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PlameGate Weekend: A Selection

As if we could be exhaustive here; the zone, she is flooded. All we can do is pluck some highlights for your edification.

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  • Tim Russert lets everyone else do the talking: The NYT has a curious piece on Tim Russert‘s “Meet The Press” yesterday. Titled “TV Newsman Is His Own News in the Leak Case,” it sets up a dramatic expectation that Russert actually turned “his trademark attention to an atypical topic: himself.” I read this piece having missed the show and read on looking for exciting revelations. Yet the rest of the piece consists of recapped events, Russert’s comments from phone interviews, and quotes from other people; it’s only halfway down that we are told “Mr. Russert declined to discuss the circumstances of his testimony in much detail beyond the official statements he and NBC issued at the time, and he largely confined himself to repeating those statements on the air on Sunday.” Which kind of means that he wasn’t his own news and didn’t turn his trademark attention to himself, but whatever.

    At HuffPo, of course, Arianna sighs loudly and rolls her eyes, annoyed but not surprised that she’s learned nothing new from Russert. She cites Steve Lovelady at CJR who honestly can’t believe Russert could fail to acknowledge the “silent elephant” in the room, saying “nothing. Nada. Non. El zippo. Not one word.” about his role in the matter (and thus joining a distinguished group of journalists who, upon being implicated in PlameGate, promptly clam up: Novak, Miller, and now Russert).

  • “We’re not being undermined by North Korea…we’re being undermined by our own officials.” This weekend 60 Minutes put together an excellent segment on how the leak affected Valerie Plame, other CIA agents and national security in general. Joseph Wilson says “there have been specific threats” to his wife and family. Other quotes: “One of the worst things about the leak is that it gives America’s enemies clues about how the CIA operates” “She’s an expert in WMDs. These are the kinds of people that don’t grow on trees” “I think any time the identity of a covert agent is released, there is some damage. And it’s serious.” It is an excellent piece. Read it here; watch it here. [via Crooks & Liars]
  • What did Cheney know and when did he know it? Enquiring minds want to know, specifically the one belonging to Nicholas Kristof, who (like us) wonders if Scooter acted alone and thinks Cheney’s got a choice: explain or resign. Newsweek, meanwhile, devotes their cover to “Cheney’s Man” (aka “Cheney’s Cheney”), saying, interestingly, that Cheney’s influence is on the wane with Dubya (Time says he’s lost confidence in Cheney, Rove and Andrew Card). Drudge, meanwhile, excitedly predicts an executive-privilege showdown when Fitzgerald tries to get Cheney to testify against Libby.
  • The open question of Novak’s source: Also in Newsweek, crack investigative reporter Michael Isikoff reports that Novak cooperated with Fitzgerald from “early on” and did, in fact, reveal his source — “whom Fitzgerald never charged, apparently because the mystery leaker told the truth to the grand jury.” Also, apparently some eleventh-hour evidence on Rove’s behalf gave Fitzgerald “pause.” Hmm. [Newsweek]
  • Also: Harry Reid thinks Rove should be fired and said so on “The Week”; David Remnick writes on Bush: insular, arrogant, and all of the sudden, adrift and alone thanks to a “Hell Week” in which all sorts of systemic White House problems came home to roost; Matt Cooper recounts his chat with Scooter; and Frank Rich thinks this one’ll be a long time unravelling.

    UPDATE: We can’t be exhaustive, but we can exhaust ourselves trying to be! Salon’s Eric Boehlert made some good pre-and-post “Meet The Press” points on Russert that bear inclusion: (1) Despite the fact that the discrpancy between his and Libby’s testimony got Libby indicted for perjury, “for more than a year, Russert, free to discuss his testimony publicly, never disclosed that key discrepancy himself. He didn’t just bury the lead, he buried the whole story”; (2) he references a “carefully-worded” NBC statement neglects to actually mention that Russert and Libby never discussed Plame: “why was that glaringly important point, which would have caused Libby some discomfort prior to the indictment (as well as advanced the story in 2004), why was that left unsaid?” In hindsight, he says, that seems the opposite of transparent; (3) Boehlert connects some dots following this morn’s NYT piece which, though it “completely fails to mention the deceptions in play” does help explain Russert’s reticence: “Libby’s boss, VP Cheney, has appeared on Russert’s “Meet the Press” no fewer than 10 times since being sworn.” [HuffPo] SIDE NOTE: I find myself going to HuffPo more and more for this kind of dogged attention to detail. Ariannna continues to collect talent. HuffPo is not only a player, but a heavy-hitter. Two weeks shy of six months, people.

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