The timing makes it almost certain that this was just a computer or operator error, since it happened dead on 30 minutes after the hour, for a duration of 30 seconds, but… Maureen Dowd’s quite unflattering comments vis-a-vis President George W. Bush on NBC NEWS’ Meet The Press were not aired, at least on the West Coast, and were instead interrupted by the first half-minute of an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent.
The reason that I was originally posting this excerpt was because of what is in italics, which was hilarious, and was indeed broadcast.
Here is the exchange in context, with the missing unaired comments in bold:
MR. RUSSERT: Our MEET THE PRESS roundtable: William Safire, Maureen Dowd and Tom Friedman all from The New York Times altogether, after this station break.
MR. RUSSERT: And we are back. Welcome, all.
MR. WILILAM SAFIRE: Morning.
MR. RUSSERT: [He faces the three New York Times columnists] Remember when Bob Dole saw three former American presidents, he said, “‘Hear No Evil’, ‘See No Evil’. and ‘Evil'”? [General Laughter] Take your choice. Mr. Safire, let me start with you. Busy week for the president, went to Europe, met with Russian President Putin. Give him a grade.
MR. SAFIRE: I was disheartened and dismayed by the way he went eyeball to eyeball with President Putin and Bush blinked. Here is a president who has been talking eloquently about extending freedom and fighting for democracy around the world in his inaugural address and the State of the Union. And as soon as he comes up against the man who is doing more to stop the extension of freedom than anybody else, he wimps out all of a sudden. I think this was as big a blunder as his father made when he gave the chicken Kiev speech, saying, “Stay within the Soviet Union.”
I think most accommodationists and certainly everybody in the State Department is delighted with the way Bush poured praise on Putin, and I think it’s terrible. This was the time to stand up to him and say, “Hey, you’re providing arms to Syria. You just sent 100,000 Kalashnikovs to Castro’s friend who runs Venezuela. You’re helping Iran develop nuclear bombs, and you ought to stop it. And worst of all, you’re rolling back democracy in Russia.” And so what does he do? He talks about, ‘My friend, Vladimir’.
MR. RUSSERT: Maureen Dowd, Mr. Putin responded by talking about the Electoral College, suggesting to President Bush that “The majority of American voters in 2000 may have voted for the Democratic candidate, but you became president,” trying to have some kind of comparability between American democracy and so-called Russian democracy?
MS. MAUREEN DOWD: Well, the subtext of the press conference was fascinating, because when Putin said that, what he was really saying was, “Look, your daddy’s friends on the Supreme Court made you president, and the guy who won the most votes didn’t, so don’t tell me I shouldn’t be appointing governors instead of letting them be elected.” And on this trip, Bush learned the old Murray Kempton thing about “the evil of lesser evilism,” because I was with him in 2002 when he met Putin, and he was so happy to get to Putin after being condescended to by Chirac and Schroeder, and he thought he had a soul mate and a pal, and he called him–“Puty-Put” and “Ostrich Legs” were his nicknames for Putin. And he thought that the former evil empire would help him with the axis of evil and the evildoers, but, you know, now the former evil empire is looking more evil.
MR. RUSSERT: Tom Friedman, but it is a delicate balance, because we do need President Putin’s help on the war on terrorism. We need his help if, in fact, we can turn Iran around. We need his help with North Korea. How do you handle that balance?
MR. TOM FRIEDMAN: Well, it is a delicate balance, Tim. I think the criticism one could level at the administration on this issue is, given the slack that the president has cut Putin now for four years, basically, doesn’t seem he has a lot to show for it. Iran is that much closer to a nuclear weapon. We still have the whole issue of the disposal of Russian–Soviet-era nuclear weapons. They’re continuing to sell arms to Russia. I think the question that the administration really has to answer is: How has this kind of conciliatory approach actually delivered for American interests? It’s not clear to me it has.
Full Transcript from Meet the Press
February 27, 2005