All news is bad news

Howard Kurtz sums up the bad news for the news biz today and hits this familiar chime:

The indictment of Lewis “Scooter” Libby over his you-didn’t-get-this-from-me discussions with Tim Russert, Matt Cooper and Miller has dramatized the sagging reputation of reporters. Rather than digging out vital information, they are seen as conduits for political sniping and worse. The poster children for the press right now are Miller and Robert Novak, who has refused to discuss why he helped two senior administration officials in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

As Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times writes: “The Libby indictment shows that this administration has made monkeys of the Washington press corps by playing on its desire for access, for party chatter, for being on the inside looking out instead of the outside looking in.”

  • As if previous administrations haven’t done the same thing.

    The press have never noticed the stick or the string holding the carrot.

    Rove and Bush are not the problem; in fact, they should be commended for playing the press so well.

    The rules are chinging some, but the game is the same.

  • The job of Karl Rove, Lewis Libby, and every other government employee is to serve the public.

    It’s not to play a “game” of deceiving the public, smearing critics, and destroying CIA assets.

    That is not what we are paying Karl Rove’s salary and until recently Lewis Libby’s salary to do.

  • However, we elected Bush to create an administration, we didn’t elect the critics.

    Hiltzik is wrong; this whole “Plamegate” thing does not feel so slick coming from any direction. It’s difficult for the administration’s critics to understand this, but we don’t care about Plame; we care about why Wilson was sent on his strange mission and was allowed to essentially lie about his findings in order to disrupt a policy which many of us (so sorry) approved of and still support. The administration I helped elect had every right to defend itself from spurious attacks from malignant trolls like Joe Wilson.

  • Actually, this is very similar to tactics Bush used in TX where it worked very well. Legislators and press alike were soundly snubbed and not allowed any privileges if they didn’t take the party line and run with it. And Bush still hasn’t endorsed Gov. Perry, what do you suppose he’s holding over that particular head?

  • Carson Fire –

    When you “helped elect” Bush, were you hoping the Bush Administration would destroy CIA assets such as Brewster Jennings & Associates?

  • The press didn’t hide FDR’s paralysis?
    What about JFK’s liasons?

    The major media has always been in bed with government. They need each other too much for it to be otherwise.

  • jane

    I don’t analyze and can’t give specifics, but I feel that the overall conext for which the media is at least partly esponsible is keeping us from focusing on some basics.

    – As William Buckley wrote last week it is wrong to reveal CIA agents. I have mixed feelings about national security leaks, I think they can be justified if there is a good argument for public good (Pentagon papers, ;prsion gulags, corruption of US corporations in Iraq) but I think even then fierce scrutiny of the leaker and possible prisecution may be required. The Plame leak was purely for partisan purposes, yet somehow it seems that the rightwing theme that this is “normal” has had immense power. Rationalizations based on lies (NOC agents don’t work out of HQ when they’re in Washington) have led those who hide behind patriotism to justify something that is wrong. This was a national security leak merely to hurt a political enemy. Limpbaugh is not the one to decide what should be secret. There are other ways to address security.

    – The Reid action last week was presented as partisan game playing. While it’s true that in our adversarial society partisan flows are part of the action they can and often do represent issues of great importance. In this case Reid warned the Republicans to stop their destruction of traditional courtesies that have let our government work (informing opposition leaders of Supreme Court nominations) and reraised an issue of central impotance. We not only have distortions of intelligence before the wart, but evidence of a continued coup that has driven many experience intelligence and military officials out while they are replaced with politically correct Republican cadre such as those who governed Iraq under Bremer. While reform is probably necessary, there is good reason to fear we are destroying. Holding the promised investigation of adminstration ties to prewar failures is important. Certainly in the light of Col Wilkerson’s comments and those of General Scowcroft this should be obvious. An underlying story seems to be a move by the old National Security “establishment” to take back a bureaycracy they feel is being corrupted.

    However I feel to a large extent the press has allowed right/left feud to define the story.

  • Jorge

    Ms Miller and her associates are just a few. In time others will be exposed. Many people have commented about how revealing this story will become. It’s huge!

