Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Read Between the Lines: Does the Press Smell Blood?

There's something Very Interesting about this Washington Post article by Jim VandeHei:

With a growing number of Democrats calling for Rove's resignation, the Republican National Committee and congressional Republicans sought to discredit Democratic critics and knock down allegations of possible criminal activity. ... The emerging GOP strategy -- devised by Mehlman and other Rove loyalists outside of the White House -- is to try to undermine those Democrats calling for Rove's ouster, play down Rove's role and wait for President Bush's forthcoming Supreme Court selection to drown out the controversy, according to several high-level Republicans. ...the RNC -- effectively Bush's political arm -- weighed into the controversy in a major fashion. Mehlman, who said he talked with Rove several times in recent days, instructed GOP legislators, lobbyists and state officials to accuse Democrats of dirty politics and argue Rove was guilty of nothing more than discouraging a reporter from writing an inaccurate story, according to RNC talking points circulated yesterday. ... Wilson was a chief target of the new GOP offensive designed to take some pressure off Rove. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said the White House did not have to discredit Wilson. "Nobody had to do that," he said, adding that "he discredited his own report" by including unfounded allegations. The RNC talking point memo included a list of anti-Wilson lines.
For years, the press corpse has repeated Republican spin uncritically, as if it were The Truth. But VandeHei repeatedly informs his readers that what the Republicans are saying is just political strategy. He might as well have said outright, "Don't believe a word of it." It gets better:
Bush has said if any White House officials were involved, they would be fired. The president yesterday twice refused to answer questions on whether Rove should be dismissed. ... Rove has maintained he neither knew Plame's name nor leaked it to anyone. In an interview yesterday, Wilson said his wife goes by Mrs. Wilson, so it would be clear who Rove was talking about, and noted how Rove attends the same church as the Wilson family.
Twice in one article, a member of the White House press corpse points out the contradiction between what they claim and what they do. If that doesn't blow your astonishment fuse, this will:
Whatever the legal considerations in the case, the emerging record suggests that the administration was involved in an effort to discredit Wilson after he went public with his criticism.
VandeHei actually goes so far as to cut through the legal wrangling and summarize the heart of the scandal: Rove outed a CIA agent in order to suppress dissent. It's looking like a SCANDAL, folks. Pass the popcorn.
I agree. This article is a robin, and it could be a sign of spring.

Perhaps it's just one reporter, perhaps the press is beginning to realize that it is losing the one real asset a media outlet has, namely credibility, maybe it's just the silly season.

But the tone of the article is different.

Now please tell me why Bob Somerby has chosen to savage Joe Wilson.
1) Just as Somerby holds that Al Gore can do no wrong, he has his bĂȘtes noires, those who can do no right. Howard Dean is one -- several people have written in to Bob to ask him to cover some injustice done to Dean, only to be swatted away with the "Stay away from Dean, he's crazy" line. Joe Wilson is another. Somerby's hate-on for Wilson is so intense that he's even decided to pretend that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, might not be covered under the statutes that forbid outing of CIA NOCs! (The idea is that if a NOC hasn't served overseas in the last five years, it's OK to out him/her. But even taking so much as a single trip overseas is enough to keep one in full NOC status -- and Plame's cover job as an energy analyst would have called for plenty of overseas trips, particularly to the Middle East.)

2) I think that he's been losing his readership to the blogs and to Media Matters, and it's pissing him off, which is making him sound like Maureen Dowd on a bender.
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