Friday, February 09, 2007

Russert on Libby

Just One Minute:

Well, if the defense can raise questions, they can also insinuate answers - Fitzgerald was well aware of Russert's little problem and threw him a rope, at least in the public filing (there is also an Affidavit of Special Counsel which may cite the FBI cooperation.) So, Fitzgerald kept quiet about Russert's problem, and now Russert is delivering payback with his still-helpful testimony. True? Who knows? Reasonable
doubt? Make the call!

Let's connect a few more dots. Let's imagine, HYPOTHETICALLY, that Russert did in fact mention Wilson's wife to Libby - why would he lie to the FBI about that? Simple - his source was Andrea Mitchell; if Russert admitted he had a source, he would not be able to invoke reporter-source privilege (and lose that fight in court). Instead, he would have to give up Ms. Mitchell and let her fight to protect her source (a fight she would have lost, if Judy Miller and Matt Cooper are useful examples).

And the impact on Tim? Well, NBC reporters might be a bit less forthcoming with Tim if talking to Tim led to being subpoenaed. And it would be harder to be Washington Bureau Chief if the other reporters stop talking to you, yes? Maybe he could think of five million reasons a year to minimize his own involvement in the investigation - protect sources, protect Andrea, protect his paycheck.

The Huffington Post:

There are two trials going on. One is about Libby's role in Plamegate and will be decided by a jury, which will determine if Libby ends up in jail. The other is about the media's role in Plamegate -- and, by extension, the war in Iraq -- and will be decided by the court of public opinion. No one will go to jail, but credibility will, and should be, affected -- and that will be a very significant byproduct of the Libby trial. It has already demonstrated the gulf between the principles those in the press theoretically live by and reality. For example, there was Russert in his testimony, saying with a straight face, "We try to stay away from rumors... Rumors don't make it on the air." As opposed to all that solid, fact-based pre-war discussion on Meet the Press about aluminum tubes and Saddam's WMD, I suppose?

As for York's assessment that "the netroots types hate Cheney and Libby. But they really hate Tim Russert": I can't speak for anyone else (what exactly is a "netroots type," anyway?) but I can assure you that I don't hate Scooter Libby or Tim Russert. I don't even hate Dick Cheney. I'm outraged by what Libby, and in an infinitely larger way, Cheney have done to our country. And I consider Russert emblematic of the way mainstream journalists have enabled the tragic failures of the Bush administration. But I don't hate any of them. Again: dealing with two different but not contradictory thoughts at the same time.

Regardless the outcome of the Libby trial, the press is certainly not going to come away unscathed. However, it's probably wishful thinking to expect that it will prompt a change in behavior among the entrenched media elites.

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