Behind Luke Russert's Abrupt Exit: John Boehner's Advice

'You've got to learn something else,' the then-House speaker told him
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2023 11:30 AM CDT
Luke Russert Explains His Abrupt Public Exit
Luke Russert, in 2014.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Luke Russert had a promising career in TV news in front of him at a young age when he abruptly walked away from it all in 2016. Now 37, the son of the late NBC News icon Tim Russert is explaining his rationale in a new book, Look for Me There: Grieving My Father, Finding Myself. "It is a personal story," writes Alan Pergament in a flattering review in the Buffalo News (hometown paper of Tim Russert). "But it also is a travel guide full of world history and religious lessons." In the book, Russert writes about his travels to six continents as he continued to grapple with the unexpected and "soul-crushing" death of his father in 2008, per Today.

He also recalls how the eulogy he delivered at his father's funeral catapulted him favorably into the national spotlight. "That single eulogy, that remembrance, will change my career trajectory—and my life," Russert writes in the book. "Out of my worst day will come my biggest opportunity." He took on an increasingly bigger role at NBC in his 20s as he covered Congress. So why the decision to bolt as he neared 30? As the Washington Post notes, it stemmed from unexpected advice from John Boehner, who was then speaker of the House and who knew Tim Russert well.

"You've got to learn something else," he says Boehner told him in 2015. "You can't just live in the political bubble your entire life, because there's no 'real' there." (See Russert talk about the advice in this appearance on Meet the Press, his father's old show.) In an interview, Boehner confirms the moment and tells the Post he considered Russert "one of my boys," adding, "I just thought he could do a lot more with his life than follow members of Congress around." Now that he's back in the US and the book is out, Russert says he isn't sure what comes next. Says Boehner: "I think it's time for me to have another conversation with him." (More Luke Russert stories.)

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