don't know anybody who would have said, `Come on in my house and tell me that.'" And he let me do that. He encouraged Because it was OK to disagree because it taught him something he didn't know. It opened his mind, which he wanted to be, to an alternate point of view.

MS. KEARNS GOODWIN: You know what's so amazing? Old Machiavelli used to say, "It's better to be feared than loved," if you're a political figure, if you want power. And the incredible thing was, he was feared by the people who came on here because they didn't want to screw up, but on the other hand he was loved. I mean, he managed to do both things, which was so rare, to have authority and love.

MS. MATALIN: He loved, he loved his friends. He never--and that's not always across the board in this town. He never left anybody. He stood up for his friends, and it wasn't that we just loved him. He loved his friends and took care of them. And unlike most of this town, which is transactional, you weren't just his friend when you were in. If you were out of office, he still called you and he still was--he just was loved because he was such a lover of people.

MR. BARNICLE: He had, he had that reservoir of loyalty that so few people have. And I would think, especially in this city where I don't live but I've always likened it to what I call elevator loyalty, if you and I are going to the sixth floor to the first floor and I'm your friend and I'm very loyal, we get out you go that way, I go that way and I'm killing you half a block away. Tim was loyal. He was loyal. You were his friend. He admired you or he liked you or whatever, he would remain loyal to you through thick and thin, through--Don, Don Imus he was loyal to Don. He understood, Gwen, and learned from that experience, as we all did.

MS. IFILL: Yes, he did.

MR. BARNICLE: But it just--and loyalty is such a rare commodity.

MR. BROKAW: Well, speaking of loyalty, we all know that Tim Russert grew up in south Buffalo, working-class family. He wrote about it with "Big Russ and Me." And even though he rose to the heights, being one of the most important journalists in America, a guy who could drive a political debate in this country, had all the good fortune that goes with the success that he had, he never forgot his Buffalo roots. This is the Buffalo News. I think it's huge testimony to how they felt about him in his hometown. And we thought we would share with you just a few of the hundreds of thousands of references to Buffalo and everything connected to Buffalo that we heard on this broadcast.

(Videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: For Big Russ, his buddies back in Buffalo who helped make this country great, for the city of Buffalo and for all the underdogs in this country and around the world, go you Buffalo Bills.

Go Sabers. Bring it home. We want the cup.

How about those Boston College Eagles? On to the Sweet 16. Go Eagles.

Go Bills, get those Skins.

Sorry about those Bills, but how about those Sabers?

St. Albans Bulldogs, 25; the Gonzaga Eagles, 20. Yesterday God was not purple, he was wearing Bulldog blue.

And hey, Buffalo Sabers, nice job. Ten in a row. Make me proud.

Go Bills. Squish the fish. Hold the e-mails, I know dolphins are mammals, but, you know, squish the fish.

If it's Sunday, it's MEET THE PRESS. And, oh yes, go Bills.

(End videotape)

MS. KEARNS GOODWIN: You know, Tom...

MR. BROKAW: He was beyond shameless about the...

MR. CARVILLE: He loved--I'm telling you Saturday night I'm watching the LSU football game, and they'd scored a touchdown, 10:30. I looked on my cell, there he is. He said, "Can you believe LSU just scored? I'm so happy for you." And I go like, "Man you got to go to sleep, you got to do the show tomorrow." If, if you were pulling for a team and you were a friend of his, he'd be for the team. You know, everybody.

MR. BROKAW: Right.

MR. CARVILLE: You know, Jacob Haskell...

MR. BARNICLE: Thursday night I'm in New York, the Celtics/Lakers game is going on, and it's close. The Celtics phenomenal comeback. I'm trying to fall asleep in a hotel room, phone rings. "Hey, buddy, do you see what's going on out there? You see the run they're putting on?"

MR. CARVILLE: It just--it never--when I talk about that, that kind of little boy, he had enthusiasm for the Bills. But if you had a team, he followed his friends teams, and the number--and the--...(unintelligible)...stadium, Jacob Haskell makes a first down and my phone rings in the middle of 92,000 people.

