Did Tim Russert break a promise to Libby?

A mostly political Weblog.
Nov. 6 2005 2:14 PM

The Mystery of the NBC Zombies!

Plus--Has Russert Caved?

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"

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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)!

**-- Even on the cable Abrams Report, you found NBC's Kelly O'Donnell--in the course of asking a question--intoning, robot-like, the official Clintonian NBC half-denial about "Tim Russert, who testified that he did not know Plame`s name or that she was an operative ...."  (Why is this Clintonian? Because it inexplicably and conspicuously leaves open the possibility that without knowing Plame's name Russert knew that "Wilson's wife" worked in some capacity at the CIA.) 10:22 P.M. link

For Plame Obsessives Only: According to a HuffPo item by my brother Steve, Tim Russert claimed on Meet the Press last Sunday "that on August 7th, the night of his testimony, he reported on NBC the sum and substance of his testimony." My brother  is correct. What did Russert say on August 7? Was it a full report or another strangely Clintonian efffort? Plamers want to know! But the transcript of that Nightly News broadcast is mysteriously missing from NEXIS. (It was a Saturday evening, but the other Saturday Nightly News broadcasts are in NEXIS. Only this one is missing!) If anyone has an accurate transcript of that August 7 broadcast, please send it. ... P.S.: I know Russert quoted from the August 7 show on last Sunday's Meet. But there were ellipses! ... P.P.S.: Russert also apparently misstated the crucial date. It was August 7, 2004, not 2003. Would a seasoned professional like Russert have made that mistake by accident? I have started to bolt my door. .. Update: Got it. (Thanks to JT and Factiva). ...

Buried Lede--What was in the ellipsis: It turns out that what Russert left out, when he read the transcript of John Seigenthaler's August 7, 2004 newscast on last Sunday's Meet, is the following half-sentence:

"... and was not asked questions that required him to disclose information provided in confidence."

Hmm. Does that mean this half-sentence is no longer operative? That Russert has now, in fact, given (or agreed to give) the special prosecutor "information provided in confidence," violating whatever promise to Libby he had previously asserted? (Specifically, he might have told Fitzgerald what Libby told him as well as what he told Libby.**) ...

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