National Public Radio released a poll recently with some rather startling results that the media are likely not going to share with the public. After months of focusing America’s attention on “scandals” surrounding Valerie Plame, I. Lewis Libby, Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, and Bill Frist, the nation’s mainstream press outlets must have been very disappointed to see the following numbers concerning the citizenry’s view of politics and ethics. The pollsters asked 800 Americans the following question:
"Now I would like to read you a list of issues and for each one please tell me whether you think George W. Bush or the Democratic Party would do a better job handling that particular issue. Improving ethics in Washington, D.C."
The results? 43 percent answered “George W. Bush,” while 41 percent said “the Democratic Party.”
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.
Jim Kelly, Managing Editor of Time magazine, appeared on Friday's Today show. The segment, airing just prior to 8AM, teased the identity of Time’s "Person of the Year" and indicated it might be a choice that would make liberals very happy. Kelly listed two finalists from the world of politics: President Bush and Valerie Plame. He noted that Bush "hasn’t had a very good year" and then added, "this would not be the first time we put the President on with a bad year. Lyndon Johnson was on in '67 with the war in Vietnam and bad opinion polls." Kelly appeared to be much more intrigued by Valerie Plame as a candidate: "Valerie Plame really interests me because without Valerie Plame there's no Patrick Fitzgerald. there's no Karl Rove in trouble."
Kelly recounted meeting Plame a few months ago, describing her as a "absolutely charming, really interesting person." Matt Lauer jumped in and asked, "But wouldn’t it be kind of different? I mean, she didn’t do anything on purpose to be put in that position. And shouldn’t someone have to initiate some kind of behavior or some kind of action?" Kelly noted this and replied, "Well, that’s fair enough. You could do Patrick Fitzgerald, I suppose."
Tired of public opinion polls? Well, an article in today’s New York Times might be an indication that Americans have seen enough polls in the past three months, and that a new strategy is necessary to inform them how to think. How does it work? Well, instead of releasing data that supposedly represents a statistical picture of the nation’s views on a subject, make the data significantly more real by putting names and faces to the numbers.
The article in question, entitled “Even Supporters Doubt President as Issues Pile Up,” effectively introduced this strategy in its first four paragraphs:
The Associated Press and United Press International are reporting that another Democratic hawk, Norm Dicks (D-Washington), has changed his position on the Iraq war. They are both quoting from and referencing a Seattle Times article first published about 16 hours ago entitled “Defense hawk Dicks says he now sees war as a mistake.” Yet, they are conveniently ignoring previous statements made by Dicks concerning the war that were also reported by the Seattle Times.
As reported by NewsBusters here, the media’s current fascination with Rep. John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) completely ignores the decade of the ’90s when the congressman was a leading pork-barrel spender. Yet, maybe more curious, this love affair is thoroughly dismissing some rather recent earmarking that made the papers before Mr. Murtha became the media’s favorite anti-war spokesman.
Not the least of these articles was a front-page, 2,200 word expose in the June 13, 2005 Los Angeles Times by Ken Silverstein and Richard Simon. The headline set the tone: “Lobbyist's Brother Guided House Bill; A family member's ties to special interests raise questions in the case of Democrat John Murtha.” The crux of the article is that Murtha’s brother is a senior partner in a company called KSA Consulting. Said consulting firm received $20.8 million in defense contracts in 2004 (Times link expired):
An Editor and Publisher article released late last night came to an aggressive conclusion from a front-page New York Times story by Todd Purdum. In E&P’s estimate, since Purdum reported that Vice President Dick Cheney has not specifically denied being the newly revealed source of Valerie Plame’s name to the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, this suggests that Purdum was “[wondering]” if Cheney could be the source:
Here’s a technical question for the folks at the CBS website Public Eye: Can you really call a feature "Outside Voices" and then feature a pile of former and present CBS employees? (They’ve featured former CBS man Leroy Sievers, and Craig Crawford, who’s presently paid by CBS to do spots on "The Early Show." How "outside" is that?) The latest feature comes from liberal-bias legend Eric Engberg, who sparked the entire lucrative Bernard Goldberg book career with his obnoxious attacks on Steve Forbes. The CBS website touts how we can all look forward with anticipation to "Expect to see more of him on Public Eye." CBS touts Engberg: "He was known as one of the most dogged and irreverent reporters in Washington, with one of the great b.s. detectors in the business." That’s CBS-speak for "bashed conservatives with unrestrained glee." See an old review of Engberg’s oeuvre here.
