Russert Watch: Watching Scooter's Back

Newly released court documents add fuel to the speculation that Tim Russert didn't want to testify about his conversations with Scooter Libby because he thought it would land Scooter in hot water. Isn't that sweet? So even after Scooter released Russert from any promise of confidentiality, Mr. Meet the Press had his lawyers petition a judge to let their client take a pass on talking with Pat Fitzgerald -- arguing that doing so would, in the words of the Washington Post, "harm Russert's relationships with other sources." Sources? Like he's some kind of investigative reporter, digging into big stories? Please! Russert was simply worried that it would make it harder for MTP to land the big gets in the Bush administration -- and that, in turn, his loyalty would make it easier.

It's still early, but this line from Russert's lawyers might just qualify for the Most Thunderingly Obvious Statement of 2006 Award: "[It] appears that Mr. Russert's testimony is sought solely because the Special Prosecutor believes that his recollection of a telephone conversation with an Executive Branch official is inconsistent with that official's statements." Ya think?

One interesting aspect of all this: According to today's Washington Post, the Russert court papers were released after being sought by the New York Times. So how come the Times doesn't have anything on this? Did the Times get scooped on its own story again?

For more on Russert's attempts to avoid dropping a dime on Scooter, check out Tom Maguire, The Left Coaster, Atrios, and Holden at First Draft.