Longtime NBC newsman Tim Russert’s death of a heart attack on June 13, 2008 surprised colleagues and viewers across the country.
Tom Brokaw moderated “Meet the Press” in the aftermath of Russert’s death. After much speculation about who would get the job permanently, David Gregory began hosting the Sunday morning talk show.
Gregory’s performance has been steady, but some competitors see opportunity.
On Sunday’s show, Gregory asked Vice President Joe Biden about his memories of Russert and shared some thoughts of his own. Here’s an excerpt from the official NBC transcript of the show (modified to correct the misspelling in the original of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s name).
MR. GREGORY: Before you go, speaking of people we learned from, Tim Russert.
VICE PRES. BIDEN: Yeah.
MR. GREGORY: Painful anniversary this week.
VICE PRES. BIDEN: Yeah.
MR. GREGORY: He’s been gone a year. Some thoughts this morning?
VICE PRES. BIDEN: Yeah. You know, he was a force. He was a force. I’m wearing my Tim Russert tie that…
MR. GREGORY: I noticed that.
VICE PRES. BIDEN: …that Maureen sent me, his wife. I got a chance to do Wake Forest commencement that he was supposed to do. And the irony is the only sort of bittersweet thing, David — and by the way, I think you’re doing a great job. Presumptuous of me to say that, probably ruin your reputation, but, but, you know, it was a year ago almost to the day I was supposed to be on the program with him. I got — I was supposed to be on that Sunday, and Friday got the call.
And it just is still almost surreal. I mean, this guy, this guy was bigger than life. This guy, you know, this guy extended beyond what he did on this show. I mean, it was — and the thing I liked about him best, I liked — as I said to the kids down there at the commencement, when I first met him he was working for Moynihan and I was a young senator. I knew the staff better than I knew the senators. And by the way, I’m four years senior to Moynihan. You know, he had come along after my four years. And I remember him asking me about whether or not I thought — did I ever have any doubts about my ability to do this. He told me the story about Moynihan where he walked in saying, “All these guys with these Rhodes Scholarships and things, and Ivy League schools, I don’t know whether or not I can — I should be here.” And Moynihan looked at him and said, allegedly — and it sounds like Moynihan — he said, “Look, Tim, you can learn what they know. They can never learn what you know.”
MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.
VICE PRES. BIDEN: That’s the special thing about — that was special about Tim. My mother would say it’s an Irish thing. She’d say he had a sixth sense. And he really did. I mean, it was a rare, a rare gift and it’s missed.
MR. GREGORY: Mr. Vice President, well said. Thank you very much and good luck with your important work.
MR. GREGORY: Finally this morning, remembering Tim Russert. Our friend, mentor and colleague died a year ago this week. While there is still a big hole without him, those of us who worked alongside Tim don’t feel alone. He’s here, still teaching by example, still offering the lessons of a full life we can emulate. As the columnist Peggy Noonan wrote after his death, “Tim’s many virtues were his parting gift.” And I can tell you, they keep on giving. Tim is in God’s arms now. His memory is a blessing. Our job, just like he would always say, keep it going.
CORRECTION: This story has been modified to correct the misspelling in NBC’s official transcript of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s name.