Senator Patrick Leahy and former Vt. Gov. Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, were quick to issue statements of condolesences Friday afternoon after learning that Tim Russert, host of NBC's Meet the Press, had died from a massive heart attack while at work in Washington D.C.
"Today we lost one of the true giants of American journalism and a tremendous public servant," Dean's statement said in part. "A tough interviewer, Tim delivered the news with authority, in a plain-spoken way that made the great issues of our day accessible to everyone. His love of politics and our country came through in his relentless pursuit of the truth and in the quality of his work as a journalist."
Leahy's remarks were more brief: "He was a national treasure, and the news of his passing came with shocking suddenness and deep sadness. He never lost his enthusiasm, and he lived every realm of his life with gusto. Tim threw all of himself into his family, his faith, his newsroom, the world of politics, and even his teams. His zest was infectious, and no one could help but like and admire him.
Both Leahy and Dean were guests on Meet the Press multiple times. Leahy was often queried by Russert on the program regarding national security, anti-terrorist and judiciary issues.
Russert's combative interview with Dean in mid-2003 was seen as a turning point in Dean's presidential campaign, sparking an unexpected influx of donations to the Dean for America campaign from viewers who thought Russert was disrespectful toward the ex-Vermont governor.
Whatever you thought of Russert, the man was a journalist who did his homework. I'll miss him.
-- Sam Hemingway