MR. BROKAW: Wow. he was...

MS. KEARNS GOODWIN: You know, he so loved Buffalo that, even at one point when he asked me, "What are you going to do after Lincoln?" I said, "How--what can I do anything after Lincoln. I certainly can't go back to Millard Fillmore." And he said, "Now, wait. Millard Fillmore came from Buffalo. Don't say bad things about Millard Fillmore."

MS. IFILL: You know that's how I got hired here. I, I--the real reason I got my job at NBC was because I had lived for four formative years in Buffalo, New York. To heck with my...(unintelligible).

MR. BROKAW: Well, my, my best experience with him and the whole Buffalo Bills thing is that he invoked God at the end of MEET THE PRESS when the Bills were playing the Cowboys in the Super Bowl in Pasadena. And he said something to the effect that if there is a God in heaven, the Bills will win it. And I looked at him, and I said, "Look, I think you've crossed the line here." And he said, "No. I think--I feel strongly about that," you know, "and I'm urging everybody to pray." And, and he said, "I've invoked the entire Catholic Church, trying to get the Bills across the line." And so we go to the game and, of course, the Bills just completely blown out of the Rose Bowl by Dallas. And Tim was walking dejectedly with Luke at his side, who was about 10 at the time, over to the NBC party, and I went to Tim and I said, "You know what this proves?" And he said, "What?" And I said, "God is a Baptist." And to Tim's credit, he told that story wherever he appeared.

MR. BARNICLE: You could never mention Scott Norwood around Tim.

MR. BROKAW: No.

MR. BARNICLE: Wide right in the Super Bowl, Bills lose to the New York Giants. Field goal kicker.

MR. BROKAW: Well, you know, the other thing is that he's what they call in the sports business a "homer." I mean, he, you know, he was for the home team. He was for your team because it was the home team. He was for--when Luke goes to Boston College, it becomes the greatest institution in American life, and the Eagles got more possible attention than they could have imagined.

Can we just share something else? Tim had a 50th birthday eight years ago, and this is a distinguished American historian in a way that you have never, ever seen her before. Ladies and gentlemen, Doris Kearns va-va-voom!

(Videotape)

MS. KEARNS GOODWIN: (Popping out of cake, singing in Marilyn Monroe fashion) Happy Birthday...

MR. RUSSERT: Jeff, you're, you're going to see this on Imus. I like this out here.

(End videotape)

MS. KEARNS GOODWIN: Oh, God.

MS. IFILL: Did, did you sing?

MS. KEARNS GOODWIN: I had to sing. You know how Marilyn Monroe sung, "Happy birthday, Mr. President." So I had to sing, "Happy birthday, Mr. Moderator." Oh, God, it was the most embarrassing moment.

MS. IFILL: No.

MS. KEARNS GOODWIN: I thought, "I'll never be able to do it." And sometime, you put that stupid thing around your neck and you have a wig on, you become another person, at least for a few moments.

MS. FISCHER: And, you know, we had--you think of MEET THE PRESS as a serious show. We had a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun.

MR. BROKAW: Well, what I loved was the--I loved the postmortems.

MS. FISCHER: Yeah.

MR. BROKAW: Tim would do the show, I, I'd be sitting there, and we'd be on the--back and forth, back and forth, we'd be talking about who did well, you know, what their weaknesses were. This one's got a chance to go. I remember who--a candidate whose name I will not use here, who came waltzing in here one day and crawled out the door. I mean, he thought he was going to be the next president of the United States. The next time he came, he was in much better shape.

MR. CARVILLE: He was, And, and I know exactly who you're talking about. And, and Tim was proud of, Tim was proud of the guy that he came again.

MR. BROKAW: Yeah.

MR. CARVILLE: He, he, he just asks--and political consultants do this, and you, you, you have a candidate that goes on a show, you, you try to predict the questions. You, you--what the--you could predict the questions the highest on MEET THE PRESS because they were fair questions.

MR. BROKAW: Right.

MR. CARVILLE: But he'd really was offended by people who didn't prepare. And then...

