Howie Kurtz writes about Tim Russert’s testimony yesterday.
From the moment he hobbled into the wood-paneled courtroom on a single crutch from an ankle injury, Tim Russert seemed very different from the familiar television figure of Sunday morning combat.
He was careful, sober and subdued. He spoke in a flat monotone. He offered responses such as “I don’t recall saying that specifically, but I may have,” and “You’ll have to refresh my recollection on that.” Gone was Russert’s usual bombast and showmanship.
And does Kurtz think that Russert is the “cockiest pundit”? You read between the lines on this one:
It was, at bottom, a case study in the importance of controlling the microphone. On the air, NBC’s Washington bureau chief asks the questions, frames the issues or serves up political insight.
On the witness stand, by contrast, even the cockiest pundit is by definition on the defensive. Russert, a lawyer, measured his words and frequently answered the question he wished he had been asked rather than the query posed by Libby attorney Ted Wells.
And we almost got to find out how much Big Russ makes a year:
There was one question that Russert did not have to answer. “Does NBC pay you in excess of $5 million a year?” Wells asked. The judge sustained an objection.