Bob Woodward's revelations, in a Wednesday Washington Post front page story, “Woodward Was Told of Plame More Than Two Years Ago,” seemingly undermined two premises of special prosecutor Peter Fitzgerald's case against Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Cheney's former Chief-of-Staff -- that he was the first to tell a reporter about Valerie Plame and that everyone involved remembers when they were told about Plame. But while the developments animated cable television all day, all the broadcast networks ignored it in the morning and in the evening both CBS and NBC, which led October 28 with multiple stories of Fitzgerald's indictments, spiked the story while ABC's World News Tonight devoted a piddling 31 seconds to Woodward's disclosures. The CBS Evening News found time for supposed dangers to kids of cold medicines and a look at "why the obesity crisis is far worse for African-Americans." The NBC Nightly News provided stories on claims the U.S. used “chemical weapons” in Iraq and on the effectiveness of diet pills. (Story rundown follows.)
At his October 28 press conference, Fitzgerald asserted, as shown tonight on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume: "He [Libby] was at the beginning of the chain of the phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the government to a reporter." In fact, the Post reported that “a senior administration official,” not Libby, told Woodward “about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed” and thus before Libby talked about it with a reporter, a disclosure which provides some support for Libby's contention that he heard about Plame from a journalist. The Post also noted how “the only Post reporter whom Woodward said he remembers telling” in 2003 about Plame's job, Walter Pincus, “does not recall the conversation taking place,” thus boosting Libby's contention that different people can have different recollections of old conversations.
What ABC squeezed in and how MSNBC's Chris Matthews saw nefarious motives (“a confidential source could be using rolling disclosure here for a political purpose” to help Libby) behind Woodward's source allowing him to talk, follows.
[UPDATE, 2:45pm EST Thursday: On Thursday morning, CBS held the development to a very brief news update item, NBC squeezed it into the very end of a session with Tim Russert while ABC actually touted it at the top of Good Morning America and provided a full story. See full rundown below.]
[UPDATE #2, Thursday 10:30pm EST: CBS and NBC caught up Thursday night with full stories -- by Gloria Borger on the CBS Evening News, by Andrea Mitchell on the NBC Nightly News.]
In an article entitled "Credibility lapse threatens job security for McClellan," PR Week reports that two years ago White House press secretary Scott McClellan "flatly denied from the podium that Karl Rove and Lewis 'Scooter' Libby were involved in the leaking of CIA officer Valerie Plame's name." But after special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation revealed some involvement, "the White House press corps has adopted a seriously aggressive posture in questioning McClellan's credibility."
McClellan's situation is so bad that "Washington oddsmakers are now keeping a close eye on McClellan."
One White House correspondent who wanted to remain anonymous "predicts McClellan, who replaced Ari Fleischer as press secretary in summer 2003, will soon be leaving his post. 'I'm expecting very big changes,' the correspondent says."
As Ted Koppel approaches his last Nightline, scheduled for next Tuesday, he's making a series of interview appearances in which he's been generally reticent about revealing too much about his political feelings. But he let a glimpse slip through Friday night on the Late Show with David Letterman, when asked about Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Koppel suggested that “if Karl Rove is involved in this, you know, do you naturally conclude at some point or another that the Vice President and possibly even the President may have known that this happened?" Letterman displayed the common public view of those uninformed about Joe Wilson's shenanigans as he offered this description of Libby's actions: "It suggests a level of pettiness heretofore unconsidered, doesn't it though?" Koppel then delivered a quip with serious undertones: "It suggests that a lot of people in the administration suffer from Irish Alzheimers -- you forget everything but the grudges."
