One of the things I noticed when reading over Fitzgerald’s newly released August 27, 2004 affidavit (PDF) was this:
Libby has testified that he spoke with Tim Russert on July 10 or 11, when Libby called to complain to Russert in Russert’s capacity as NBC Washington Bureau chief about what Libby perceived to be unfair coverage by Chris Matthews of MSNBC (Matthews was reporting that the Vice President and/or his staff knew about Wilson’s trip to Niger and thus, in Matthews’ view, knowingly allowed the President to mislead the public in the State of the Union.)
This would appear to put to bed one of the rumors that circulated about that Russert/Libby call to the effect that Libby was complaining about Matthews’ use of the word "neocon" as being anti-semitic. Russert could’ve killed these rumors himself simply by being candid about these exchanges but it’s become quite obvious that Father Tim’s loyalty is to slavering at the feet of power and not to performing any kind of news function.
If Murray Waas’s reporting is correct (and given that Murray’s coverage of this matter has a far better accuracy record than anyone else’s, so it probably is) Cheney heard on June 17, 2003 from George Tenet that the Niger information was bogus. He probably realized some day of reckoning might be at hand. With Joe Wilson speaking out about his early trip to Niger in the NYT on July 6, 2003 and some (though not Wilson himself) connecting the Vice President to this trip, it makes perfect sense that Libby and his fellow OVP jackanapes would kick into overdrive to try and distance Big Time from any association with foreknowledge before Tenet threw himself under the bus on July 11, 2003. Bullying the media is one of their standard issue bag of tricks, and with classic Cheney overreach they could not stop with merely protecting him, they defaulted to organized crime mode and tried to ruin Wilson as well for what they could only perceive as ratting them out.