Ken Auletta on Tim Russert: A Mixture of "Toughness with Humanity"

“He had this wonderful ability to mix toughness with humanity, especially in an age when lots of people are posing as tough guys,” said The New Yorker‘s Ken Auletta.

It was Friday evening, and Mr. Auletta was on the phone with the Observer, speaking of the late Tim Russert, who passed away on Friday afternoon of an apparent heart attack.  

“If you go back and look at the early years of Meet the Press–Lawrence Spivak, who started it, and his successors–they tended to be very stern. They asked questions that appeared to be tough. But that was as much of the manner in which they asked them as the substance.”

“The substance of Tim’s questions were tough,” said Mr. Auletta. “But Tim never looked stern. Tim liked people. He could come in and glad hand and swap stories before Meet the Press. Once he was on the air he was all business.”

Meet the Press became the first primary of the presidential campaign,” added Mr. Auletta. “Long before Iowa and New Hampshire there was Meet the Press. You had to go on there and prove yourself. That wasn’t true before Tim. Tim made that.”

Ken Auletta on Tim Russert: A Mixture of "Toughness with Humanity"