On Monday's Hardball, Chris Matthews asked former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle if he "share(d) the public view that Dick Cheney knew what his guy was up to, Scooter Libby?"
This was not the first time Matthews referenced a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll that indicated more than half the respondents thought Vice President Dick Cheney was aware of Lewis Libby's actions in leaking the name of a CIA employee.
What Matthews has failed to mention, however, is the level of awareness of the participants in the poll. When asked: "How well do you, personally, understand this case: very well, somewhat well, not too well or not at all," only 22 percent declared they understood the case "very well." More than three out of ten stated they understood the case either not too well or not at all.
The Washington Post’s new ombudsman Deborah Howell, in only her second article in her new position, chose to defend journalists’ use of unnamed sources. Of late, this has become quite a hot-button issue, as an increasing number of articles from more and more media outlets seem to rely almost exclusively on anonymous suppliers of information, supposedly from within the White House.
In fact, in the past week, two of America’s leading magazines, Newsweek and TIME, published articles about turmoil inside the White House with bold predictions about changes to come within the administration. The latter just Monday claimed that deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, Treasury Secretary John Snow, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld are all about to leave the White House in a huge administration reshuffling.
Yet, in both of these reports, not one source was named. This makes the beginning of Howell’s article even more disturbing:
The Associated Press continued the media crusade against Scooter Libby continued today by clarifying the aims of his enemies, but revealed a typical omission instead. The cleverly-titled piece, “Democrats Don't Want Libby to Be Pardoned,” speaks volumes about its bias.
AP special correspondent David Espo began by quoting a letter from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to the White House:
"We also urge you to state publicly whether anyone in the White House -- including White House counsel Harriet Miers or Vice President Cheney -- has already discussed the possibility of a pardon with Mr. Libby."
Although the focus of the article is deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, TIME.com is reporting (hat tip to Drudge Report) that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Treasury Secretary John Snow will also be part of an imminent White House reorganization:
“Karl Rove's colleagues don't know exactly when it will happen, but they are already laying out the reasons they will give for the departure of the man President George W. Bush dubbed the architect. A Roveless Bush seemed unthinkable just a few months ago. But that has changed as the President's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff remains embroiled in the CIA leak scandal.”
“Several well-wired Administration officials predict that within a year, the President will have a new chief of staff and press secretary, probably a new Treasury Secretary and maybe a new Defense Secretary.”
On this morning’s “The Chris Matthews Show” on NBC, ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson said that Vice President Cheney certainly knew what his chief of staff I. Lewis Libby was doing when he told reporters about Valerie Plame working for the CIA. In addition, Newsweek’s Howard Fineman first compared President Bush to Tony Soprano of the HBO series “The Sopranos,” then called him “The Godfather,” referring to a part played by Marlon Brando wherein he was the mafia chief of America’s largest crime family named Vito Corleone.
On this weekend’s McLaughlin Group, veteran Newsweek Washington bureau reporter Eleanor Clift hailed the secret session of the Senate stunt as “a welcome show of spine that Democrats needed.” She proceeded to predict that “the Democrats are going to push” the contention that President Bush “abused his authority” in going to war and so “frankly, if the country, according to the polls, believes by a margin of 55 percent that President Bush misled us into war, the next logical step is impeachment and I think you're going to hear that word come up and if the Democrats ever capture either house of Congress there are going to be serious proceedings against this administration." Sounds like a motivation for journalists covering next year’s campaigns. (Clift had concluded her weekly Friday column on MSNBC.com: “On the day the Scooter Libby indictments were handed down, Conyers invoked the language of Watergate: 'What did the President and the Vice President know, and when did they know it?’ If the political tables turn, impeachment may not be so far-fetched after all.”)
