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Kurtz: ‘The Education of Luke Russert’

The Daily Beast‘s Washington Bureau Chief Howard Kurtz tackles a story that has often been discussed in a hush-hush manner in Washington. Many journalists around town have strong reactions to NBC’s Capitol Hill Correspondent Luke Russert. Kurtz’s profile is largely gentle with Russert, while stating, but not voicing specifically the complaints of his critics. There is a teary scene involving a tattoo he got on his torso when he was 18 of his father’s and grandfather’s initials. The story includes interviews with Russert, his mother, Vanity Fair Correspondent Maureen Orth, and Democratic pundit and strategist James Carville, who says, “I think for awhile he thought he had to go to every party in Washington.”

The story states in bold: “Charges of nepotism flew after the NBC reporter stepped on stage following the death of his famous father. Howard Kurtz talks to Russert about stage fright, weight loss and his critics.”

Read the piece here.

An excerpt:

The rookie correspondent for MSNBC got a dual immersion in what he calls the “family profession,” since his mother, Maureen Orth, is a Vanity Fair correspondent. But he says he felt no pressure to make the leap after his father died of a heart attack 2-1/2 years ago.

“I never viewed it as I had to pick up the torch and move forward,” Russert says in the press gallery in the Capitol, the ornate building where he spends most of his waking hours. His dad “often told me I could do whatever I wanted to do as long as I worked hard and did it with honor.”

Kurtz says it was tough to get the story and it took “months and months” …

He is relaxed, earnest and witty during the rare interview, granted only after months of requests (the NBC publicity team is very protective of him and discouraged me from following him while he works). On camera, though his delivery is greatly improved from his sometimes halting debut, Russert sometimes seems like a class cutup standing up extra straight and trying not to let a curse word slip. That has the effect of restraining his personality, in contrast to his father’s passionate performances.

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