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.
With the perjury trial of Lewis “Scooter” Libby hanging in the balance, the “Meet the Press” inquisitor—the man who puts all those quotations up on the screen and presses politicians about contradictions and evasions—found himself on the receiving end of a tough cross-examination.