Weekend Watchdog Wrap-up

Bill Scher

On Friday, we introduced “Weekend Watchdogs,” raising the questions the Sunday talk show hosts should ask their scheduled guests. So, how’d they do?

On NBC’s Meet The Press, host Tim Russert did not ask Sen. Orrin Hatch how he could say there is “no evidence” of interference of prosecutors’ cases by the Justice Department, only “conjecture on the part of Democrats,” when the prosecutors themselves have made the allegations.

Instead, Russert asked Senate Judiciary Chair Pat Leahy, “Let me ask about a comment that Senator Hatch made. Do you have any shred of evidence that any case was interfered with by the dismissal of these eight U.S. attorneys?”

And Leahy gave an overly politic response, “this is why we are having the interviews we’re having [with Justice Department officials] the next two weeks before the attorney general comes up [to testify on April 17.]”

(A Talking Points Memo reader expressed disappointment that Hatch’s empty claim went “unchallenged.”)

Russert also did not directly ask why Leahy is waiting to issue subpoenas to White House officials.

But he did ask “what if Mr. Rove refuses to come before your committee?” Leahy simply said, “let’s see if that happens,” indicating that perhaps he has hopes for further negotiation.

Meanwhile over on CBS’ Face The Nation (PDF file), Sens. Chuck Schumer and Arlen Specter floated the possibility of testimony offered in private, but with a transcript.

White House spokesman Dan Bartlett, appearing right after them, didn’t reject it outright. However, he said “what we have in writing from them is far different than that type of proposal” and “we haven’t heard from the chairman [Pat Leahy].”

Finally, Bartlett was not asked about White House complaints of “pork” in the Iraq war supplemental funding bill, despite its history of approving funding bills with non-germane spending.

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