The Good Reverend
Monday, September 29, 2003
Now, if Plame were an analyst, what would she tell people?
Via Crooked Timber, I came across this post from Jim Henley's blog, Unqualified Offerings:
    Come to think of it, a fun Washington fact I learned years ago from my buddy Toiler, who really is an analyst for the CIA. If someone asks him where he works, he has to tell them he works for the CIA. He is not to lie or dodge the question. Why? So he won't ruin it for the people that do have to lie or dodge the question.
Henley explains why this is evidence that Plame really did work for "the Agency's clandestine [read: covert] services division".
Watching the Spin
Here's how the online media is covering Plamegate, as of 11:00PM EST:

CNN: Top story of the site; quotes Novak's "nobody in the White House called me" Crossfire revelation, but immediately launches into "The leak could constitute a felony". A seperate article about Novak is linked from the front page, but clearly isn't the top story, and includes a bare-bones definition of the IIP Act at the end. Both articles quote Wilson extensively.

MSNBC: Top story of the site; Novak isn't mentioned until three quarters through the article, and his Crossfire statements aren't played up very much. The second story linked from the front page is analysis on how the Democrats stand to benefit from this "whodunit" scandal.

Top story on CBSNews.com, citing the White House denial as the headline. The article reveals that the FBI and the counter-espionage division of the Justice Department have launched investigations into Plamegate, saying the leak is "a federal crime that could endanger the agent and compromise her contacts".
FoxNews.com's front page is dedicated to Schwarzenegger and Novak isn't mentioned anywhere. The article is from the Associated Press and Novak still isn't mentioned. The article contains a new (at least to me) revelation:
    White House officials, at their senior staff meeting, were urged to contact Justice if they had relevant information, officials said.
... and a good quote:
    [White House Press Secretary] McClellan said White House officials were not trying to determine on their own what had happened or who was involved. "Are we supposed to chase down every anonymous report in the newspaper? We'd spend all our time doing that." (No, Mr. McClellan, just the ones that break the law and compromise Iraq war plans.)
ABCNews.com carries Plamegate as its top story; headline: "White House Denies Leaking CIA Agent's ID". The article (like FoxNews.com's) is from the Associated Press.

NYTimes.com: carries a relatively pro-White House spin in its headline: "A Top Bush Aide Didn't Identify C.I.A. Agent, White House Says". A more accurate headline would read, "White House: Rove Didn't Identify C.I.A. Agent". The article links Plamegate with Iraq:
    The growing furor underscored the Bush administration's continued political vulnerability on the issue of whether it exaggerated the threat from Iraq before the war. The developments also raised questions about the relationship between the White House and George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence.
Novak's quote isn't mentioned until the second page of the article.

WashingtonPost.com: up-to-date headline: "Bush Promises Action if Aides Had Role in Leak"; Novak on Crossfire isn't mentioned until halfway through the article, and only after revealing that another reporter, who remains anonymous, confirmed being contacted by "an administration official" before Novak's column was published, calling it an effort to discredit Wilson. Includes this bit of info:
    Some congressional Democrats insisted on the need for a special counsel yesterday. In a letter to Ashcroft, Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.) and Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), Carl M. Levin (Mich.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (W.Va.) requested a special counsel "because of the obvious and inherent conflicts of interests involved."
USAToday.com: Pays close attention to Bush's signing of the Do-Not-Call list legislation, but gives some prominance to Plamegate, calls Novak's Crossfire moment a "new wrinkle", and adds that Senator and presidential candidate Joe Lieberman (D-CT) will introduce legislation to re-enact the law that allowed the use of independent counsels to investigate suspected White House misdoings. The law expired in 1999.

Novak's Crossfire moment is the top story on Drudge. No surprise there. However, NewsMax.com buries a hard spin article on Wilson's downplay of his previous "Karl Rove frog-marched" comment.

Plamegate is third from the top on LATimes.com. I honestly didn't feel like re-registering for the site to read the article.

The New York Post site barely mentions the affair, but carries an Associated Press article. Same with the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, Sacramento Bee, Detroit Free Press, and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Miami Herald site at least gives the maturing scandal "TOP NATION / WORLD NEWS" billing.

There's no mention of Plamegate at all on the front page of WashTimes.com, nor in the "Nation/Politics" area. A search reveals a single UPI article from today, but wherever it's linked from, it's buried.

All in all, the maturing scandal still stands on four energetic legs, despite Novak's "new wrinkle", which is getting buried amonst the noise while much of the conservative press nearly flat-out ignores the issue. The Plame Affair could still be buried in the news by the upcoming (expected) Schwarzenegger win in California, as is evidenced by the papers on the west coast, but, should another damaging revelation come up soon, it'll probably still be alive and kicking when the press (outside of California, at least) gets bored with Gov. Arnold.
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