Meet the Press   |  January 01, 1910

‘Meet the Press’ was Russert’s ‘second son’

June 15: Tim Russert’s closest friends and colleagues look back at his incredible work ethic and drive on a special edition of “Meet the Press.”

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

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: 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.