by David Phinney
Sunday June 16th 2024



Tim Hates Chris and Other Nasty Business

Kiss, kiss in the Beltway. Tales of media favors, backstabbing and manipulation.
This morning’s Los Angeles Times reports on the Libby trial:

As they talked by phone, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby scribbled down a series of Machiavellian suggestions from Cheney’s then-communications guru, Mary Matalin: What to do about MSNBC talk show host Chris Matthews and his steady barrage of Iraq war criticism? “Call Tim,” Libby wrote, referring to Tim Russert of NBC News. “He hates Chris.”

No mention of that in’s wire rewrite…. Mmmm, what a love fest.

Testimony from two of the Bush administration’s top media handlers — former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer and former Cheney communications director Catherine J. Martin — have largely taken center stage during the first five days of the trial, notes reporter Greg Miller with the LA Times.
And, those crafty media handlers in the Bush White House spent a good deal of time scheming away, doling out news like bon bons:

Martin, in particular, offered in her testimony last week an unusually detailed description of how the White House seeks to manipulate the news media.
She described plans to leak stories to certain reporters, including the New York Times’ David E. Sanger and the Washington Post’s Walter Pincus; freeze out others, such as New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof; book administration officials on talk shows such as Russert’s “Meet the Press”; and release bad news on weekends, when it was more likely to be ignored.

(Now, how can a working reporter take the White House press office seriously the next time a press officer answers a question with the perennial “when’s your deadline?”)
It sounds as though office politics at the White House were just as manipulative. Tim may hate Chris, but somebody at the presidential mansion unsheathed the long knives for Libby as well.
Tim Reid with The Times reports on nasty accusations that West Wing power players tossed Libby out to the snarling dogs beyond the White House gate:

Mr Libby’s lawyers claimed yesterday that White House officials rallied around Mr Rove but stopped short of protecting Mr Libby. Having been asked by Mr Cheney to rebut Mr Wilson’s criticisms, Mr Libby felt betrayed and sought out his boss.
“They’re trying to set me up. They want me to be the sacrificial lamb,” the attorney Theodore Wells said, recalling Mr Libby’s end of the conversation. “I will not be sacrificed so Karl Rove can be protected.”

ADD: Justly noted. Ana Marie Cox beat the clock with her “Tim Hates Chris” item yesterday. After posting on, she later added the caveat:

UPDATE: Just to be clear, not everyone hates Chris Matthews (though apparently many commenters do); I just think there’s something kind of awesome about “Everyone Hates Chris” being a show on the CW network. I am personal a long-time, committed fan of Matthew’s eccentric approach to political chat, n.b.: “ALL PANTS ARE MADE IN CHINA NOW!”

(And not to burn a bridge to future TV appearances?)


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