MS. FISCHER: And their...

MR. CARVILLE: ...he was glad that the, the candidate did much better. He was almost...

MR. BROKAW: Well, the fact is, I believe he made all the candidates, just as I believe this long primary season's made all the candidates better, I think Tim made the candidates better.

MS. IFILL: And, Tom, you know...

MR. BROKAW: I think he has elevated the process in a lot of ways.

MS. IFILL: He made journalists better, too. I mean, one of the other postmortems that happened was around this table after every program, where we sat around and not only decompressed about what had happened on the program, but often what had happened in our reporting. I learned more things--some of them reportable, some of them not--around this table because that was part of the ritual. Part of the ritual was, "What do you know? What do you know?" That's what Tim would always say to you. And often people--sometimes guests would come out and join us. And those were sometimes the most fascinating conversations I had all week.

MS. MATALIN: You know what, Tom, he was--we talk about his ambition and his friendships and his loyalty. He was ambitious for his friends. I, I'm struck by all the colleagues, everyone is just so--he was ambitious for the interns, he's ambitious for his friends. If you had a book, he'd put you on one of his shows. He tried to help everybody. He wanted everybody to do their best. Another unique thing about this town, which is--can be zero sum. If you're up, somebody else has to be--he enjoyed everybody's success, and he pulled for everybody's success. And he put them in positions to succeed, starting with the interns. And after the show, after the postmortem, he would not sit down to the--have the little turkey sandwiches and stuff till he got with everybody who came, and they're all journalism students, and he'd...

MS. IFILL: Right.

MS. MATALIN: ...keep up with them, and he'd put them in positions to succeed.

MS. FISCHER: He would always--I--he always said this. He always said the best exercise for the human heart was to bend down and pick someone else up. And he not only picked us up, but he held us up every week, and, as the backbone of the show.

MR. BROKAW: Well, I--Mike and I've talked about this a lot, because we've shared so many common roots. I think it's really a testimony to his working-class background and, and to this country. He would always say--I hope I can get through this--"What a great country this is."

MR. BARNICLE: "What a country. What a country." I mean, his working-class roots--it's, it's such--well, almost everyone says it, you know, don't forget where you came from. And he never forgot where he came from. But where Timmy came from, conditioned to south Buffalo, was much more than that. It was--he had a missionary's zeal about him for people, for everyone, for lifting people up, for helping people in times of trouble, whether you were his friend or whether you were a complete stranger. I, I, I--and I know you could do the same thing, I can't begin to tell you the numbers of people who he knew who had a child who might be damaged in one way or another, and Tim would always call and ask to speak to that child, who--in the house, you know. "How are you doing? Julie, how are you doing?" Whoever it was.

MR. BROKAW: Right.

MR. BARNICLE: He had to--he had that touch. He just knew that--who needed to be lifted up, who needed to be helped, and he was, he was the strongest man. He had the strongest, biggest heart.

MS. IFILL: And children, who are excellent judges of character, really loved Tim.

MS. FISCHER: Oh, yes.

MR. BARNICLE: They knew it like that.

MS. IFILL: They knew it instantly.

MR. BARNICLE: Like that.

MR. BROKAW: Yeah. We--in fact, we have a, a Tim commentary that came the Sunday after 9/11 that I think summarizes that better than any of us are able to. Here's Tim on the consequences of 9/11 and what he saw.

(Videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: Together, firemen, priests and brothers wept and sang the prayer of St. Francis. "May the Lord bless and keep you and show his face to you and have mercy on you." That is the way of New York. That is the spirit of America, from February 1945 at Iwo Jima to September 2001 at the World Trade Center.

MR. BROKAW: Tim Russert commenting on 9/11.

And Maria Shriver in Sun Valley this morning, it, it, it didn't have to be...

MS. SHRIVER: Tom...

MR. BROKAW: Go ahead.