  • John

    Destroy a CIA asset? BJ&A? Even the most cursory inspection by the Boston Globe revealed BJ&A to be a front consisting of a phone and a post office box. If that is the best the CIA can do… well, we have more serious problems than Wilson including his wife’s maiden name in his Who’s Who entry since 1999.

    Explain to me again how all of this is supposed to be classified information.

  • John –

    Was the Boston Globe story on Brewster Jennings & Associates before-or-after Robert Novak announced the Valerie Plame used it as a CIA front?

    Regarding “Wilson including his wife’s maiden name in his Who’s Who entry since 1999.” What does that prove? The secret was the she worked for the CIA, not her existence.

  • Ravo

    Eric…It’s my understanding the woman hadn’t worked undercover for five years, and that she was CIA was known by many around Washington.

    Sting the King:

    It’s like a spy thriller. Institutional rivalries and political loyalties have fostered an intelligence officer’s resentment against the government. Suddenly, an opportunity appears for the agent to undercut the national leadership. A vital question of intelligence forms the core justification for controversial military actions by the current leaders. If this agent can get in the middle of that question, distort that information and make it public, the agent might foster regime change in the upcoming election.

    But the rules on agents are clear. They can’t purposely distort gathered intelligence, go public with secret information or use their position or information to manipulate domestic elections or matters without risking their job or jail.

    But their spouse can!

    The agent realizes her spouse can go out on behalf of the spy agency, can distort information, go public with classified information and use all this spy-agency-sponsored material and credentials to try to pull down the current government, and it is all perfectly legal.

    Suppose the spouse adds just one more brilliant, well-aimed lie: claim your foremost political opponent put the spouse up to the trip. As your spouse uses your agency’s name to mount attacks, your enemy may fall into your trap. Will your enemy suffer your spouse’s lies or take the bait and try to clarify his non-role? If he tells the press he didn’t hire your spouse, the press will demand to know, “Then who did?”

    Instead of you violating secrecy laws, it is your victim who is guilty because he tried to set the record straight. Heads, you win; tails, he loses.

    It sounds unbelievable, a fiction, perhaps to be called “To Sting a King.” But it is no fiction. This is the story behind Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson and the Bush administration. And it appears that Plame and Wilson will get away with the biggest sting operation ever.


  • Mike

    We’ve had a two year investigation into the “illegal outing” of Valerie Plame of the CIA.

    Victoria Toensing who participated in writing the orginal law (which the NY Times opposed interestingly) says that there is no chance that the law was broken. If this is the case, then the prosecutor should have shut down the investigation quickly.

    So… after two years, who has been indicted for the “illegal outing” of Valerie Plame (the original intent of the investigation)? And, if not, why does this investigation continue?

    Seems a bit odd to me.

  • Fran

    Journalist are made monkeys by just about everybody. If it’s not the administration, it’s an agency, an interest group, a lobbyist, a party out of office, a party positioning for the next election, a prosecutor, an aggrieved bureaucrat, a foreign intelligence agency. Here we have the Washington Press chastised for being on the inside looking in while the rest of the press, still enraptured by the lore of Watergate, aims not to look in but to tear down.

    If Rove and Miller are going to be chastised for the Wilson-Plame story, let’s chastise Kristof, Pincus and Hersh when we talking about conduits of political sniping and worse.

  • owl 1

    This entire thing was an attack UPON the White House by a rogue group of CIA agents/ex-agents, enabled by the MSM for the express benefit of the opposition party. Sad but true. So the Media are major players. If you are going to play today, you are going to have a light shone upon you.

    If this was truly a covert CIA “outing”, I would be in front of you in line. It wasn’t. The WH tried to push the attack back which is extremely difficult when you have the attack being waged behind a shield (CIA) by Media that hide behind shields (but only for certain people and when it fits their particular agenda) using almost perfect DNC campaign talking points. And Wilson the Mouthpiece just happens to be married to the shielded attacker, and he just happens to be the one that made the little trip, and happened to NOT have to sign the “shut ur mouth” paper like everyone else, who happened to NOT have to clear his Op-Ed with the CIA like everyone else, who just happened to have the need to talk against the WH in May when he happened to start work for Kerry campaign. He and wifey happened to have breakfasted with Kristoff(NYT) to give an interview that run in May. Pincus(WaPo) run in June. Partied with reporters on July 4th at his home with wifey. Not exactly hiding in the bushes?

