Tim Russert has died of an apparent heart attack, NBC has confirmed. He was 58.
The Meet the Press host and acclaimed journalist collapsed at the NBC Washington news bureau Friday afternoon and was pronounced dead shortly after. Tim had only recently returned from a family vacation in Italy.
His former colleague and former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw came on air at 3:39 p.m. to pay tribute to his late friend.
“Our beloved colleague…was one of the premier journalists of our time," Tom said. “This news division will not be the same without his strong, clear voice."
NBC is still in "shock" with grief, an insider tells OK!, and is at a loss with how to handle Sunday’s broadcast.
"We will probably do a tribute show," the insider says.
Executives at NBC Universal and General Electric released the following statements about their colleague’s passing:
Jeff Zucker, CEO of NBC Universal:
"We are heartbroken at the sudden passing of Tim Russert. We have lost a beloved member of our NBC family and the news world has lost one of its finest. The enormity of this loss cannot be overstated. More than a journalist, Tim was a remarkable family man. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Maureen, their son, Luke, and Tim’s entire extended family."
Steve Capus, President of NBC News:
"This is a loss for the entire nation. Everyone at NBC News is in shock and absolutely devastated. He was our respected colleague, mentor, and dear friend. Words can not express our heartbreak. Our thoughts and prayers are with Maureen, Luke, Big Russ and all of Tim’s family."
Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO, General Electric:
"Everyone at GE and at NBC Universal is devastated by the loss of our colleague and friend Tim Russert. Tim was a giant in journalism and a face and a voice that America trusted. He earned that trust through hard work, love of his profession and, above all, through his enduring honesty and integrity. And most importantly, Tim was a wonderful human being who valued family and friends over all. We will miss him greatly. My sincerest sympathies go out to Tim’s family and to the many people whose lives he touched."
A political heavyweight who got his start working under New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Gov. Mario Cuomo, Tim had been host of Meet the Press since 1991. He also served as NBC News’ Washington Bureau Chief and was a correspondent on a number of NBC programs, including The Today Show and Hardball.
He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Maureen Orth, a Vanity Fair writer, and their son, Luke, a recent Boston College graduate.