The Washington Post has described Tim Russert as “one of the few journalists in a puffed-up, preening profession who really matter” (5/23/04). In welcoming and honoring this Buffalo native, Siena College recognizes the significant contributions he has made to the field of broadcast journalism.
Mr. Russert grew up in Buffalo, New York and attended Canisius High School, where he received a Jesuit education. He has written about his roots in his new book, Big Russ & Me. which focuses on the central role his father has played in his life. To provide for his family, Mr. Russert's father, Timothy Russert, Sr., worked as both a sanitation foreman and as a truck driver for the Buffalo News. His father's determination to succeed seems reflected in Mr. Russert's own employment history.
While attending John Carroll University, in Cleveland, Ohio, he paid for tuition by working summers as a garbage collector, cab driver, and pizza cook. When he received his B.A. in political science in 1972, he became the first person in his family to earn a college degree. In the year he took off to earn money for law school. Mr. Russert taught as a substitute teacher, worked in Buffalo city government, and booked Bruce Springsteen to play at JCU, his alma mater! Upon graduation from Cleveland State University's Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, in 1976, he was hired by Daniel Patrick Moynihan to direct his campaign for U.S. Senate in western N.Y. State and later to run his western district office. In 1979, Mr. Russert became Moynihan's chief of staff, a position he held until choosing to work as an adviser to newly-elected N.Y. governor, Mario Cuomo, in 1983.
In 1984, Mr. Russert joined NBC as a vice president and assistant to the president of the network's news department; his energy and insightful comments on political events led to his appointment as a political analyst for NBC Nightly News and the Today program. In April, 1985, Mr. Russert oversaw the Today show's live broadcasts from Rome, where he achieved a first for American television: an appearance by Pope John Paul II.
In 1991, Mr. Russert began to appear as a panelist on Meet the Press. He is now Managing Editor and Moderator of the show, which in its 58th year is the longest running program in the history of television. In this position, he continues to interview major figures in politics, and his name has become synonymous with asking probing questions and refusing to accept vague responses. Mr. Russert also serves as senior vice president and Washington bureau chief of NBC News, and anchor of The Tim Russert Show, on CNBC.
Mr. Russert has received numerous honors and awards. Among them, his interviews with George W Bush and Al Gore, on Election 2000 Meet the Press, won the Radio and Television Correspondents' highest honor, the Joan S. Barone Award, as well as the Annenberg Center's Walter Cronkite Award. His interview of Senator John McCain (March 2000) shared the Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence in Television Journalism. Other awards include: the American Legion Journalism Award, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Journalism Award, and the David Brinkley Award for Excellence in Communication. Irish American magazine has also named Mr. Russert one of the top 100 Irish Americans in the country.
Although his professional career receives the most recognition, Mr. Russert also finds time to support numerous charitable organizations. He serves as trustee of the Freedom Forum's Newseum and on the Board of Directors of both the Greater Washington Boys and Girls Club and America's Promise-Alliance for Youth.
Mr. Russert lives with his wife, Maureen Orth, a writer for Vanity Fair magazine, and his son, Luke, in Washington, D.C., and he has even received recognition for his accomplishments as a father. He was named "Father of the Year" in 1995 by the National Father's Day Committee, was honored by Parent's magazine as "Dream Dad" in 1998, and was recognized as Father of the Year by the National Fatherhood Initiative (2001).
Today, Siena College honors Tim Russert, with the degree Doctor of Letters, in recognition of his contributions as a broadcast journalist, media executive, and author.