Little Russ and the Prosecutor, Part II

Back in the July, when it first appeared that Tim Russert might be more than a simple bit player in the Valerie Plame investigation, we asked whether it was appropriate for Russert to discuss the case on his show without disclosing his role. It seemed a largely hypothetical question then.

Now, though, we know that Russert is anything but a bit player. He was named in the indictment (PDF) numerous times and cited by name by Patrick Fitzgerald during his press conference Friday. In fact, it seems like Russert’s testimony is the key hinge of the entire indictment.

Yet he still managed to make it most of the way through yesterday’s show before mentioning his integral role: “Then Mr. Scooter Libby, the chief of staff for Vice President Cheney, was indicted for obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements, including conflicts with testimony from journalists, including myself, Matt Cooper of Time magazine and Judy Miller of The New York Times.”

Then he went “inside” the indictments to talk more about the case, attempting to explain the complicated nature and background of the charges.

It’s not often that we find ourselves agreeing with the right-wing group Accuracy in Media, but they certainly do raise an interesting point in this instance: Is it appropriate for Russert to be discussing this case on television?

And why yesterday did he not begin the show with a disclaimer? Does he assume that his whole audience is smart enough to know that he’s a key player?

> As Mike Isikoff said: “[Russert] could end up being the guy who puts Libby in jail.”