"It's my sad duty to report this afternoon that my friend and colleague, Tim Russert ... collapsed and died early this afternoon while at work in the NBC news bureau in Washington," Tom Brokaw of NBC News said on the air Friday. "Tim had just returned from a family trip to Italy with his wife, Maureen Orth, the writer, and his son, Luke. They were celebrating Luke's graduation from Boston College just this spring."
Russert, a Buffalo, N.Y., native who was this year named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine, was also NBC News' Washington bureau chief.
"This is a loss for the entire nation," Steve Capus, president of NBC News, said in a statement Friday. "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."
Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric, described Russert as "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," Immelt added.