MS. SHRIVER: Oh, I was just sitting listening to everybody talk about Tim and his interest in their--people's children. I think one of the things that always struck me about Tim was his faith in God, his belief in prayer. He always carried a rosary around. And he would always say to you, you know, "I'm going to pray for you, I'm going to pray for your family, I'm going to pray for your uncle." And you knew he meant that, that he actually would really do it. And he would always talk, as you all know, about standing on his father's shoulders. And I think he was so interested in people's parents, and as people's parents grew older, he would always call me and say, you know, "How are you doing? How's your mother doing?" when he heard my mother was sick. He'd share his own struggles with his parents, or the loss of his mother, or caring for his dad, share his own journey to make your journey easier for you. He'd share his pain with you and reach out.

And I think that his understanding of family, his own family, your family, the American family, was really unique in him. I think--you know, people will tell you all over the country and in that building, that he knew about their parents, he knew about their children, he knew about what medications their parents were on, and his whole belief that we all stand on someone else's shoulders, and I think that's--when I close my eyes and think of Tim, I think of faith--faith in God, faith in family, faith in country, and, and faith in fatherhood, and faith in humanity. And I, I just wanted to say that because it, it meant so much, I know, to me, and I know to so many of the people that watch this show and that are in that room with you.

MR. BROKAW: There's a word that is used so often these days as a test for national character in politics or in culture or whatever, and the word is authenticity. And our friend was as authentic as any human being I've ever met.

It is worth remembering, this would not have been just another Sunday on MEET THE PRESS for Tim. After all, this is Father's Day, a Sunday in June in which we honor fathers. With his books, "Big Russ and Me," and "Wisdom of our Fathers," Tim gave voice to the bond of father and child. He explored the generational differences, from the World War II generation to his own baby boomer experience as a dad. And he touched off a national dialogue within families and communities about the enduring lessons of fatherhood, for dads and their offspring alike.

Away from this setting, he had no greater calling and no greater pride than fulfilling his obligation to Maureen, as her husband, and also as a son and as a father. He shared that well beyond his relationship with Big Russ and Luke, Tim's son, his pride and joy.

So in memory of Tim, happy Father's Day, which is best expressed by honoring your father, and if you are a father, by being a good dad, this Sunday and all the days to come.

Thanks to all of you for watching. God bless our friend, Tim, son and father. And as we go off the air, last night, in Europe, The Boss dedicated "Thunder Road" to his number one fan, Tim Russert.

(Montage of Tim Russert photos during audioclip of "Thunder Road")

MR. RUSSERT: I thought I would grow up in Buffalo, and if I got real lucky, I'd have a chance to go to college, maybe even law school, and then be a good lawyer here, or a good teacher here, and that would be the extent of, of, of fulfilling my dream.

You can be heard. You can reach out beyond the boundaries of south Buffalo.

Can you believe this? A Russert has met a president of the United States.

I am blessed with the opportunity to spend an entire week reading and thinking and preparing for MEET THE PRESS. It is sobering to think that on a Sunday morning, across the table at MEET THE PRESS, you're making history. But you are.

That's all for today. We'll be back next week. If it's Sunday, it's MEET THE PRESS.

Happy Father's Day, especially to Big Russ up in Buffalo. And, Luke, I'm real proud to be your dad.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

More on TODAY.com

  1. Another American doctor infected with Ebola

    Another American missionary doctor has tested positive for Ebola, an aid group said Tuesday.

    9/2/2014 5:15:35 PM +00:00 2014-09-02T17:15:35
  1. Report: ISIS kills second American journalist

    SITE Intel Group, a jihadist monitoring organization, announced on Tuesday that the Islamic militant group ISIS has killed American journalist Steven Joel Sotloff.

    9/2/2014 5:34:24 PM +00:00 2014-09-02T17:34:24
  1. Dan Hallman / Dan Hallman/Invision/AP

    Joan Rivers remains on life support, her daughter Melissa Rivers says

    9/2/2014 5:59:58 PM +00:00 2014-09-02T17:59:58
  1. Kirsty Grant / Kirsty Grant

    See why this baby is smiling... and why his dad is cringing

    9/2/2014 5:26:01 PM +00:00 2014-09-02T17:26:01