Meet the Press   |  September 21, 2014

‘No one was more prepared’ than Russert

June 15: Betsy Fischer, executive producer of “Meet the Press” looks back at the life and legacy of Tim Russert.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

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.