On Meet the Press today -- even more than usual -- it was not the questions Russert asked but the questions he didn't that revealed the most. Not about the world, but about Russert. Because what was missing from Meet the Press today was, well, the press. Specifically, Judy Miller and the New York Times. There wasn't a single mention of either during the roundtable of journalists discussing the week's news.
Miller has been out of jail just three days, her reasons both for going in and for getting out are still, at best, utterly baffling, her stunning absence (except for a minor correction to a previous article) from the pages of Sunday's Times continues the self-inflicted damage to one of the most important news institutions in the world... but not one word is uttered about all this on a show called Meet the Press!
Instead precious time was spent during the roundtable (with Dan Balz of the Washington Post and John Harwood of the Wall Street Journal) asking meaningless horse-race questions about 2008. It was as if Tim just wanted to run out the clock.
There was, for example, a whole discussion about 2008 and whether Condi would be "a logical candidate for vice president."
The truth is, no one knows what's going to be happening three years from now. This is a question that sounds like it matters, but it's really just asked to fill real estate that might otherwise be devoted to something that really does matter.
Like the New York Times, and Judy Miller. So why was Tim so shy about bringing them up? Because of his own role in Plamegate (something he avoided disclosing to his viewers back in July when Plamegate was discussed)? Or because his first loyalty is to the establishment of which the New York Times is a part rather than to the truth and to the public?
In the first part of the show, we were treated to an interview with John Abizaid, who gave us a list of talking points he might as well have had faxed over from the White House, where they clearly had been written. The key word was optimism -- mentioned by the general five times: "I'm optimistic. General Casey is optimistic... The commanders in the field are optimistic... I'm optimistic... Many of the Iraqis are optimistic."
You know who else is optimistic? The president. A quick Google search will show that lately he's been "optimistic about our future" and "optimistic we can spread freedom."
As for me? I'm optimistic too. But Meet the Press just sucks it out of you.