Picking up on how fellow McLaughlin Group panelist Pat Buchanan described the administration’s use of pre-war intelligence, Clift charged: “'Hyped,’ 'cherry-picked,’ 'misled,’ whatever the words you use to me are criminal offenses when you see the suffering that has gone into this war and the cost of this war. It was a war of choice that was sold to American people on fear." Asked to predict if Karl Rove will resign, Clift said no before she condescendingly asserted that President Bush “can't tie his shoelaces without Karl Rove."
Video of Clift raising impeachment, in Real or Windows Media. (Fuller quotations of Clift follow as well as an excerpt from her posted column.)
Picking up on a Wednesday Washington Post story about how “the CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe,” on Inside Washington this weekend NPR’s Nina Totenberg declared her shame of her country: “We have now violated everything that we stand for. It is the first time in my life I have been ashamed of my country." Totenberg’s first thought about Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito: "We know he's very conservative." She also managed to squeeze in her near-weekly blast at tax cuts as she chided the Senate for how it “cut $35 billion from the poorest people in the country and food stamps and things like that and at the same time they're going to try to cut, boost tax, tax cuts for the wealthiest people in this country by $70 billion." In fact, the Senate proposal is only an effort to slow the rate of spending growth.
Appearing on the same show, Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas asserted that Bush’s decision to dump Harriet Miers “takes him from stand-up guy to tool of the right.” Thomas urged Bush to move left and drop Rove who “is the problem because Rove's entire engine is to polarize the country.” Thomas recommended: “If he's ever going to moderate, and if he's ever going to create any kind of national unity, Rove is going to have to go."
Video of Totenberg’s “ashamed” comment, in Real or Windows Media. [UPDATE, 9:25pm EST Saturday: Version of show with ads ends seconds before Totenberg's "ashamed" remark. Details below.]
Hoisted on their own petard? Washington journalists have formulated outrage over how “Scooter” Libby fed information to New York Times reporter Judy Miller which ended up on the paper's front page one Sunday, and then Vice President Cheney appeared on a Sunday talk TV interview show where he insidiously cited the story as proof of the potential nuclear threat from Saddam Hussein. On Friday night, the broadcast networks pulled the same maneuver as they treated as of great import how President Bush was “dogged,” at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina, with questions about Karl Rove and the CIA leak matter -- a self-fulfilling agenda since those questions were posed by reporters from the Washington press corps. In short, the media made its agenda the news and then marveled over it.
"The President also found himself shadowed by the controversy that has helped drive his popularity to record lows, the investigation into who leaked the identity of a CIA officer," ABC anchor Bob Woodruff announced on World News Tonight, which led, as did CBS and NBC, with stories which covered the violent protests as well Rove. ABC's Jake Tapper noted how “Bush came to this summit to talk about his free trade policy that he says would help ease poverty and create jobs in the region,” but pointed out how “questions about the CIA leak scandal, and the role of top aide Karl Rove, continue to dog him." CBS's Bob Schieffer echoed Tapper's terminology: "President Bush is in Argentina tonight, dogged by questions from back home.” John Roberts began his story, as if the media were observers and not participants: "President Bush was thankful for the chance to get out of Washington. But it didn't take long for Washington to catch up with him." NBC's Brian Williams stressed how Bush's “political troubles following him to Argentina from faraway Washington.” Kelly O'Donnell zeroed in on how Bush's “domestic woes came along, too” with “four of five” press conference “questions related to the political fallout from the CIA leak case.”
Fred Barnes, during the panel segment on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, scolded the reporters for posing questions “Senator Durbin or maybe Senator Schumer drafted them for them” since “they were Democratic 'talking points.'” He suggested: “Somebody should explain to members of the mainstream media, that they are not a part of the political opposition. They're supposed to be reporters. They don't have to echo Democrats." (Barnes in full, a bit more from ABC, CBS and NBC, plus the questions posed to Bush, follow.)
