Tim Russert became the first press casualty of the Lewis "Scooter" Libby trial on Thursday, but most of his colleagues neglected to report it**. The host of NBC's "Meet the Press" was identified, in evidence submitted to bolster the testimony of Dick Cheney aide Cathie Martin, as the vice president's platform of choice to push back against allegations that the administration knew that their claim of an Iraqi attempt to buy uranium from Niger was bogus. The overt implication is that the administration regarded Russert as a patsy, someone whose unaccountable credibility they could borrow to enhance their own, and someone through whom they could present their case with a minimum of interference.
Whether despite or because Russert sits atop the heap of Washington's political journalism community, none of the institutional press reports on Martin's testimony mentioned the demeaning Russert reference in Martin's notes. One suspects that had the reference been to Russert's opposite number on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace, reporters would have felt perfectly comfortable slipping in a dig or two.
Yeah, the MSM is gettin' awful brave of late when it comes to dissin' Fox Noise.
In fact, tracking down reporters who didn't know more about the case than they imparted to their readers, whether to protect sources or themselves, might be more difficult than identifying those who did. As with almost everything connected to Iraq, this was not a shining moment for many Washington journalists. There is perhaps no better source than Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner to give voice to the despairing press critic's view on the relationship between the Washington press corps and the Bush administration. From Light in August:
"Jesus Christ!" Grimm cried, his young voice clear and outraged like that of a young priest. "Has every preacher and old maid in Jefferson taken their pants down to the yellowbellied son of a bitch?"
Pretty much. I think they've figured out that they've dishonored themselves and the craft of journalism by their complicity in the immorality of Bush's war. Now they're trying to figure out how to clean it up without admitting mistakes or making themselves look bad.
Sorta like Bush. It ain't gonna work for them either.
One thing the Libby trial is doing a good job of is showing up their malfeasance. I hope the press corpse will admit that they done bad, take their lumps, and proceed with vigor to help undo what they've done. Fat chance, idealistic white boy.