Tim Russert, host of NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” collapsed and died yesterday in a Washington newsroom – two short days after he attended the Pope’s General Audience on a family vacation to Italy.
NBC has reported that Russert, originally from Buffalo, NY, had ruptured an artery causing his death at the age of 58.
Russert, known for his intense interviews and as a best-selling author, had just returned from a trip to Italy with his wife and son. According to Politico.com, on Wednesday he attended Pope Benedict’s weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square.
This visit wasn’t the first time he had gone out of his way to visit a Pontiff.
The Chicago Tribune called Russert “an observant Catholic” who was invited to meet Pope Benedict during his visit to the U.S. last April. CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, also from Buffalo, told the Tribune that as they waited for the Holy Father to arrive, “Russert was excitedly clutching his rosary and beaming.”
“This wasn't Tim Russert, the powerful anchor and moderator of 'Meet the Press,' it was just little Timmy from Buffalo.” Blitzer continued, “He looked at me before the pope came in and said, 'Can you believe it, two kids from Buffalo are about to meet the pope?'”
Politico.com also reported that during a graduation address Russert gave last year to students at Washington University in St. Louis, he described meeting John Paul II. “As the Pope approached me, you heard this tough, no-nonsense, hard-hitting moderator of ‘Meet the Press’ begin our conversation by saying, ‘Bless me, Father.’ And he took my arm and said, ‘You are the man called Timothy from NBC.’ I said: ‘I am YOUR GUY. Don’t forget this face.’”
The announcement of Russert’s death was made by NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw. He recalled Russert’s strong work ethic and devotion to his family.