For more than 16 years, he has cross-examined politicians and newsmakers as host of Meet the Press. In this election, his studio is still the premier hot seat in politics. Tim Russert will now take your questions
Don't you just want to scream in interviews when politicians spin a direct question? John Holecek, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Yes. [Laughs.] But my fear is if I did that, then I would be seen as becoming part of the interview in a way that I don't want to be. Many times a politician will try to goad [you] into a debate because then it neutralizes the questioner and you surrender your objectivity.
Do you have strong political views, or have you found the ability to rise above it all? Carole Ramsay, Morris Plains, N.J.
Lawrence Spivak, who founded Meet the Press, told me before he died that the job of the host is to learn as much as you can about your guest's positions and take the other side. And to do that in a persistent and civil way. And that's what I try to do every Sunday. My views are not important.
Are there books that you've read that inform your approach to the political process? R.L. Brown, Richmond, Va.
The classics are very important to me. All the Kings Men, Advise and Consent, The Prince. The most interesting thing for me is watching or reading the 60 years of Meet the Press. I am very taken by how many times the issues and the rhetoric constantly repeats itself.
Do you get any enjoyment out of skewering politicians? Tom Hale, New York City
I don't believe I do that, and that's certainly not my goal. What I try to do is elicit information. Sometimes it means asking a question two or three times. I recognize that I'm persistent. If a politician wants to offer bromides, they can buy a 30-second commercial.
Is there anyone you want to interview whom you haven't yet? Andy Green, Clinton, Iowa
I've interviewed every major political figure. I'd like to have a conversation with Bruce Springsteen. I earned my way through law school by booking a Springsteen concert in 1974.
Does the drama that unfolds onstage continue offstage? Memi Sofer, Be'er Sheva, Israel
Many times the atmosphere in the studio is very tense. A candidate will come in and not have much to say beforehand. Many times, when we go to a break, nothing is said. It depends on the guest.
Do the media have an ethical responsibility to cover each and every presidential candidate? Linda Tidrick, Huntington, Conn.
Initially. But the voters make some decisions relatively quickly as to who are the more serious candidates. When it gets down to a point, I think it's very fair for a news organization to make an editorial judgment that some candidates have a more serious claim on a nomination than others.
How does a regular person get to the underlying truth of all the candidates' claims? Keith Parmentier, Westland, Mich.
I think it's imperative that you try. The best way is to watch programs like Meet the Press and the other Sunday programs. I'm a great believer of watching C-SPAN. The more information you can learn, the more complete your judgment will be.
Is it possible to be your "authentic self" and still run for President? Mark Schmidt, Cincinnati, Ohio
I think it is difficult, [but] people are yearning for anyone who will talk to them in a candid and open way, acknowledging that they don't have all the answers but have thought about the problems in an intelligent way.
Your book Big Russ and Me is a reverential look at your relationship with your father. Do you and your son share a similar bond? Eli Wongtrakool, Sharpsville, Pa.
It's much different growing up in Washington in 2008 than it was growing up in Buffalo in 1958. But the lessons, I think, are timeless. I'm very close to my son and my father, and for that alone I'm a very blessed man.