Monday, October 03, 2005

The Sky "Seems" Blue
Eric Boehlert: The Sky "Seems" Blue

Even with the administration's troubles mounting, the press cannot shed its five-year-old habit of extending exaggerated deference to the White House—a habit the same Beltway press corps discarded about five weeks into Clinton's first term.

Just look at Sunday's Washington Post article about the ongoing Valarie Plame investigation for evidence of the telltale timidity. The Post article noted that both Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, as well as Bush's deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, played key roles in the Plame controversy, with each speaking to reporters about Plame before columnist Robert Novak outed her in his column. That, according to attorneys who are familiar with Rove and Libby's grand jury testimony. The Post also reported that news of Rove and Libby's central roles does not mesh with what administration officials told reporters when the scandal first broke.

But note the Post's payoff passage: "Their testimony seems to contradict what the White House was saying a few months after Plame's CIA job became public." [Emphasis added.]

According to the Post, if you look at White House comments about Libby and Rove re: Plame from 2003 and study them side-by-side with the current testimony from Libby and Rove re: Plame, they seem to contradict each other. That's like saying coach Charlie Weis seems to be a popular man in South Bend, Ind. these days.

A more accurate Post description for its Sunday article would have been, "Their testimony completely contradicts what the White House was saying a few months after Plame's CIA job became public." Or "flatly," or "fully," or just plain "contradicts." But "seems"? That makes no sense.

Even more peculiar is the fact he Post itself points out how clear the contradictions are, citing White House spokesman Scott McClellan, who told reporters in 2003 that he personally asked Libby and Rove whether they were involved, "so I could come back to you and say they were not involved." Asked if that was a categorical denial, McClellan answered, "That is correct." And if the paper wanted more proof, the Post could have also referenced this White House briefing back-and-forth from the same time period regarding the Plame investigation:

Question: Yes, but I'm just wondering if there was a conversation between Karl Rove and the President, or if he just talked to you --

McClellan: He wasn't involved. The President knows he wasn't involved.

The White House has been caught spreading glaring lies regarding a criminal investigation, but the Post only musters enough courage to report contradictions seem to be in play.