If I Was Tim Russert

I might be a minority of one here but I don’t believe that Tim Russert “grilled” Rudy on Meet the Press. I think that Russert missed giving Rudy the tough follow-up questions that could have really put Rudy on the spot.

For example, Russert asked Rudy a few tough questions about one of foreign policy advisors Norman Podhoretz including this exchange –

MR. RUSSERT: Podhoretz also wrote this, this week. “I entertain an even darker suspicion. It is that the intelligence community, which has for some years now been leaking material calculated to undermine George W. Bush, is doing it again. This time the purpose is to head off the possibility that the president may order air strikes on the Iranian nuclear installations.” Do you think the intelligence community is intentionally putting this information out?

MR. GIULIANI: I have, I have no reason to believe that. The only thing I can do is interpret the language at face value. It’s a—it is a much more complex interpretation when you read it than either side presents it because one side presents it very much in one direction, the other side can present it in another direction. It’s a pretty balanced presentation that I think adds up to we better, long-term, be very, very cautious about Iran and we better keep the pressure on; otherwise, even they are only moderately confident that Iran has not gone back to the program of moving toward, you know, nuclear weapons.

If I were Russert, I would then have asked –

“One of your advisors on foreign policy made very serious charges about members of the intelligence community, basically calling them traitors. Do you think he should apologize for that? Will you ask him to do so?”

Later on Russert asked Rudy asked about Rudy’s law firm representing Hugo Chavez and Rudy said –

MR. GIULIANI: Law firm did—never represented Hugo Chavez. They represented—wait, wait—they represented an American company, Citgo, in Texas, that employs maybe 100,000 people, 120,000 people, that sells gasoline, needs to comply with the law. They represented them just in Texas, and then they stopped representing them. And they—not a direct representation of Hugo Chavez. That’s a very unfair way to say it. This is an American company that, when you count out all the gas stations and everything else, the 125,000 Americans...

Russert should have said –

“Your firm represented Citgo. They are owned by the government of Venezuela. They are not an American firm.”

They then discussed whether Rudy would release a list of his firm’s clients –

MR. GIULIANI: Well, first of all, I, I, I couldn’t do that. I mean, I couldn’t put out a list of all my clients. There are confidentiality agreements that surround the relationship that businesses have with law firms, in particular, in some cases with security firms. So I can’t do that. All, all I can tell you is the following: I can tell you that every client of GP of any significance while I was there, while I was involved in the day-to-day, day-to-day operations of it has been discussed, significant number of the Bracewell, Giuliani clients have been discussed, and the reality is that none of them amount to anything other than ethical, lawful, decent work done by both companies, sometimes of the highest standards, always ethical and decent. And none of them involve any kind of conflict of any kind. And as we go along, we’ll explore more of it.

MR. RUSSERT: You won’t sever your ties, your financial ties with your company.

MR. GIULIANI: Well, I’m an owner. I mean, I’ve...

If I were Russert, I’d have said –

“You are asking us to take your word that every client of significance has been disclosed. You could release information on the clients for which there are no confidentially agreements, will you? And you could sell your ownership share, would you consider doing so?

Then there was –

MR. RUSSERT: You ran for mayor, you released your tax returns. Would you do that?

MR. GIULIANI: At the right time. At the right time we’ll consider doing that.

Russert could have then said –

“Which is it, you will release them or you’ll consider releasing them?”

Finally, there were the Judi Nathan questions, where Russert completely dropped the ball.

MR. RUSSERT: But this, this was when, this was when no one knew she was your girlfriend. This was before September 11th, 2001. There were—no one knew who she was.

MR. GIULIANI: They were—well, first of all, that isn’t correct. Secondly, these were all based upon threat assessments made by the New York City Police Department and all based on their analysis of what was necessary to protect her life, my life, other people’s lives.

MR. RUSSERT: Before it was known that you were even dating her, there were threats against her?

MR. GIULIANI: The threats were—the threats were after. The threats were after. MR. RUSSERT: But this protection was...

MR. GIULIANI: No it wasn’t. You got it all—no, it wasn’t.

Russert should have said –

“Last Friday’s New York Daily News reported that the police bodyguards for Judith Nathan started before May of 2000 when your affair became public. You refused to respond to this question earlier, are you now denying that is true.” And when you say the decision to give her bodyguards was made by the Police Department, does that mean your former driver, Bernie Kerik, made the decision?”