Tim Russert dies of heart attack

Tim Russert, NBC News Washington bureau chief and host of “Meet the Press,” died this afternoon of an apparent heart attack.

The network interrupted its programming to announce news of Russert’s death this afternoon. Russert, 58, was lauded on-air by several prominent NBC News journalists, including former “Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw, current anchor Brian Williams, who was reporting from Iraq, and chief White House correspondent David Gregory. Each recalled memories of Russert, such as his journalist prowess, love of family and affinity for rocker Bruce Springsteen.

Russert, who took over as host of “Meet the Press” in 1991, has hosted several presidential debates. He wrote two New York Times best-sellers, “Big Russ and Me” in 2004 and “Wisdom of Our Fathers” in 2006.

The Radio-Television News Directors Association issued a statement mourning Russert’s death. “Tim was one of the outstanding journalists of our time,” said RTNDA president Barbara Cochran in the statement.

“He had a passion for news and a passion for politics and combined them in a remarkable career. He reinvigorated the Sunday morning interview format and made these programs must-viewing across the nation,” said Cochran, who worked with Russert during her tenure as executive producer on Meet the Press.