In the past couple of days, you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting an hysterical press report concerning an excerpt of former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's soon to be released book seemingly implicating President George W. Bush in lying about the Valerie Plame Wilson affair.
Those guilty of premature emasculation will likely be distraught over statements by the book's publisher indicating the media overreacted to the 121 words posted at Public Affairs Books.com Monday which were part of a marketing campaign to rollout upcoming spring printings.
As reported Wednesday by MSNBC.com, which is ironically one of the cable networks that totally jumped on this story as evidence of administration wrong-doing (emphasis added, video of actual MSNBC segment on this issue available here):
Former White House spokesman Scott McClellan does not believe President Bush lied to him about the role of White House aides I. Lewis Scooter Libby or Karl Rove in the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity, according to McClellan's publisher.
Peter Osnos, the founder and editor-in-chief of Public Affairs Books, which is publishing McClellan's book in April, tells NBC from his Connecticut home that McCLellan [sic], "Did not intend to suggest Bush lied to him."
Osnos says when McClellan went before the White House press corps in 2003 to publicly exonerate Libby and Rove, the problem was that his statement was not true. Osnos said the president told McClellan what "he thought to be the case." But, he says, McClellan believes, "the president didn't know it was not true."
Osnos says the quotes which appeared on the Public Affairs Books website were part of the roll out of the book catalogues for the spring printings. And he says McClellan had not finished the manuscript for the memoir yet and was working under deadline to have the book completed for the April publishing.
Hmmm. So, the book isn't even done yet, and Bush haters throughout the media have already eviscerated the President over something that hasn't even been put in print by the former press secretary.
In the past few days since these 121 words were posted, there have been 126 press reports on the subject. CNN has led the way with sixteen, followed by MSNBC with six, NBC with three, and one each from NBC and CBS.
Not surprisingly, Chris Matthews has been all over this story actually beginning his last two installments of "Hardball" addressing the not yet written book. In particular, as reported by the American Thinker Wednesday:
[U]nless you managed to sit through last night's Hardball, you missed the spectacle of a completely euphoric Chris Matthews encouraging virtually every guest to join in his utterly fantastic "smoking gun" spin.
Gloated Matthews at the intro: "Was Bush himself part of the CIA leak cover-up? Let`s play HARDBALL."
The Thinker pointed out that every guest brought on Tuesday's "Hardball," including Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee - who certainly had been invited to discuss his campaign - and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin - who was there to address how Election 2008 is panning out - was asked about the McClellan revelations.
This culminated in a roundtable discussion with Matthews actually stating the following:
The argument will be, we now know that your guy was behind the leak, cover-up, your guy, the president -- this will be the argument from the other side, your guy was involved in this whole Scooter Libby thing, he got Scooter Libby to fall on his sword like a good soldier, he leaked it, Karl leaked it, they all leaked it, Ari leaked it, Armitage leaked it.
And when they got caught in a lie, in perjury, in obstruction of justice, the president said, oh, I will deal with this matter, I`m commuting the sentence. So the silence goes on. The vice president didn`t have to testify. Scooter didn`t have to testify under oath. And they commute the sentence. It looks to me like they closed the circle on the truth.
Actually, Chris, it seems that you and your ilk are the ones that have closed such a circle. Did it ever occur to any of these frothing Bush-haters to contact the publisher and get his opinion before they went on the attack?
Also, why is it that during this media firestorm, a pivotal statement made by former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage - the person the press seems to conveniently forget was the official who leaked Plame's name to conservative writer Robert Novak! - has gone totally ignored?
As reported by NewsBuster Brad Wilmouth on November 11 (emphasis added):
On Sunday's "Late Edition," CNN host Wolf Blitzer asked former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage about his role in accidentally leaking that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA, an event often ignored as most media coverage has focused on Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. While Armitage agreed with Plame's contention that what he did was "very foolish," he also argued that he believed her status not to be covert because he had "never seen, ever, in 43 years of having a security clearance, a covert operative's name in a memo." When asked by Blitzer if he had assumed that she was "just an analyst" at the CIA, Armitage responded: "That's what it, not only assumed it, that's what the message said, and she was publicly chairing, chairing a meeting."
Here's the relevant transcript from that interview:
BLITZER: Normally, in memos, they don't name covert operatives?
ARMITAGE: I've never seen one named.
BLITZER: And so you assumed she was, what, just an analyst over at the CIA?
ARMITAGE: That's what it, not only assumed it, that's what the message said, and she was publicly chairing, chairing a meeting.
Did you see this segment, Mr. Matthews? Or is it totally irrelevant to "journalists" like you that the man under former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Novak's source for the article that started this whole brouhaha, gave evidence to Blitzer that Plame WAS NOT a covert CIA agent?
Obviously, the sad answer is "Yes," for facts in this story haven't been important to press members since Novak's article first appeared in July 2003.
For instance, take a look at how the Associated Press reported this Armitage interview ironically published by MSNBC.com November 12:
Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Sunday he was foolish to have revealed Valerie Plame's CIA identity.
"I think it was extraordinarily foolish of me" to have disclosed Plame's identity, Armitage said Sunday on CNN's "Late Edition." He was agreeing with comments by Plame that he should have known better.
Armitage said there was no ill-intent on his part. He said he spoke to Novak after seeing a reference to Wilson's wife in a memo, which did not name her.
See something conspicuously absent from this article? How about the fact that Armitage believed Plame wasn't a covert agent, and that he's "never seen, ever, in 43 years of having a security clearance, a covert operative's name in a memo?"
I guess the AP didn't feel that was important to its story concerning what Armitage told Blitzer that day. After all, this scandal has never been about exposing the truth.
And, this glomming onto a 121-word advertisement for a book that isn't even done yet is another disgraceful example of how unimportant the truth is to today's "journalists."
*****Update: NBer Keith pointed out another mistake in this AP piece (emphasis added) --
He said he spoke to Novak after seeing a reference to Wilson's wife in a memo, which did not name her.
As Keith accurately notes, Armitage said the memo DID name her. That was the point. As such, not only was the AP guilty of withholding information concerning this CNN interview, but it also misrepresented what Armitage told Blitzer!