More of Russert on the stand:
As well as tossing a dart into Tim Russert's credibility, Libby attorney Theodore Wells's cross-examination helped expose the all-too-chummy nature of insider Washington. He put up on the screen, Meet the Press-style, portions of the motion NBC filed in an effort to quash the May 2004 subpoena compelling Russert to testify in front of the Plamegate grand jury. It was a portrait of pomposity, and a bracing reminder of the way things work in Club Washington:
"Sources provide information to Mr. Russert based on their shared understanding that they are communicating in confidence and that he will not disclose publicly either their identities or the information provided by them. Mr. Russert has determined that absent such an understanding, public officials simply will not speak freely and candidly about the most important issues of the day."
Thank goodness for that "shared understanding." Without it the "most important issues of the day" (where are we getting drinks after the show? how scary are Saddam's WMD? ) would clearly go undiscussed, and the Republic would suffer -- or at least the access that gets high-profile guests and high-dollar book contracts would suffer.
"The special prosecutor seeks to have Mr. Russert both confirm that he communicated with a specific executive branch official on or about July 10, 2003, and testify about the content of the communications. Mr. Russert cannot provide such testimony without compromising the understanding that he shares with his sources that their communications, including the fact that they communicated at all, will not be disclosed by him publicly."
Can you believe the pomposity? Especially when you contrast it with the fact that Russert had already blabbed all that information to the FBI months before this motion was drafted. And don't you love that Mr. Russert is so righteous he can't even communicate the fact that a communication has occurred at all? Who wrote this motion, Joseph Heller?
"As a result, Mr. Russert can neither confirm that he had any communications with the public official at issue during the relevant time period nor describe the nature of any discussions that they may have had."
Who are they kidding? Hadn't he already confirmed the communication with "the public official at issue" (he that must not be named) as well as the nature of the discussion they had indeed had?
While on the stand, Russert tried to cling to the fig leaf that he had only described his part of the conversation with Libby, but in fact, as Wells pointed out, Russert had testified at the beginning of his cross-examination that he had described both parts of the conversation to the FBI.
Again, contrast Russert's disclosure to the FBI (without ever checking with Libby), with the language in the motion to quash: "From Mr. Russert's perspective as a journalist, it simply is not relevant that the official at issue has, according to the special prosecutor, executed a document that purports to release Mr. Russert and other journalists with whom he may have communicated from any obligation to maintain the confidentiality of their communications."
Russert prides himself on being the Everyman from Buffalo who cuts through the Washington double-speak and can explain it simply to his Dad, the legendary "Big Russ." So how would he explain this pompous double-speak to his Dad?
UPDATE: Jane at Atrios' has more.
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