Vieira: 'Beginning of the End' for VP Cheney?

Meredith Vieira was in a light-hearted mood at the top of this morning's "Today," joshing with substitute co-host Ann Curry about the estrogen on the set and kiddingly offering to leave her husband for the winner of the Mega Millions lottery. But we shouldn't have let the idle chatter fool us. When it came to discussing the repercussions of the Libby conviction, Meredith's leopard-skin blouse should have been a clue -- because she pounced.

Discussing the trial with NBC host-turned-star-prosecution-witness Tim Russert [file photo], Meredith displayed and read this quotation from Republican strategist [and former Dole campaign manager] Scott Reed that appeared in a New York Times article this morning:

“The trial has been death by 1,000 cuts for Cheney. It’s hurt him inside the administration. It’s hurt him with the Congress, and it’s hurt his stature around the world because it has shown a lot of the inner workings of the White House. It peeled the bark right off the way they operate.”

Vieira then asked Russert: "Is this the beginning of the end, do you believe, for the Vice President?"

Russert did nothing to deflect the notion: "The president is on record saying that if anyone leaked information like this, they would be dealt with. It appears that Mr. Cheney gave Mr. Libby the information. As Kelly [O'Donnell] reported, Mr. Armitage and Mr. Rove shared information with reporters. And so the president now has to come to grips with that, and recognize that having made a committment to deal with that, how will he do that?

Sounds like Russert calling for the head of the Vice-President. The Vice-President is of course a separately-elected constitutional officer. He does not serve at the pleasure of the president. Leaving that aside, and even by Tim's terms, neither Cheney nor Libby could have "leaked" Plame's identity since it was, thanks to Richard Armitage, already out there. But that didn't stop Russert, with a little helpful prodding from Vieira, from none-too-subtly suggesting that Cheney should go.

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Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.