Evening Newscasts on Plame's Testimony: 'Impeach Bush' and No Mention of Armitage

The three broadcast network evening newscasts were similar Friday night in featuring full stories on Valerie Plame's testimony before the House Government Reform Committee, including video of Plame with a woman behind her wearing a pink “Impeach Bush” T-shirt -- ABC even caught a moment when the woman was making the “shame” sign with her fingers (see screen shot to right) -- and not mentioning Richard Armitage, the former Deputy Secretary of State who was the source for columnist Robert Novak's reporting of her name. CBS's Gloria Borger, remarkably, concluded her report by listing every big name involved but Armitage's: “When asked whether she'd gotten an apology from the President, the Vice President, Karl Rove or Scooter Libby, she said no.”

But there were differences. Only NBC Nightly News led with Plame as fill-in anchor Campbell Brown announced: “The CIA operative at the heart of a scandal tells Congress the Bush administration blew her cover and wrecked her career.” NBC's Chip Reid uniquely highlighted how Plame contributed to Al Gore's 2000 campaign and that she conceded “I am a Democrat.” While CBS's Borger concluded with a missing apology to her, ABC's David Kerley ended his piece by noting how Plame is taking advantage of her situation: “While Plame may have lost the undercover job she loved, the blown cover is allowing her to find a new career. She signed a book deal for more than $1 million. And oh, about all those ingredients for a Hollywood movie, there will be one of those, as well.”

ABC's World News opened with the impact of the storm in theNortheast followed by how more troops are being added to the “surge” in Iraq, then arrived at Plame.

Katie Couric led the March 16 CBS Evening News with how Alberto Gonzales is “on his way out. Sources tell CBS News it's just a matter of time now before the Attorney General gets fired.” She then ran an interview with ousted U.S. attorney of New Mexico, David Iglesias, before going to Borger's report on Plame. Couric teased the Plame story:
“Also tonight, former CIA operative Valerie Plame goes public. She says the Bush administration blew her cover and ruined her career.”
Couric set up Borger's subsequent report:
“Meanwhile, we've been hearing about her for years, today we heard from her. Valerie Plame, the former CIA operative, testified on Capitol Hill. She accused the Bush administration of ruining her CIA career by leaking her name for political reasons.”
Campbell Brown led the NBC Nightly News:
“Good evening. She has been the object of fascination, the woman in the middle of a Washington scandal and Valerie Plame Wilson, the outed CIA officer, has never before spoken so extensively about what has happened to her until today. She arrived on Capitol Hill surrounded by photographers to tell Members of Congress that her career as a CIA undercover officer was brought to an end when Bush administration officials revealed her true identity.”
Reporter Chip Reid uniquely highlighted this exchange:
Valerie Plame: “My exposure arose from purely political motives.”

Chip Reid: “But some Republicans today questioned her motives. Some have noted her husband campaigned for John Kerry and that she contributed to Al Gore.”

Congressman Lynn Westmoreland, R-Georgia: “Would you say you're a Democrat or a Republican?”

Plame: “Yes, Congressman, I am a Democrat.”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center