When things got a bit contentious this morning between conservative Jim Pinkerton and liberal Ellen Ratner on Fox & Friends Weekend's 'Long & the Short of It' segment, Pinkerton proposed a peace plan that other warring parties might well wish to adopt: "let NewsBusters.org sort this out."
The bone of contention was just what what it was that President Bush declassified - some would say leaked - and that Scooter Libby is in turn alleged to have provided to the press - presumably in the person of Judy Miller of the NY Times.
Ratner: "This was a Nixon bad-list kind of trick [presumably a reference to Nixon's 'enemies' list] to get . . . "
Host Kiran Chetry [back from maternity leave - and beautiful as ever, I might add]: "Why?"
Ratner: "Because it's ruining his wife's career" - the reference being to Joe Wilson's wife, former CIA employee Valerie Plame.
Pinkerton: "That has nothing to do with what the President is even alleged to have done. The President had nothing to do with Valerie Plame, and nobody says he did, including Libby. The President said 'I'm going to declassify certain information about the Iraqi nuclear program, the alleged Iraqi nuclear program.' The business between Libby and Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame is completely separate. The President had nothing to do with that."
Ratner: "I'm not sure. Jim and I have read the same articles and I'm not sure - he's making me look like I don't know what I'm talking about here - but I'm not sure that that is clear at all [that W didn't leak Plame's identity]."
That's when Pinkerton proposed his peace plan: "Ellen, we'll let NewsBusters.org sort this out."
Ellen, laughing: "alright." Since there is agreement between the parties as to the means of conflict resolution, we will undertake this unanticipated role to the best of our ability.
To resolve the question, let's refer to another one of this critic's favorite media haunts - the Today show. Now I would imagine even Ellen would agree that Today harbors no special fondness for President Bush. Yet here is what NBC White House reporter Kelly O'Donnell had to say on the matter during the first half-hour of the Today show of Friday, April 7th:
"Libby told the grand jury he was instructed by Vice-President Cheney to reveal certain secrets to New York Times reporter Judith Miller to explain the White House position on Saddam and WMDs. The president approved the disclosure which riled Democrats."
Continued O'Donnell: "Senior advisors argue it was in the national interest to defend their policies and say the President did not leak because he has the power to declassify any document. It's important to point out Libby and senior White House officials say that nowhere in these documents does it suggest that the president told Libby to release the name of Valerie Plame. That just didn't appear here. He was instructed, if this is true, to talk about specific ways to refute the stories that were published at the time. This doesn't tie the president to outing Valerie Plame but more about trying to buffer [bolster?] the case about the war."
To use an NFL replay metaphor: "Having reviewed the tape, Pinkerton's ruling on the field stands: no disclosure of Plame's name by the President."
We'll score this one Pinkerton: 1, Ratner: 0.
Finkelstein lives in Ithaca, NY, where he hosts the award-winning public-access TV show 'Right Angle'. Contact him at: email@example.com