The Hole in the "Oil Spot" Strategy
Plus--You Can't Shut Anyone Up Anymore.
Contacted late Sunday night, Matthews said, "I don't know. Tim never told me that. I never heard that. I just don't know. I don't want to be in the position of telling you about a phone conversation I was not a party to. ... You've got your source." He suggested that I call Russert.
Matthews added, however, that Catherine Martin, an aide in the vice president's office, once told him that "Scooter thinks anytime anybody uses the word 'neoconservative' it's anti-Semitic."
"I'm sorry. It's an ideological term," Matthews said.
I called Russert's office this morning. They referred me to an NBC spokeswoman who emailed, "I do not speak for Mr. Libby, therefore I cannot comment on what Mr. Libby may or may not have said." That makes no sense at all, because I was asking about what Russert himself heard from Libby, and Russert could certainly speak for Russert. But that was NBC's response. ...
Background: For why I think charges of anti-Semitism against anti-neocon Iraq-war opponents are wrongheaded, here and here. For examples of people, other than Scooter Libby, making such charges, see David Brooks and Lawrence Kaplan. ... Here's the distinguished historian Stanley Hoffman saying the same thing Matthews often says without getting trashed as prejudiced . ... Here is The Forward taking a sensible middle ground, after citing as "startling" a question about Israel asked of Richard Perle on national TV by ... Tim Russert! ... 9:18 A.M. link
The Mystery of the NBC Zombies: When you think about it, isn't it a bit incredible that NBC could go through an entire Meet the Press episode about the Libby case, and a whole CNBC show, and innumerable newscasts, telling its viewers that in a crucial conversation Libby had called NBC's Tim Russert
"complaining about a report he had been watching on MSNBC"
without, as far as I can see, telling its viewers the extremely relevant information that the MSNBC report in questionwas about Joseph Wilson and his trip to Niger, if that's in fact what it was about (something that the NYT, among others, has suggested)? If it was about Wilson, after all, that makes it much more plausible that Libby and Russert at least came close to talking about Wilson's wife's role in arranging the Niger trip. ...
It's not that NBC's "reporters" aren't telling the whole story. They aren't even telling the minimal, basic gist of the story that others are telling. It's getting cult-like and creepy!**
Why would NBC keep its viewers in the dark--letting them think that maybe Libby was calling to complain about a report on global warming? Possible answers: a) They're worried they might encourage early challenges to Russert's credibility; b) They're hiding something; Or c) If press accounts make Russert seem even more embroiled in the Wilson/Libby case than he is now, he will inevitably have to give up his perch as "neutral" moderator of Meet the Press, at least temporarily? (I don't think he should have to give it up--it makes for better TV if he's a player! But there would be pressure for him to do so.) ... kf thinks: (b)!
Photograph of Judith Miller on the Slate home page by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.