Jurors on the Libby trial are learning many things about the inner workings of unofficial Washington. Just today they were told that “There are a lot of bureaus in Washington” (from Judy Miller’s testimony on intial confusion about where Valerie Plame worked) and that the Chevy Chase Club doesn’t allow cell phones or Blackberries on its grounds (from Matt Cooper’s increasingly detailed narrative).
But today the Washington insiders at the trial learned something too: that Tim Russert hates Chris Matthews. It was the talk of the elevator as soon as the court recessed for lunch. This nugget of information will not play an especially large role in the trial, but I suspect it will make cocktail conversation afterwards a little more interesting, and of course, it shines a bit more unflattering light onto the deal-making and string-pulling that go into producing what some still quaintly call “news.”
Russert’s presumed distaste for Matthews (so difficult not to speculate on its cause! Is it stylistic? Does someone hog the newsroom donuts?) came up in reference to the prosecution presenting notes taken by Libby during a conversation with former vice president aide Mary Matalin. She “has a colorful way of speaking” (something the press corps does know), and in the course of advising Libby on how to deal with the “Wilson issue,” and in particular Matthew’s attacks on the vice president, she advised Libby to call Russert to complain and she told Libby that Russert would have an especially sympathetic ear: “Call Tim. He hates Chris – he needs to know it all.”
She also gave a talking point: “Wilson is a snake.”
The prosecution wanted the jury to see this note, saying it went to “Libby’s state of mind.” The defense, wisely, choose to argue the note was prejudicial. “If they believe that Mr. Libby agreed with what Ms. Matalin was saying, they might think he’d do anything to get back at Wilson.”
UPDATE: Just to be clear, not everyone hates Chris Matthews (though apparently many commenters do); I just think there’s something kind of awesome about “Everybody Hates Chris” being a show on the CW network. I am personally a long-time, committed fan of Matthew’s eccentric approach to political chat, n.b.: “ALL PANTS ARE MADE IN CHINA NOW!”