The Bush administration created a journalistic shield to stall investigation into the CIA leak case until after the 2004 election. So proclaims the Washington Post in a column by E. J. Dionne Jr. on Tuesday, November 1, 2005.
The writer claims that “As long as Bush faced the voters, the White House wanted Americans to think officials such as Libby, Karl Rove and vice president Chaney had nothing to do with the leak campaign to discredit its arch-critic on Iraq, the former ambassador Joseph Wilson.”
The writer claims that to assure a delay in the inquiry the administration had Libby state his information concerning Wilson’s wife, CIA employee Valerie Plame was provided by a number of reporters.
In a Thursday CBS Evening News story on how Karl Rove is a “distraction” in the West Wing, Gloria Borger cited how “a new CBS News poll shows that only 39 percent of Americans say that President Bush has more honesty and integrity than most people in public life, down eleven points since early last year.” But that number comes from the same poll, it turns out, that CBS News skewed by weighing it to undercount Republicans and over-count independents. My Wednesday NewsBusters item recounted how on that night's Evening News, over side-by-side head-shot videos on screen of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, with Bush's 35 percent approval, in the CBS News poll, below his image and Gallup's 27 percent finding beneath the shot of Nixon, John Roberts pointed out how “the only recent President lower at this point in their second term was Richard Nixon.”
Subsequently, NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard picked up on how “Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics posted an analysis of this poll’s methodology at his blog last evening. What his figures show is that CBS polled 46% more Democrats in its weighted sample than Republicans.” In short, CBS polled 259 Republicans, but weighted the sample to count for only 223, or 24 percent of the total; they surveyed 326 Democrats and held that number so they represented 35 percent of those polled; and independents moved from 351 respondents to a weighted 388 for 41 percent of the sample. Sheppard explained: “To put these numbers in proper perspective, according to the November 2004 exit polls, the nation’s current party affiliation is 37 percent Democrats, 37 percent Republicans, and 26 percent independents. As such, the polling agency involved in this result fell 36 percent short in sampling Republicans while over-sampling independents by 59 percent.” (More on Brit Hume's "Grapevine" item on the poll, weighting and the Borger story in full, follows.)
It's not every day a major al Qaeda figure with a huge bounty on his head gets captured, so when that happens, you'd expect it to lead the news. But apparently not at CBS, where the Early Show led instead with President Bush's latest poll numbers and the Lewis "Scooter" Libby court appearance today.
First, the teasers from the opening credits tipped off the readers to which story the Early Show found more important:
Hannah Storm, co-host: "The Vice President's former chief of staff, Lewis 'Scooter' Libby will be arraigned today in the CIA leak case. This as President Bush's approval rating hits an all-time low. We'll get the latest from the White House."
Harry Smith, co-host: "I'm Harry Smith. In the war on terror, one of America's most wanted men, a key al Qaeda leader with a $5 million bounty on his head has been captured in Pakistan. We'll have details."
The last moments on CNN for the network's most liberal anchor, Aaron Brown, were spent channeling Joe Wilson's talking points. (As noted by Noel Sheppard, CNN on Wednesday announced the departure of Brown and the end of NewsNight. The two-hour block starting at 10pm EST will now carry the Anderson Cooper 360 title while The Situation Room gets the 7pm EST hour.) Brown was last on CNN on Friday night wrapping up headlines at 11:01pm EDT before an airing of CNN Presents narrated by David Ensor, "Dead Wrong: Inside an Intelligence Meltdown." Just before that, at 10:54pm EDT, Brown conducted his last interview on CNN, a brief live session with Ensor, in which he pushed the spin of the radical anti-war left. He told Ensor that “people who are opposed to the war say that it wasn't just that the intelligence was wrong. It's that the intelligence was cooked." Ensor inconveniently admitted that “I also thought that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction,” before Brown followed up: “At some level, this is about Joe Wilson saying -- I'm not, I'm not saying he's right about this, I'm just saying what he said -- is that they took the country to war, when they knew the evidence was at least ambiguous and they never framed it in an ambiguous way."
