Newsweek's Howard Fineman Greenlights Democratic Attack Ads

During live coverage of the Lewis Libby verdict on MSNBC, Newsweek's Howard Fineman greenlit this potential line of attack for the Democrats: "If you're the Democrats you go up immediately with ads. You talk about lying. You use the word, 'lying' with reference to this administration and you can do it because there is a conviction in a court of law." Fineman also tied the mistreatment of wounded veterans at Walter Reed Hospital to the Libby verdict as he claimed: "The war in Iraq has now been bracketed on both sides politically. The Walter Reed story is about the human consequences of the war, the Scooter Libby trial was about how we got into the war and whether somebody was lying..."

The following exchange occurred at 12:31pm on MSNBC:

Chris Jansing: "And it's always a complicated case in a situation like this because there are legal implications here. There are legal considerations but also very important political considerations that are going into all of what happens next. Howard Fineman with Newsweek is back on the phone with us. I want to get your reaction, Howard, and what would you expect to hear at the White House briefing, which was supposed to start a couple of minutes ago."

Howard Fineman: "Well they, they have got some 'splaining to do here. I think this is a stunning verdict and politically potent because as I was saying before the verdict was rendered, the war in Iraq has now been bracketed on both sides politically. The Walter Reed story is about the human consequences of the war, the Scooter Libby trial was about how we got into the war and whether somebody was lying not only in talking to the authorities but also about the evidence that got us to the war to begin with. And as Chris Matthews was saying earlier the heat, politically, now is really on Vice President Dick Cheney. He was the master salesman of the war and Scooter Libby was his field representative, his man in the field selling it in the media. Why was Dick Cheney so vehement, so frantic about questions being raised on the Niger issue. The question of how those 16 famous words got into President Bush's State of the Union speech. If you're the Democrats you go up immediately with ads. You talk about lying. You use the word, 'lying' with reference to this administration and you can do it because there is a conviction in a court of law. I think it's enormously powerful politically, as I say, to bracket the war both its beginning and its end and that's where, where the conversation is gonna head now."

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.