Tim Russert: Extraordinary Outpouring of Affection

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News of Tim Russert’s sudden heart attack and death has been met with an extraordinary outpouring of grief and affection, and round-the-clock coverage usually reserved for the passing of heads of state, or rock stars.

CNN has, so far (as of 10p mountain time), devoted the entire evening to remembrances of Russert, starting with Larry King Live and guests Ted Koppel, Paul Begalia, Wolf Blitzer and Bob Schieffer.  

King then handed off anchor duties to Campbell Brown.  (Russert mentored Brown before she joined CNN about a year ago.)  

At times her voice trembling and her eyes filling with tears, Campbell Brown credited Russert for giving her the "big break."  

"He was the person who hired me to be a Washington correspondent - my first television network job," said Brown.  "He stood behind his people.  He was so amazing about defending and supporting us."

CNN Washington correspondent Joe Johns called Russert a "defining figure" and "role model." 

Political analyst David Gergen said Russert "set the gold standard" in journalism, and talked about the "great sense of loss."

Many spoke of Russert’s prosecutorial interview style and his many kindnesses.

An interview with Russert’s doctor, internist Michael A. Newman, was replayed several times.  Newman claimed there was "no way to anticipate or detect" the sudden rupture caused by plaque.  (Russert suffered from asymptomatic coronary artery disease, which he treated with medication and exercise, according to Newman.)

With the intense public interest in Russert’s passing, Newman may come to regret his remarks and the scrutiny that may follow.  Russert’s death is sure to renew interest in the benefits and drawbacks of heart scans.

ETA - Sunday, June 15.  Yes, the experts are starting to weigh in.  From  Triage, a Chicago Tribune medical blog:

Two years ago, Shah [Dr. Prediman K. Shah, director of cardiology at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles] and other experts recommended that all men over the age of 45 and women over the age of 55 have heart scans to identify dangerous plaque deposits.  If found, people could follow preventive measures such as taking aspirin or cholesterol-lowering drugs or have procedures to put stents (small wire scaffolding) in blocked arteries.

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