When Ariana Huffington criticized Tim Russert and Meet the Press for the questions posed to Republican Chairman Ken Mehlan during an interview in 2005, writing "Tim Russert is fast becoming journalism’s answer to the “E-ZPass," no follow-ups -- or lame follow-ups quickly abandoned, media critics such as Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post rushed to Russert's defense, defending the lack of follow-up questions, snickering How dare Russert not act as a Democratic debater!
On Thursday the truth about Meet the Press, or Beat The Press as many view it, was exposed during the trial of Scooter Libby when Vice President Dick Cheney's former communication director, Cathie Martin, explained how Russert was viewed as Cheney's puppet.
As the Washington Post's Dana Milbank wrote, Memo to Tim Russert: Dick Cheney thinks he controls you.
Milbank explained that Martin testified she advised Cheney "how he could respond to allegations that the Bush administration had played fast and loose with evidence of Iraq's nuclear ambitions. "Option 1: "MTP-VP," she wrote, then listed the pros and cons of a vice presidential appearance on the Sunday show. Under 'pro,' she wrote: 'control message.'"
"I suggested we put the vice president on 'Meet the Press,' which was a tactic we often used," Martin testified. "It's our best format."
So the GOP favored Meet the Press because they knew they could control the show's message. Wait a second, isn't Beat the Press part of that legendary liberal cabal that fights Republicans and conservatives? In reality, Russert has always been tougher on Democrats than Republicans, witness this gem from the Daily Howler.
Throughout his New Yorker piece, for example, [Nicholas] Lemann seems to roll his eyes at the “branding” involved in Big Russ & Me. Beyond that, he suggests that Russert bungled the two crucial sessions with Cheney. On the other hand, he shows Russert “go[ing] in for the kill” as he interviews Gore in July 2000, and he recalls Russert taking the same approach to Hillary Clinton in that same election season.
Surprise, surprise, the so-called "liberal media" is little more than a patsy for conservatives. But Russert isn't alone on being a patsy, as that was on display on Wednesday with Cheney's interview with Wolff Blitzer who had such poorly written questions that Cheney was able to roll right through them with Blitzer left stuttering, "but, but...."
Just another day at the media's GOP E-ZPass office apparently.