Tim Russert is NBC News’ Washington bureau chief and host of Meet the Press. He regularly offers MSNBC.com’s readers his insight and analysis into questions about politics past, present and future.
MSNBC: Tim, after a few days to think over and report on the Mark Felt/Deep Throat/Watergate story, why do you think he really decided to do it now?
Russert: There are several reasons.
I think his family convinced him and themselves that before he dies they wanted an opportunity to be in the sun. They think what he did was a good thing and they wanted to take full credit for it.
I do think they also think they can make some money. They’ve been very open about that. They can pay off tuition bills. Mr. Felt said that the other day. I don’t think there’s any other dark secret behind it.
MSNBC: Bob Woodward is saying that his impression is that Mark Felt has really no memory left of any detail that might contribute to writing any book about this.
Russert: That may be the case. Woodward last met with him in 1999 and he’s had conversations with the family. The thing we don’t know is does he have any diaries, does he have any notes – does he have anything else that can help him draw out the story a little bit. We’ll be finding that out as soon as they submit any kind of proposals for a book, we’ll know what’s in it.
MSNBC: Are you surprised by the reaction of those like Pat Buchanan and Charles Colson who are really bitter in their assessment of him as a crook and a traitor.
Russert: Oh, yeah. They’ve been harsh, harsh, harsh. It was almost like we were fighting over Richard Nixon again. I was surprised by the bitterness.
I think it is a legitimate discussion to have as to what is the role of a public official when you see wrong doing. Do you resign, do you go to a grand jury, do you tell a superior? That’s a legitimate discussion. But some of the words they used to describe him, I think were a little harsh.
MSNBC: Who will we see Sunday on Meet the Press?
Russert: Ironically, in 1999, Woodard and Bernstein were on Meet the Press, commemorating the 25 anniversary of Watergate and I asked them whether Mark Felt was Deep Throat. We’re going to show you that tape, which is quite interesting.
Then, Ken Mehlman, the Chairman of the Republican Party is going to be on. I had Howard Dean on two weeks ago. This is equal time for the Republicans. We’ll talk about the state of the Bush second term.
So, Deep Throat and Bush second term on Meet the Press Sunday – at a special early time, because of NBC coverage of the French Open, so get up early.
( Click here to find the special broadcast time for Meet the Press, this Sunday, June 5th, in your city.)