Posted by MEC on March 17, 2007
Julie Hirschfeld Davis of the Associated Press provides a lesson on how to report on a big story without including any significant detail whatever:
Valerie Plame put a glamorous face and a personal story to Democrats’ criticism of the Bush administration Friday…
Mmm yeah. The important thing about a woman who helped to manage and run one of the CIA’s most important worldwide programs is that she’s a looker. Uh huh. Happy Women’s History Month.
Plame, the operative at the center of the leak scandal that resulted in last week’s criminal conviction of a former top White House official, created more of a stir by her presence on Capitol Hill than by her testimony.
She revealed little new information about the case….
Oh, so it’s not significant that she settled the question of whether she was, in fact, a covert agent and therefore White House officials committed a serious breach of national security by outing her.
Still, Plame’s appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was a moment of political theater that dramatized Democrats’ drive to use their control of Congress to expose what they see as White House efforts to intimidate dissenters.
See? It’s all just about partison politics, not about Congress’ duty to provide oversight, especially when there’s misconduct in the other branches of government.
News cameras whirred and spectators craned their necks to catch a glimpse of Plame as the blond former operative took her place alone at the witness table for her 90 minutes of testimony.
The rest of the report is just as empty — except where Davis is actively undermining Valerie Plame Wilson’s testimony by repeating disinformation.
Davis reports that Plame said she was covert, but immediately undermines this revelation by quibbling over the meaning of “covert”, thus insinuating that even though Plame was covert she wasn’t, you know, really covert. She omits the crucial detail that Plame also testified she had been on undercover missions overseas within the last five years, thus meeting the legal definition of covert — and therefore she was, in fact, covered by the legal prohibition against revealing her identity.
To counter Plame’s testimony that she had not recommended her husband for the trip to Niger, Davis points out that it “conflicts with senior officials at the CIA and State Department, who testified during Libby’s trial and told Congress that Plame recommended Wilson for the trip.” Davis neglects to cite Plame’s testimony about the memo that’s been proffered as evidence she “sent her husband to Niger”: She wrote it at the request of the CIA official who actually did make the decision, to confirm the trip and not to authorize it.
Davis finishes on the same smarmy note with which she started:
Friday’s hearing showed the intense interest in Plame, who drew autograph-seekers and camera-toting congressional aides to a hearing on an otherwise quiet morning.
Even a member of Congress confessed to being a bit star-struck.
“If I seem a little nervous, I’ve never questioned a spy before,” Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga. said. “I was here during the steroid hearings, too, and I don’t think any of those baseball stars got this kind of media attention that you’re getting today.”
Watching the C-SPAN broadcast of the testimony, I saw Westmoreland make that comment. It wasn’t “star-struck”. It was condescending. He seemed to be chiding Plame for all the fuss she was causing. Westmoreland went on to accuse Plame of wanting to undermine the case for war because she’s a Democrat, which sorta kinda indicates he was the opposite of “star-struck”. But Davis had her story, and she was sticking to it.
After all, keeping your story straight is far more important than telling the truth. Just ask Scooter Libby and his former employer.
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