Thursday, September 07, 2006

Broder Column Excoriates Media

Well, to the extent that David Broder "excoriates" anyone.

With the revelation that the source of the story that third-rank Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA operative --- I'm still not persuaded that she was --- was not anyone in the White House, but rather notorious dove Richard Armitage at the State Department --- is anyone surprised that the State Department is undermining a Conservative's foreign policy? --- a healthy dose of crow is being served in Broder's Washington Post column today.

One of the things that makes Broder a "must read," notwithstanding his Liberal credentials, is that he is that increasingly all-too-rare breed: an honest Liberal. While few would dispute that he is a Liberal, he is not an unthinking Kool-Aid drinker. The same can now be said of Nation columnist David Corn who, while still an unregenerate foe of anything American, exhibits a commitment to the truth in co-authoring the revelation. Broder's column today on the sordid Plame-gate affair gives no quarter to those among his colleagues who served as little more than mouthpieces for conspiracy-theory Democrat talking points. The likes of first-order hack Sidney Blumenthal comes in for a special spanking:

Blumenthal, a former aide to President Bill Clinton and now a columnist for several publications, has just published a book titled, "How Bush Rules: Chronicles of a Radical Regime." It is a collection of his columns for Salon, including one originally published on July 14, 2005, titled "Rove's War."

It was occasioned by the disclosure of a memo from Time magazine's Matt Cooper, saying that Rove had confirmed to him the identity of Valerie Plame. To Blumenthal, that was proof that this "was political payback against Wilson by a White House that wanted to shift the public focus from the Iraq War to Wilson's motives."

Then Blumenthal went off on a rant: "While the White House stonewalls, Rove has license to run his own damage control operation. His surrogates argue that if Rove did anything, it wasn't a crime. . . . Rove is fighting his war as though it will be settled in a court of Washington pundits. Brandishing his formidable political weapons, he seeks to demonstrate his prowess once again. His corps of agents raises a din in which their voices drown out individual dissidents. His frantic massing of forces dominates the capital by winning the communications battle. Indeed, Rove may succeed momentarily in quelling the storm. But the stillness may be illusory. Before the prosecutor, Rove's arsenal is useless."

In fact, the prosecutor concluded that there was no crime; hence, no indictment.
Also mentioned are WaPo sister publication Newsweek (or, as well called it in high school forensics, Viewsweek), and Clintonista apologist Joe Conason:
Newsweek, in a July 25, 2005, cover story on Rove, after dutifully noting that Rove's lawyer said the prosecutor had told him that Rove was not a target of the investigation, added: "But this isn't just about the Facts, it's about what Rove's foes regard as a higher Truth: That he is a one-man epicenter of a narrative of Evil."

And in the American Prospect's cover story for August 2005, Joe Conason wrote that Rove "is a powerful bully. Fear of retribution has stifled those who might have revealed his secrets. He has enjoyed the impunity of a malefactor who could always claim, however implausibly, deniability -- until now."

I suspect that the rather tepid dose of moral equivalence that he lends to his analysis --- "No one behaved well in the whole mess -- not Wilson, not [indicted former Chief of Staff to Vice President Cheney Lewis "Scooter"] Libby, not special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and not the reporters involved" --- is to be anticipated, even though it is laughable in its flagrance.

Broder concludes in his rather understated way, noting that "These and other publications owe Karl Rove an apology. And all of journalism needs to relearn the lesson: Can the conspiracy theories and stick to the facts."

Yeah. But don't hold your breath. And certainly don't expect it to be given the air-time/ink that the conspiracy theorists received.


Virginia Centrist said...

I never understood why this plame thing was even a story.....

That being said - I blame GOP scandal management (nonexistent lately)! We recently learned that this whole thing was blown out of proportion...but why couldn't rove/et/al have told us that 2 years ago???

James Young said...

I agree with your first point, VC.

To answer your question, "scandal management" is more difficult when you have done nothing wrong (i.e., Clinton was good at scandal management because he knew what he had to cover up). I can't begrudge the failure of Rove, et al., to tell us two years ago that they were not the source, because that just would have provoked more accusations of a cover-up.

You may be right, and there was a better way to handle this, but short of a thumbscrew party at the State Department, I cannot for the life of me imagine what it could have been.