Meet the Press   |  April 19, 2014

Ifill: Russert ‘didn’t mind being challenged’

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

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

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 .

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.

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.