Buzz-Kill: Well-Timed Spying Charges Let MSM Rain on Iraqi Election Parade

It was the MSM's worst nightmare-in-the-making: the prospect of a day, maybe more, of nothing but jubilant Iraqis waving those damn purple fingers, some of them no doubt soppily shouting "thank you, Mr. Bush!" Ugh. Can't let that happen.

Don't worry, MSM: the New York Times, with a nice assist from the Washington Post, have got your back.

The Times has admitted that, in response to a administration request, it had been holding the story on alleged US spying on Al-Qaida-linked phone numbers in the US for a year. From the Times article:

"After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting." [emphasis added]

So when do the Times and the WaPo choose to break it? Why, today of course, just in time to rain on the Iraqi election good-news parade.

There was Condi Rice on the Today show. Katie Couric could doubtlessly have kissed the Times and Post reporters. Instead of having to lead with a question acknowledging the undeniable success of yesterday's elections, Katie was able to open with this shot:

"Let me ask you first of all about that NY Times story. Let me read the first paragraph so that people listening will understand this."

Couric proceeded to do just that, speaking of domestic spying without court-approved warrants normally required, then asked:

"Why did the Bush administration feel this step was necessary?"

Rice declined to comment about intelligence matters, particularly on newspaper stories about intelligence matters, but did observe that the president has always lived within the law while doing everything he can to protect the American people.

It got even better for Katie. In her follow-up, Couric quoted from the Post story which in turn quoted a George Washington University prof accusing Bush of violating criminal law.

Wow! On what was shaping up to be the darkest of days for Katie & Co., here she had been handed a hook to accuse President Bush of criminality. Allah Akhbar!

When Katie finally got around to the Iraqi elections, she cast them, in keeping with Today's theme-'o-the-week, largely in terms of their justifying US withdrawal.

"In your opinion does yesterday's election set stage for a more independent Iraq that will allow US troops to come home soon?"

When Rice turned attention to the great success of the election and in particular to the strong participation by previously balky Sunnis, Katie drew the discussion back to withdrawal:

"What if this new coalition government asks for US troops to leave Iraq, for a timetable?"

Condi didn't see that happening anytime soon:

"All of the evidence is that most of the leaders in Iraq understand the importance of a coalition presence to help them against the terrorist threat they face. They don't want to leave their people undefended."

You know, if our military was capable of pulling off strikes with the same kind of coordinated precision demonstrated by the MSM this morning, maybe we could be out of Iraq by Easter!

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.