    So who outed Valerie…..Libby or Rove? Try Wilson. Oh, you already noticed he was doing a fine job? Well, he also left a few witnesses behind in green rooms. They happen to be Generals that he told a YEAR before poor wife’s “outing”. That MSM really needs to start watching the details.

  • Ravo

    If prewar intelligence was faulty, the fault lies with the CIA which supplied the erroneous information, not with the political leaders, Democratic and Republican, who relied upon it.

    But Democrats who had access to the same intelligence President Bush had, and who because of it voted to authorize war with Iraq, are charging now that Bush deliberately deceived the nation into war.

    Kurtz apparently still isn’t getting it. Still claiming a WMD dupe.

    He’s an example of what the public is disgusted with.

    I guess all the following were doing “duping”?
    1. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), 23 January 2003
    2. French President Jacques Chirac, 16 October 2002
    3. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, 1 February 1998
    4. The United Nations (UNMOVIC), 6 March 2003
    5. President Bill Clinton, 17 February 1998
    6. The United Nations (UNMOVIC), 6 March 2003
    7. Al Gore, 23 September 2002
    8. President George W. Bush, 7 October 2002
    9. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), 19 September 2002
    10. Al Gore, 23 September 2002
    11. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), 10 October 2002
    12. Senator John Edwards (D-NC), 10 October 2002
    13. The United Nations (UNMOVIC), 6 March 2003
    14. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), 27 September 2002
    15. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), 10 October 2002
    16. The United Nations (UNMOVIC), 6 March 2003
    17. Letter signed by Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Congressman Harold Ford (D-TN), Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA) and others, 6 December 2001
    18. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), 27 September 2002
    19. National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, 18 February 1998
    20. The United Nations (UNMOVIC), 6 March 2003
    21. Senator John Edwards (D-NC), 24 February 2002

  • monkeyboy

    As long as we are talking about how horrible it is to leak classified information, we should probably also ask why the CIA did not ask Wilson to sign the usual confidentiality agreements when he went on his trip. Now every ex-politico going overseas will be seen as a CIA spy. We can also ask who leaked our “secret prison” program, endangering our troops and impacting our relationships with our allies.

    …Oh wait, investigating those leaks won’t hurt Bush, nevermind.

  • Patrick Fitzgerald, of course, is right. Establishing the truth about the path to war in Iraq is not his job, but that of Congress or the White House. Sadly, when it comes to finding definitive answers regarding the Bush administration’s uses of pre-war intelligence, neither Republican-controlled institution seems too concerned about the truth…

    For the full story, see:

    “Fitzgerald, Iraq and the Truth About Pre-War Intelligence.”

  • owl 1

    Nice list ya got there Ravo! But Ravo……didn’t you know that Bush mislead them? Those poor, easily manipulated babies that just happened to have sat in positions of power……long BEFORE Bush. Makes you wonder exactly what the heck they are good for……

    The Democrats are better salesmen. They are butter smooth. They sold me in 1998 on WMDs and it is not fair to just give the credit to Republicans. Listen to their words and the smooth rhythm. Kerry might put you to sleep with such cadence. They NEVER stutter, invent words, mutter or look goofy as they speak. Smooth and so articulate about Iraq in 1998 (did they KNOW George W Bush was coming?) that you just know, they know, what they are talking about.

  • monkeyboy

    We should look into the pre-war intelligence, the first question we need to ask is:

    Was the section of the CIA saying that the Iraqis had no WMDs the same group that said that the North Koreans, Pakistanis, Indians, Iranians and Lybians had no nuclear programs? If it was, then the government had an excellent reason to ignore them.

  • Sarah

    It’s so funny to see the RW talking points being repeated ad nauseum. The Wilsons’ neighbors of 25 years thought Valerie was a consultant or a soccer mom. The only people that knew about Valerie’s identity as a NOC were her husband, her brother, and her parents.

    Yes, she was known in Washington circles, but she was not known as an undercover CIA agent. Rove, Libby, and their compliant media lapdogs are guilty of treason-no matter how Fox News tries to spin it.