Al Hunt spoke at Tim Russert's memorial service Wednesday afternoon at the Kennedy Center. Watch the speech below (transcript below):
Transcript of Al Hunt's speech:
AL HUNT, WALL STREET JOURNAL: I am Al Hunt, and I was so lucky to
have Tim Russert as a dear friend for 28 years. Tim knew there was a
heaven, as Sister Lucille just said. He is watching all of this with
a little awe, a lot of pleasure, and some rye amusement. If I had
asked him for advice, as I did in any important decision I had to
make, about being the house Episcopalian, speaking after Sister
Lucille, and before Mario Cuomo, he would have shaken his head,
smiled, and said, "Dress well".
He would view this as another payback for Henry VIII.
JANSING: We're having a little audio difficulty here. You are
listening to Al Hunt. We're listening to Al Hunt, the "Wall Street
Journal" and long-time friend of Tim Russert, as we are at his
memorial service in Washington, D.C. And as we wait to restore audio,
I think it's appropriate that in this time of people remembering Tim,
there were so many thousands of people who wrote to us, here at NBC
News, to say what Tim had meant to them in their life. And I'd like
to read to you a few of them.
From Helen in Colorado, she said, "In my heart I thank him for the
hours he spent gutting out the truth from every corner so that his
intelligence and stick-to-itiveness could light our way."
We have audio again, let's go back to Al Hunt.
HUNT: And the three of us listened to Tim give a speech. It was one
of the most memorable gridiron speeches ever and I heard it twice.
But the other reason he came over was he wanted to show off his new
girlfriend-Northern California, Berkeley, stylish, gorgeous, the
perfect counter programming for the kid from Buffalo. He was smitten.
To be as great as Tim was, you need a healthy ego, a good sense of
self. But he always marveled that he had gotten Maureen Orth to fall
in love with him. Four years later, Judy and I went to New York to
see the most memorable baby in almost 2,000 years.
Luke was two days old and Tim would stand outside the nursery and beam
and say, "Look at those hands. Did you notice how much more active he
is than all the other kids." Luke was going to be the Daryl Talley to
those uneducated-that was the Buffalo Bill star linebacker in 1985 --
or president or pope, maybe all three.
Luke, that pride only swelled over the last 22 years, and he was never
prouder of you than at Holy Trinity, this morning.
When Tim went into journalism, it was a career choice. He never saw
it as a revolving door. As Michael Gartner wrote in that beautiful
piece this week, however, he did have to be talked into going on the
air. I was enlisted in that effort. And after all the perfunctory,
"I have a race for radio" stuff, what it really came down to was that
Tim knew that in short order, he had become a management star. On the
track, the fast track to be president of NBC News. He wasn't sure if he
would be the best on-air, anything less was unacceptable to him. In
short order, of course, he was the best.
He wasn't sure if he would be the best on air.
Anything less was unacceptable to him. In short order, of course, he
was the best.
That Tim was the preeminent political journalist in America is all the
more remarkable, considering the context. At a time when our news
business, newspapers and television, is struggling, trying to discover
new formulas, panaceas, more edge, techno glitz, Tim turned to the
oldest virtues and verities in the profession: preparation, integrity,
fairness, accountability, chalkboards, tough but civil, and an
enormous respect for his viewers and the noble calling of politics.
He made it informative, interesting, compelling.
Now, it didn't hurt that he also possessed the instincts of Ted
Williams and the competitiveness of Michael Jordan. More than a few
flunked the Russert test, the political bar exam, but not because of a
gotcha question or a cheap shot. That was alien to him. If a
politician was serious, substantive, prepared, and candid, he or she
passed the Russert test, and they in America were better off for it.
And oh, did he sparkle and shine in his favorite election: this one.
Our last conversation two weeks ago, he exclaimed, "Albert, can you
believe they pay us to cover this election?"
On a personal note, none of us had a more devoted friend than Timothy
J. Russert. Whenever you needed help, he was there.
Our oldest son is disabled. An essential figure in his life for ten
years has been Tim. Sending him hats and notes, calling him when he
got back from school last month, periodically bringing a welcome
exuberance to Jeffrey's (ph) life.
Maureen and Luke, your loss is profound. But I hope it provides
comfort in knowing that million and millions around the world, from
the most powerful to all those whose Sunday mornings revolved around
Tim Russert's "MEET THE PRESS," to the many children and those in need
who he was always there for, that they love him, they'll miss him, and
always will remember him. And we shall not see his like again.