Everybody’s Out of the Loop

Yesterday Brad Delong made Campaign Desk proud by picking up the telephone to question New York Times White House correspondent Elisabeth Bumiller about her coverage of the Bush administration’s response to the Richard Clarke revelations. Specifically, Delong wanted to know about Vice President Dick Cheney’s comment that Clarke was “out of the loop,” which Condelezza Rice later denied. Delong felt Bumiller had offered readers “A simple ‘she (Rice) said, he (Cheney) said’: one-against-one, with no clues as to who is more credible.” Delong asked Bumiller why she didn’t stack the article with quotes to discredit Cheney’s statement; Bumiller replied that she, “doesn’t write opinion,” that “the news was Rice contradicting what Cheney had said to Rush Limbaugh,” and that she “only had 300 words.”

Delong pressed on: “My assertion that whether Clarke was out-of-the-loop or was the loop itself is a matter of fact, and that a reporter has a duty to ascertain and to report to her readers such matters of fact, did not meet with a response.” Perhaps Bumiller is angling for Scott McClellan’s job?

Over at “Tapped,” Matthew Yglesias has this to say about the impact of Clarke’s testimony on the election: “Whatever the scale of the impact, it’s hard to see how the business we’ve seen this week could be construed as helping the president; Kerry really only needs to do a little damage on this front in order to win, and he has plenty of time to try and inflict it.”

The fallout from Clarke’s testimony, however, is hardly the only controversy swirling around the Bush campaign. In yesterday’s blog report we asked exactly how Maine had defeated West Virginia in the first round of the Bush student volunteer registration tournament despite registering two fewer volunteers. Perhaps heeding our advice that a recount was in order, West Virginia has now defeated Maine by a count of 488 to 447. Sources, who spoke to Campaign Desk on the condition of anonymity because they are fictitious, told us that Maine is considering legal action with the hope that the Supreme Court will hear their case.

Howard Dean officially endorsed John Kerry yesterday and the die hard Deaniacs over at the still vibrant Dean for America blog filled comment board after comment board with, you guessed it, comments. Despite Dean’s prodding, some of his supporters haven’t jumped onto the Kerry bandwagon. At 9:45 p.m. reader Lyshriol grumbled while watching last night’s Democratic Unity dinner, “zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…huh? oh still droning. I remember the FL convention in Dec, none of us could watch Kerry. Just sooo boring. Hardly anyone even in the room to watch.” In a similar tone, reader Quidam lamented, “It may seem pointless now, but I’m just sitting here waiting for the Pennsylvania Primary to finally come so I can finally cast my vote for Howard Dean. Ah, yes; it would be nice to actually have a chance to have a vote that actually mattered. Make me believe again, Howard.”

And this Friday the 26th of March we close on a sad note offering our deepest condolences to the Knight Ridder “Hot Off the Trail” blog, for there will be no day after tomorrow. The good folks writing from the Contra Costa Times to the Philadelphia Inquirer to the Miami Herald signed off with this message: “There are still surprises to come. But for now, it’s mostly Kerry vs. Bush, rumors and allegations, and ads slamming each other. This is our cue to make a graceful exit.” So long, and thanks for the memories.

Thomas Lang

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Thomas Lang was a writer at CJR Daily.