You know, I have heard a lot of excuses during my lifetime, but I have to say that this from Tim Russert may be the weakest crap I have ever heard. Via CJR:

…why have Wright’s way-out words received wall-to-wall coverage while Hagee’s hateful homilies have hardly been mentioned?

IMUS: Big stretch for Frank Rich to suggest that Rev. Hagee, that somehow McCain has the same relationship with him as Obama had with Rev. Wright but he did run it up the flag pole yesterday, didn’t he.

RUSSERT: He sure did. There’s been a lot of chatter on that, you know, about Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson’s comments after September 11th. If there was video of Hagee, it makes all the difference in the world….

If only there were video of Hagee. Then the Russerts of the world, Russert seems to imply, might have paid a bit more attention to him. Readily-available visual clips, you see, would have made “all the difference in the world.”

Clips like… this one? There for the taking since January on YouTube (a fact that Frank Rich led with in the column that Imus and Russert were discussing— complete with instructions for the uninitiated on exactly how to summon a Hagee clip on the YouTubes)?

Russert continued:

It’s interesting the Wright story was around, had been talked about a bit. At the Cleveland debate… I asked Obama about Farrakhan and Wright. What really broke it out though was that video that got on the reel and it kept playing over and over and over again. And because, as you point out, the 20-year relationship [Obama had with Wright]… but I don’t think the Hagee thing, McCain hasn’t been questioned, has not been scrutinized about thatHe’s really been given this grace period to go around the country

Translation: Of course I, Tim Russert, helped to nudge the Wright story into the mainstream with one of my signature timely, hard-driving debate questions but, in fairness, what really “broke it out” was “that video that got on the reel and it kept playing over and over and over again” (How did that video get on that reel and manage to play itself repeatedly? On my show, even?). Meanwhile, McCain has “been given this grace period” by…well, by me and my peers. (emphasis mine)

Jeebus, unless Tim Russert — the NBC News Washington Bureau Chief — is employing his entire staff from the Ted Stevens Toobz Temp Agency (Hulk smash media?!?), there really is no excuse for this level of boobery. Unless, of course, it’s a deliberately willful obtuseness fueled by a desire to not do one’s job properly, to remain ignorant of how the scary internets and Teh Google work, or some sort of weird rib fugue.

That quote from Jonathon Alter on MSNBC’s Countdown makes so much more sense in this context, doesn’t it?

MADDOW:…But, why do you think that he is still treated as a maverick in the media as if he‘s offering some substantial departure from the status quo?

ALTER: Well, I think it‘s because the battle hasn‘t really been joined. You know, it‘s up to the Democrats, and this is what politics is about, to portray him as, you know, Abe Simpson, you know, Bart‘s grandfather, that krotchy (ph), the old guy who wants to foreclose on your house.

You know, that‘s not the job of the media to do. That will come out of our politics. I think it‘s only a matter of time because, you know, McCain made a speech recently that was very unsympathetic to people who had been victimized by predatory lending. His health care plan does nothing for those who were discriminated against because of pre-existing conditions, and that‘s a lot of Americans.

So, there are certain issues where he is really out of step with the American public, but the American public doesn‘t quite know it yet because the general election campaign hasn‘t really gotten going. (emphasis mine)

It’s going to be a long, stupid slog to November…

(YouTube from Timmeh’s first day of testimony at the Libby trial. Remembrances of "Dick Cheney Owns Tim Russert" testimony past…)