Hardball: When Chris is Away, Norah Will Play

Anyone who thought Hardball with Chris Matthews couldn't get any more antagonistic to the Bush administration should have watched the show with Norah O'Donnell substituting tonight. Not that Matthews is exactly Mr. Fair & Balanced, but Norah didn't even attempt to disguise her disdain for all things Republican.

For her first panel, the two lawyers she chose to discuss the Plame matter fell over each other in agreeing that it was absolutely inescapable that Karl Rove would be indicted. Even that wasn't quite enough to satisfy Norah, as she avidly inquired as to the prospects that VP Cheney would face prosecution.

Norah took a parting shot suggesting that revelations by DC lobbyist Jack Abramoff could lead to congressional indictments, mentioning only Republicans DeLay and Ney as possible targets despite Abramoff's ecumenism in doling out donations across party lines.

Next up was the egregious Craig Crawford and uber-trendy Richard Wolffe of Newsweek, to wring their hands over the NSA surveillance and related matters. Crawford archly asserted that whereas President Bush clams to be a strict constructionist regarding the Supreme Court, when it comes to his own powers he interprets things very broadly. Wolffe claimed to detect a growing sentiment of concern among the broad public regarding the surveillance, and was beside himself in imagining how outraged the reaction would have been had Clinton dared engage in such tactics. [Then again, perhaps if he had, 9/11 might have been thwarted].

Norah's next guest was a solo: esrtwhile LBJ aide Doris Kearns Goodwin. All one needs to know about Goodwin's viewpoint on Iraq was that within the first minute or so, she had at least twice referred to the war there as the war "in Vietnam."

If one looks beyond her smiling and attractive mien, one sees that Norah O'Donnell is among the most fiercely partisan of the DC press corps. Hardball doesn't miss an anti-Bush beat when she fills in for Matthews.

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.