Below are a few examples of Brown's bias from his CNN years -- he left ABC News in 2001 -- which the MRC's Rich Noyes and I quickly collected from NewsBusters and the MRC's archive. These quotes, some with video, include how Brown, after Katrina, pressed a black Congresswoman to agree that race was behind the delayed response in New Orleans; how Brown one night trumpeted a Republican who turned against the war and wondered if the administration has been “honest”; how he ridiculed the contention that John Kerry didn't earn his Purple Heart; how he insisted that while some “will see willful deception on the part of CBS” in the Memogate scandal, “smarter and more reasoned heads know better”; how he declared the “record unambiguous” that “John Kerry was a war hero”; how, without uttering a syllable about questions about Kerry's Vietnam record, on Memorial Day 2004 Brown delivered a panegyrical, event-by-event tribute to Kerry's heroic Vietnam service; how he boasted of “a permanent smirk” spurred by Rush Limbaugh's drug troubles; how he proposed that the White House “twisted or ignored” global warming science; and how Brown swooned over Jimmy Carter: “In many places, dusty and difficult places, James Earl Carter has brought hope and dispelled, as well as anyone alive these days, the vision of the ugly American."
Get the hook! Days after the nation's attention has turned elsewhere, the Today show is still trying to haul the bedraggled carcass of "Fitzmas" across the headlines.
This morning's show opened with the on-screen headline "Libby Arraignment." In the world of judicial proceedings, arraignments are a notorious bore. Defendant arrives, enters two-word plea, leaves. Hate to tell you, Katie, but this ain't OJ. Not even Scott Peterson. If Today insists on subjecting America to extended coverage of every procedural step in the Libby case, its ratings could go the way of Aaron Brown.
Chris Matthews was then brought in to conjecture darkly about Karl Rove, and predict that, ooh!, VP Cheney might have to testify at the Libby trial.
The morning's most revealing moment came when Katie turned the discussion to yesterday's revelations of secret CIA prisons to house top Al-Qaida officials. No sooner had the words "CIA prisons" left her mouth than Chris Matthews was caught shaking his head in disapproval. The camera quickly cut away, but it was too late. MSM-types like Matthews can't bear the thought of our government taking tough measures to deal with those who would murder us.
On his Countdown show Wednesday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann managed to cram four lines of liberal bias all into the first 14 minutes of his show: Questioning whether Bush's announcements of Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court and of an avian flu plan were politically timed to distract from administration problems, passing on Jimmy Carter's anti-Bush accusations without question, belittling Scott McClellan's defense of the administration's pre-war beliefs about WMD in Iraq, and asking softball questions to Ambassador Joseph Wilson without challenging his answers, except while referring to charges by "reactionary parrots" Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.
After opening the show theorizing that Bush's recent announcements may have been "designed to redirect today's headlines away from the CIA leak investigation and the sudden firestorm over pre-war intelligence," Olbermann then proceeded to dismiss McClellan, to promote Carter and Wilson, and to mock Limbaugh and Hannity.
Newsweek’s senior editor Jonathan Alter has an article that was just posted at MSNBC.com wherein he stated that Karl Rove could be guilty of violating Executive Order 12958 concerning the release of classified national security information, and, as a result, could lose his security clearance. As Alter sees it:
“According to last week’s indictment of Scooter Libby, a person identified as “Official A” held conversations with reporters about Plame’s identity as an undercover CIA operative, information that was classified. News accounts subsequently confirmed that that official was Rove. Under Executive Order 12958, signed by President Clinton in 1995, such a disclosure is grounds for, at a minimum, losing access to classified information.”
