Yesterday, Karl Rove testified — for the fifth time — before the federal grand jury in the CIA leak case. Today, reporters are being called to the carpet (or the blogospheric equivalent) for their coverage of said event.
Including, apparently, for allowing Team Rove to spin them silly. According to Booman at Booman Tribune, “Prior to Rove’s appearance, sources ‘close to Rove’ seeded expectations into articles at the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CNN, and elsewhere. Their story was that Rove was going in to address one issue: the meeting between his lawyer Robert Luskin and former Time reporter Viveca Novak.” In a separate post, Booman takes a look at today’s coverage and observes that “Rove has attempted to take advantage of Fitzgerald’s reticence to spin, in order to place his version of his testimony in the papers of record” and, he contends, the Post’s Jim VandeHei “sticks rather closely to Rove’s narrative…”
Jane Hamsher, too, sees Team Rove having its way with reporters (“uncritical repeating of spin” being one of Hamsher’s “personal pet peeve[s].”) To Hamsher’s eyes, “the same piece of spin keeps popping up article after article — unchallenged and unquestioned by any of the reporters who have dutifully copied down the dulcet tones of Gold Bars Luskin and committed them to paper.” That spin (as recorded in the Los Angeles Times)? “Robert D. Luskin, Rove’s lawyer, said Wednesday that Fitzgerald had made no decision on whether to bring charges against Rove. Some legal experts said the timing and circumstances of Rove’s latest testimony, which Luskin said was given ‘voluntarily and unconditionally,’ suggested that an indictment might not be imminent and that the development could be viewed as positive for Rove.”
About the first sentence, Hamsher reminds readers that it is not the special counsel but the grand jury that does the charging, writing, “You know when you decide that someone is going to be indicted? As you are handed the true bill from the foreperson of the grand jury and you are about to ink off on the prosecutor’s signature line along with the presiding judge. Any speculation about it beforehand is irrelevant.” And Hamsher has another reminder in regards to the second sentence: “no one really knows what Fitzgerald has in his pockets or what he and his team are thinking except him and his team.”
More open to — welcoming, even — of “speculation” is Impolitical who concludes her Rove-related post thusly: “Until the truth outs, let the speculation continue.” As for what she calls “the spin from Rove’s counsel … to the Washington Post … that [Rove] would have been stupid to lie,” Impolitical says, “Yeah, come on Fitz, stop wasting this honest John’s time! I mean, Rove just oozes honesty and integrity, are you blind, man?”
At A Scrivner’s Lament, Delilah Boyd zeroes in on the following five words uttered by Rove’s lawyer yesterday (and faults the press for not similarly zeroing): “In connection with this appearance, the Special Counsel has advised Mr. Rove that he is not a target of the investigation.” Asks Boyd, “Why the qualifier, Mr. Luskin? … What about Rove’s previous grand jury appearances, Mr. Luskin?” Boyd concludes, in exasperation, “When are reporters going to get a God damned clue and ask the right damned questions? Jeez!”
It’s another journalistic no-no — leaving the good stuff to the end — that catches the eye of Tom Maguire at JustOneMinute. Maguire hands the New York Times’ Anne Kornblut the prize for “buried lede du jour” for relegating the following information to paragraph 19 (of 19):
“Robert Novak, who first disclosed Valerie Plame’s identity in a July 2003 column, ‘has testified to the grand jury since Mr. Rove’s last appearance in October 2005.’”
Responds Maguire: “He did? When has anyone reported anything about Novak, and why isn’t this featured a bit more prominently?”
Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.
And then, demonstrating the extent of his faith in the press, Maguire has this afterthought, “Of course, this might be wrong.”