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We’ll leave aside for now the high hilarity of George Stephanopoulos having Tom DeLay on to talk about ethics, and letting him blather on about corrupt Democrats virtually without challenge (I can think of 20 things a good journalist would’ve started hammering DeLay about on the spot, but obviously DeLay took the gig because he had no fear of anything like that happening).  Howard Dean did an excellent job of scoffing at the absurdity of the situation, but then came Father Tim recounting practically the same narrative.  So did Maura Liasson.  The thing that they all seem to be terrified of is that the Democrats will gain a majority and start impeachment proceedings (or at least launch investigations) of the White House (it seems to be Chris Matthews’ deepest, darkest fear).

I have to ask — is this matter really polling that well?  Are Americans trembling in fear that the GOP might have it’s dirty laundry tossed by the Democrats?  It all sounds a bit Tell Tale Heart to me.  Now I know why DeLay doesn’t want it to happen, but why are Matthews and Russert so consumed with fear of Congressional oversight?

I’d like to harken back to probably my favorite story I’ve ever written on.  It has to do with a footnote in a Fitzgerald filing when Russert was fighting tooth and nail to keep from having to answer the Special Counsel’s questions.  Russert was claiming that the general waiver signed by Scooter was "coerced," and that if he testified his "sources" would never trust him again.  To which Fitzgerald said

It is also relevant to note that Russert has treated an asserted waiver of the reporter’s privilege quite differently when convenient. When Richard Clarke published his book Against All Enemies and testified before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the September 11 Commission), Clarke became subject to intense media scrutiny. On March 24, 2004, the White House disclosed Clarke’s identity as the "senior administration official" who gave a "background" briefing in August 2002. When Clarke appeared as a guest on Meet the Press on March 28, 2004, Russert noted the White House had been aggressive in attacking Clarke’s credibility and had identified Clarke as the source for the background briefing — without indicating any concern about the "voluntariness" of the waiver, in which Clarke apparently played no role. (Copy of the March 28, 2004, Meet the Press transcript, Exhibit 1). Russert did not hesitate to broadcast out of any concern that such disclosure might chill future background sources.

I just love that tight, brutal paragraph.  I have to resurrect it every now and again if only for my own amusement. 

Russert fucked Richard Clarke, Fitzgerald knew it and he called him on it.  Russert was willing to sell the high journalistic principles he claims to cherish so much down the river for the party and the access he values even more.  He fought relentlesslyl to keep from helping Fitzgerald (and the public) nail Scooter Libby.  How is he going to feel when people like John Conyers (whom he smeared this morning — and Conyers fires back here) start looking into the all-too-cozy relationship that the press had with the White House in leading the country down the garden path to war?

The next time Russert and Matthews start quaking in their shoes at the thought of Democrats with subpoena power, I think it’s time to remember that it’s not their beloved Republicans they fear for, and given their ecstatic participation in the Cliniton hunt it sure isn’t the public.  Could it be their own sorry asses they fear being exposed?  Is that why they’re working overtime to spread GOP narratives and attempting  to strike fear in the hearts of their viewers at the specter of impeachment?  

You know, I think it just might be.