Tim Russert, the managing editor and moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press” and political analyst for “NBC Nightly News” and the “Today” show, was selected to give the 146th Commencement address at Washington University in St. Louis in 2007. Russert received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree in 2007.
Russert also anchors “The Tim Russert Show,” a weekly interview program on CNBC; acts as a contributing anchor for MSNBC; and is senior vice president and Washington bureau chief of NBC News. He received an honorary doctor of humane letters during the ceremony.
“We are grateful to have Tim Russert deliver Washington University’s Commencement address this year,” Wrighton said. “Tim Russert has been a truly outstanding leader on the national news media stage for nearly two decades. I know our graduates and their guests will value the opportunity to hear from such a respected and distinguished journalist.”
Russert, who joined NBC News in 1984, is no stranger to the Washington University campus. He covered the three presidential debates WUSTL has hosted since 1992.
Leaving a mark on the field of journalism
Russert has interviewed every major figure on the American political scene, including President George W. Bush in a rare hour-long interview on “Meet the Press,” as well as numerous other world leaders and newsmakers.
He supervised the April 1985 live broadcasts of the “Today” program from Rome, negotiating and arranging an appearance by Pope John Paul II, a first for American television. In 1986 and 1987, Russert led NBC News’ weeklong broadcasts from South America, Australia and China.
Since Russert took the helm of “Meet the Press” in December 1991, the show has become the country’s most watched Sunday morning interview program and, according to NBC, the most quoted news program in the world. Now in its 60th year, “Meet the Press” is the longest-running program on television.
The Washingtonian magazine has described Russert as the “best and most influential journalist” in Washington, D.C., and “Meet the Press” as “the most interesting and important hour on television.”
TV Guide selected his use of the dry erase whiteboard, on which Russert predicted “Florida, Florida, Florida” would be the pivotal state in the 2000 presidential election results, as one of the “100 Most Memorable TV Moments” in history. The Washington Post credits him with coining the phrases “red state” and “blue state” to explain the nation’s political divide.
Earning well-deserved recognition for his work
In 2005, he received an Emmy for his role in President Ronald Reagan’s funeral coverage. He won the Radio & Television Correspondents’ Association’s highest honor, the Joan S. Barone Award, as well as the Annenberg Center’s Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism for his 2000 election interviews with Bush and Al Gore on “Meet the Press.”
Russert received a 2001 Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence in Television Journalism for his March 2000 interview with Sen. John McCain.
Other awards he has received include the John Peter Zenger Award, the American Legion Journalism Award, the Veterans of Foreign Wars News Media Award, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Journalism Award, the Allen H. Neuharth Award for Excellence in Journalism, the David Brinkley Award for Excellence in Communication, the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals’ Gabriel Award and the Golden Plate Award of the Academy of Achievement.
He is the author of two New York Times No. 1 best sellers — “Big Russ & Me, Father and Son: Lessons of Life” (2004) and “Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons” (2006).
Russert, who was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, is a trustee of the Freedom Forum’s Newseum and on the board of directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington and America’s Promise – The Alliance for Youth.
He has received 43 honorary doctorate degrees from American colleges and universities and has lectured at the Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Reagan Presidential libraries.
In 1995, the National Father’s Day Council named him Father of the Year, Parents magazine honored him as Dream Dad in 1998 and, in 2001, the National Fatherhood Initiative also recognized him as Father of the Year.
Irish America Magazine named him one of the Top 100 Irish Americans in the country, and he was selected as a fellow of the Commission of the European Communities.
Russert, who was born in Buffalo, N.Y., May 7, 1950, received his bachelor’s degree from John Carroll University and graduated with honors from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He is a member of the bar in New York and the District of Columbia.
Before joining NBC News, Russert observed the inner workings of the executive and legislative branches of government as a counselor in the New York governor’s office in Albany in 1983-84 and as a special counsel in the U.S. Senate from 1977 to 1982.
Russert is married to Maureen Orth, a writer for Vanity Fair magazine. They live in Washington, D.C., and have a son, Luke, who is a student at Boston College.