In the United states and International politics and journalism, many people know him, and at least as many people do not know him.
Either way, he was, in my opinion, the strongest voice of what the United States refers to as a "free press" as being necessary to maintain the union.
He asked the tough questions, he got to the bottom of things... when you faced off with Tim Russert, you knew you were facing your own documentd past, your well cited words, and your proven actions, and not just meaningless partisan spin and speculation. Spin was never allowed as meticulously researched quotes, verifiable votes, unimpeachable sourcing set Mr. Russert apart from what many call "pundits", commentators and "talking heads" of what passes as "journalism" these TMZ, tabloid inspired, sound byte enhanced "fair and balanced" days.
Meticulous in his research, his personability, likability, and his neutrality when asking the tough questions that make those in power squirm even made his detractors respect his command of the facts, ironclad sourcing, and his well researched to-the-point questions.
There were records as well, such as the longest running host on the longest running TV show of all time, but that truly doesn't do justice to what Tim Russert did and Meant to the political landscape...
He was the Jerry Garcia of Journalism in an analogy I would make, and those of you who know me understand what that kind of compliment means, and today is a great loss, not just to TV, nor to journalism, but to freedom.
What he did was protect and ensure it... what has been lost today cannot yet be measured in terms of quality, as well as ensuring accountability to those who make decisions that affect us all. We lost a strong force in "good" today, essential to the process the United States was formed under.
I do have to thank you, Mr. Russert... you have no equal in what you did, how you did it, and as consistently as you did it.
But I will mourn you... I didn't know you as a person, and perhaps I might not have liked you at all had I known you. Perhaps you would have been my best friend... I am under no hallucinations as to even, before this very moment, contemplating having a beer with you, much less calling you "friend"... on a personal level at least.
But you will be missed, by me, by television, by politics, by journalism, and by the very freedom we base our concept of the United States on.
I hope the great admiration, respect, and sorrow of your loss on a non personal level is not understated.
If you were half the person in your personal life as you were to the United States as an unofficial "check and balance" on the bloated, lying, stealing, manipulative US government, you were a very good man.
Thank you for your contribution, and you will be truly missed by someone you never even contemplated existing. Your role in history may end up being understated, but your contributions will hopefully live on to inspire and will be appreciated by those who understood what you did for truth, freedom, democracy, and the foundation the United States was founded on. You will be truly be missed, on a personal level, I am sure, by your family, but also, not the least bit overstated, by the citizens of the United States of America, even if they didn't realize what you did or even who you were or why you have been so important.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Russert.