As a newly-minted NBC political correspondent, Russert, 23, traveled the country this fall with both presidential campaigns, scored exclusive interviews, and channeled the energy of America’s young voters into compelling journalism. His late father, Tim Russert, would have been proud.
WERE THERE ANY PARTICULARLY MEMORABLE YOUNG VOTERS?
At the DNC there was a woman from Birmingham, Ala., named Lakisha, a single mother with three kids who’d never voted before, but who decided to canvass for Obama and was selected as a delegate. Her grandparents were sharecroppers, and her great-grandparents were slaves. The emotion she expressed right after Obama gave his acceptance speech was so genuine that it made a deep impression on me. I’ll never forget that interview.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO SWITCH FROM RADIO TO TELEVISION JOURNALISM?
Certain aspects were challenging. It takes a lot of practice to get your voice in the right pitch and to enunciate specific words. Pete Williams of NBC has been giving me lessons, and I’m eternally grateful for them.
ARE YOU STILL OPTIMISTIC ABOUT POLITICS AFTER SEEING IT UP CLOSE UP?
No campaign is 100 percent honorable. It would be impossible to conduct a campaign that way and win. That said, the McCain campaign deserves a lot of credit for steering clear of the Jeremiah Wright controversy; it would have been easy to play on the fears of white voters, and they made the decision not to.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR?
I’m signed up with NBC through August of 2009, and with Sirius-XM Radio through March of 2010. I plan to continue covering politics for NBC and sports for Sirius-XM.
Photography Joseph Allen