If I were Tim Russert I’d be as hopping mad as a Buffalo Bills fan on any given Sunday. First, Dick Cheney’s office tried to scapegoat him in the Plamegate scandal and then Cheney’s staff wanted to book the VP on Meet the Press specifically because they found it easy to “control the message” on Russert’s show.
To recap: Cheney’s former chief of staff Scooter Libby is on trial for perjury, specifically for falsely claiming that he first learned about Joe Wilson’s wife from Tim Russert. (Read David Corn’s Capital Games for a full account of the trial so far.) According to former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer’s testimony, Libby knew about Valerie Plame before he talked to Russert.
If Fleischer is correct and Libby was lying, the interesting question is not why (to protect himself and his boss) but why out of all the people in the media business Scooter picked Tim Russert to blame.
Former Cheney communications director Cathie Martin, who was tasked with containing the Plame scandal after it broke, shed some light on this question. “I suggested we put the vice president on ‘Meet the Press’ which was a tactic we often used,” Martin revealed in recent testimony. “It’s our best format.”
There is clearly only one way this convoluted circle can be complete. Tim Russert needs to invite Cathie Martin on Meet the Press, read that quote back to her, and ask her to explain.