Mr. Russert, last Sunday (June 1, 2008), on “Meet The Press” you had as your guest former George W. Bush Press Secretary Scott McClellan. You asked him the following question:
“Some have suggested because you were part of the propaganda machine that sold the war, that many people have died and been injured because of the war, you should donate some of the profits from this book to the families of the victims of the Iraq War. Will you do that?”
Here’s the clip from the show.
That’s an excellent question, Mr. Russert. Although YOU you haven’t accepted any culpability for your own enabling during the lead up to the war as McClellan has stepped-up to do, it’s still a fact that “Meet The Press” provided a national platform for the Bush administration to push its war with minimal challenge from YOU. Thus, Mr. Russert, I’d like to ask you that very same question:
Because YOU were part of the propaganda machine that sold the war, that many people have died and been injured because of the war, shouldn’t you, Mr. Russert, donate some of your hefty salary from your show to the families of the victims of the Iraq War. Will YOU do that?
On last Sunday’s show, you also chided Scott McClellan for not questioning his boss, George W. Bush, on whether the war on Iraq was “a war of necessity or a war of choice” – the same question you asked Bush on February 8, 2004 in your highly anticipated interview from the White House Oval Office. Here’s that exchange between you and G.W. Bush:
RUSSERT: In light of not finding the weapons of mass destruction, do you believe the war in Iraq is a war of choice or a war of necessity?
G.W. BUSH: I think it’s–that’s an interesting question. Please elaborate on that a little bit. A war of choice or a war of necessity? I mean, it’s a war of necessity. We, we, we–my judgment, we had no choice when we look at the intelligence I looked at that says the man was a threat.
Bush wasn’t granting many interviews at the time so this was a real “get” for “Meet The Press.” However, as we now know, Mr. Russert, since you were such an asset to the Bush administration, this interview was more a “get” for them than for you.
Here’s that clip
Mr. Russert, this is what you said to Scott McClellan ragarding that very same question of whether it was a war of necessity or a war of choice:
“Why didn’t you [McClellan] say to him, “Mr. President, this is the fundamental issue confronting our country.” Why didn’t you go to your superiors and say, “Guys, ladies and gentlemen, we have a problem here. This is the fundamental issue, choice or necessity, and the president seems unaware of it.”
Mr. Russert, you are so oblivious to what journalists do that your own clip proves your inanity. You’re supposed to be the “journalist.” Why didn’t YOU drill down on Bush over that very same question? You had the perfect opportunity when you asked it but YOU JUST LET IT GO! Yet you assail Scott McClellan – a man who’s shown more courage in two weeks than you’ve shown in years! Do you really believe we’re that naive?? It wasn’t McClellan’s job to grill Bush. Bush was McClellan’s boss! It was yours!
I waited an entire week for that George W. Bush “Meet The Press” interview. It was so heavily hyped that I honestly believed you might do your job. Even today it stands as one of the most disappointing hours on television. Bush just rambled on and you let him push his agenda. It rivaled Geraldo Rivera and Capone’s empty vault for hype with no substance. But its ramifications weren’t silly. They were dangerous. (MTP/Bush transcript link below).
In Dick Cheney’s March 16, 2003 appearance on “Meet The Press” (transcript link below), Cheney filibustered your every question and pushed his agenda for war. You asked all the EXPECTED questions from which Cheney made his case. Eighty hours later, Bush launched “Shock & Awe.” A former government official has already claimed, Mr. Russert – under oath I might add – that your show was useful to the administration in pushing its pre-war message. Here’s what Vice President Cheney’s own former Communications Director Cathie Martin said during the perjury trial of Scooter Libby:
“I suggested we put the Vice President on ‘Meet the Press,’ which was a tactic we often used. It’s our best format.”
As Dana Milbank wrote in the Washington Post on January 26, 2007:
“Flashed on the courtroom computer screens were her [Martin's] notes from 2004 about how Cheney 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.”
For the record, Mr. Russert, lots of us like whistle-blowers like Scott McClellan. We need them because in the lead up to the war and throughout this Bush administration, corporate media has not done its job. Right now McClellan is doing what corporate media should have been doing all along. He’s telling us the truth. We thank him for his courage and for his offer to share the proceeds of his book with those who have suffered.
And YOU, Mr. Russert. Will YOU ante up for the victims of the war that YOU helped promote? If McClellan should do it – SHOULDN’T YOU?!
– by Linda Milazzo
Bush’s MTP transcript (Feb 8, 2004)