Conservatives are rolling their eyes watching the political left’s outrage over the Valerie Plame identity controversy, wondering when it was exactly that liberals suddenly became the super patriots defending the virtues of the CIA. For a half-century the American political left has done everything in its power to undermine the national security of this country. Now we are to believe, as they wring their hands in agony and outrage – outrage, I say! – over Ms. Plame’s outing, that they…care? This goes beyond rank hypocrisy. It is intellectual dishonesty.
Let’s visit the left’s record on national security matters. History is not kind. Where was the left when the Rosenbergs, communists both, fed our nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union? Both were deep-fried for the treason they’d committed. Liberals tut-tutted then and tut-tut now, and don’t tell me there aren’t hardened leftists who favored giving nuclear weapons to the Soviets to thwart what they considered America’s imperial ambitions. What of Alger Hiss, another Soviet spy who also committed treason against his country? To this day he remains a darling of the political left. Up until the moment he died he was the left’s poster child for American national security oppression.
The richest part of Brent Bozell's column today on liberal media hypocrisy is how the New York Times actually campaigned against the law at the center of its Plame crusade as a menace that should be wiped from the books:
Just read the editorial page of the New York Times for March 22, 1982. Judith Miller’s employers declared that “an angry, flag-waving Congress is making it a crime to print names the Government doesn't want published, even when they are derived from public sources. Last week the Senate refused to be outdone by the House in making the Intelligence Identities Protection Act offensive to the Bill of Rights.”
There was a lot of media excitement today surrounding the rare “closed session” called in the Senate by Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). In fact, a Google news search identified 684 articles and postings on the subject. For example, Reuters reported:
“Democrats forced the Senate into a rare closed session on Tuesday to protest what they decried as the Republican-led body's inattention to intelligence failures on Iraq and the leak of a CIA operative's identity.
“Invoking a little used rule, Democrats temporarily shut down television cameras in the chamber, cleared galleries of reporters, tourists and other onlookers, forced removal of staff members and recording devices and stopped work on legislation.”
MSNBC, with the assistance of the Associated Press, even reported this event as a huge win for the Democrats, with a sub-headline, “Following unusual closed Senate session, Democrats claim victory.”
Yet, from what I can tell, there was little if any discussion by most media outlets including Reuters, MSNBC, and AP concerning how rarely this rule is invoked, and under what circumstances in American history it has been employed.
[Judith Miller] knew early on that Libby was using the media to punish former U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV for exposing President Bush's false claim that Iraq sought nuclear material from the African nation of Niger.
The words I want to examine here are "punish" and "false claim". If there was information given to a reporter, it wasn't to punish Joe Wilson, it was to expose him. By the time he went to Niger, he had a long history of not just being against the war, but being against a regime change in Iraq. This was no impartial panel to examine evidence. This was one guy going over there without even being paid, lying about who sent him [Cheney], to [his words mind you] "drink sweet tea and meet with people." Did he look at spy sat imagery? No. Did he examine hardware with a Geiger counter? No. Did he meet with CIA HUMINT informants? No. He simply asked a dozen people if they were selling yellowcake to Saddam. What would you answer if the U.S. asked you that?
And in the end, Joe Wilson didn't even say it definitely didn't happen. His finding was "that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place." Do you read that caveat in newspaper articles?
Meanwhile, the IAEA, an organization that does more than ask people questions, determined that yellowcake was found in scrap metal originating from Iraq. What does Joe Wilson have to say about that?
The report indicated that there was enough intelligence to make a “well-founded” judgment that Saddam Hussein was seeking, perhaps as late as 2002, to obtain uranium illegally from Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo (6.4 para. 499). In particular, referring to a 1999 visit of Iraqi officials to Niger, the report states (6.4 para. 503): “The British government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger's exports, the intelligence was credible.”
Back to the claim that Bush made a "false claim". Given that we have intelligence and physical evidence that contradict Joe Wilson, as well as a solid foundation for Joe Wilson's motive, what is this "false claim" Bush made based on?