Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Torquemada on NBC

Tim Russert has the reputation for being a tough interrogator on Meet the Press, but only if guests are Democrats. If a Republican is in the hot seat, well it isn't so hot. I don't know why expectations were so high for his interview with the President. As always the Daily Howler gives us the low down when Russert and his colleagues lose their appetite for real journalism.

Russert doesn't stand up to Vice President Cheney. Why would anyone think that he would ask the President hard questions? On September 14, 2003 Russert had this exchange with Cheney about the Bin Ladens and other Saudis who were allowed to leave the U.S. on September12th and 13th of 2001.

MR. RUSSERT: Vanity Fair magazine reports that about 140 Saudis were allowed to leave the United States the day after the 11th, allowed to leave our airspace and were never investigated by the FBI and that departure was approved by high-level administration figures. Do you know anything about that?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I don’t, but a lot of folks from that part of the world left in the aftermath of 9/11 because they were worried about public reaction here in the United States or that somehow they might be discriminated against.

Russert did not follow up. He did not ask the Vice President another question about the departure of people who could have been considered material witnesses if not suspects in the murder of 3,000 Americans. Of course, Russert followed up with Wesley Clark on the subject of Michael Moore in a January 25th interview. You can read the entire transcript, but Russert asked a total of four questions about Moore's characterization of Bush as a deserter.

MR. RUSSERT: Is it appropriate to call the president of the United States a deserter?

MR. RUSSERT: But words are important, and as you well know under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, if you're a deserter, the punishment is death during war. Do you disassociate yourself from Michael Moore's comments about the president?

MR. RUSSERT: The right of dissent is one thing, but is there any evidence that you know of that President Bush is a deserter from the United States armed forces?

MR. RUSSERT: One of your major supporters uses words like that. Isn't that a distraction?

Hmmm, four follow up questions about a film maker's remark, and no follow up when the Vice President claims to know nothing about Bin Laden's relatives leaving the country without being interrogated. Is the media liberal? I report, you decide.