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Why Did He Do It? | Main | TNR's Editor-in-Chief Savages Wilson & Berger
July 22, 2004

The Ace of Spades HQ Guide for Quickly Determining If a Scandal Hurts Liberals or Conservatives

Headline: A Politician Does a Very Bad Thing; America Outraged

Oooh, stay away from this one. This is going to be nothing but bad news.

On the other hand:

Headline: Partisan hostaet-Men and Smear-Merchants Leak Very Sensitive Information About Something You Shouldn't Worry About; A Nation Fumes at the "Timing" of Release

READ THAT ARTICLE, BABY! Once you get through the tendentious "what sort of a world is it when law enforcement officers and prosecutors leak information about the crimes they're working on to the press, of all people" narrative of the first thirty paragraphs, you can be guaranteed of something juicy, although vaguely worded, in the final paragraphs 31 and 32.

Gee, how is it I know so much about the Plame investigation? I have read, for example, that the prosecutors had determined that the person who leaked to Bob Novak probably worked in the office of the Vice President; I've heard the name "Scooter Libby" leaked more times than I care to count.

And yet I've never read one headline questioning the "timing" of such leaks, nor tut-tutting the fact that such information was leaked at all. No, in that case, the story is the leak itself.

But it's a little bit different when there's a scandal that harms liberals, isn't it? Suddenly, the only story is how this terrible story came into the notice of the press, and how terrible it was someone fed this to a reporter. (Which is sort of a strange position for a reporter to take, it seems. Sort of like bear getting extremely pissed off about how all these goddamned salmon got stocked in this river.)

RatherBiased, a site I've got to add to my sidebar, tips me to this subtle Dan Rather intro to the main Berger story on last night's news:

Sandy Berger, who was National Security Adviser under President
Clinton stepped aside today as an adviser to Senator John Kerry. CBS's John
Roberts reports this was triggered by a carefully orchestrated leak
about Berger and the timing of it appears to be no coincidence.

Notice that this intro -- this verbal headline, if you will -- contains absolutely no reference to the actual crimes committed by Berger. The only crime hinted at is the crime of Conspiracy of Republicans (Allegedly) Talking to Reporters.

In the First Fucking Degree, baby.

Sandy Berger was forced to step down as an advisor to Kerry... because of a "carefully orchestrated leak." A leak about what? Never mind that. Didn't you hear? Someone might have leaked to the press, and get this, they might have had personal or even political motives for doing so.


RatherBiased has searched for Rather's previous uses of the phrase "carefully orchestrated leak."

What do you think he found? Since 1990, Rather's used the phrase 4 times. All four times he used it in reference to a scandal that hurt Democratic politicians.

One example:

Vice President Gore is also on the spot tonight over a new, carefully
orchestrated leak involving accusations about Gore's past campaign
fund-raising practices. A Justice Department official is calling for an
independent investigator in the case." --CBS Evening News, June 22, 2000.

He's got three more. The boy's gots the mad Lexis/Nexus skillz.

And Rather seems to be guessing rather than reporting, anyway. Lawrence O'Donnell says that the leak actually came entirely from Sandy Berger and Lanny Davis. He says that everything we've read so far can be attributed directly to them.

Davis caught wind of the investigation, his theory goes, and Davis demanded that Berger out himself now -- and not in October, which O'Donnell stressed was the "timing" Bush would prefer -- and then step aside. He also cited Lanny Davis' own book, which says something to the effect that the only thing you control in a scandal is the timing of the disclosure.

But even if this was leaked by Republicans-- so fucking what? Are we not allowed to leak? Why is it that there are thousands of leaks about Abu Ghraib, the 9-11 commission, Niger-uranium claims of Joe Wilson, the Plame investigation etc., and in these cases, the motives or political leanings of the persons leaking the information is never so much as mentioned, never mind being made the headline bullet-point Main Thesis of the story?

The press only gets scoops via leaks. If it's pubically announced, it's not a scoop. Leaks happen hundreds of times a day in Washington DC alone. And yet, despite the press' reliance on deliberate, politically-motivated or personal-agenda-type leaks for the product they produce, they suddenly damn the practice.

But only when the scandal hurts a liberal politician.

Let's be adults here. I have no doubt that the Bush Administration has an interest in promoting this story. Leaking it. Although I agree with Lawrence O'Donnell-- I think Bush should have waited until October. And, if he had his druthers, he would have waited until October.

But let's assume that Bush chose this timing, and he chose this timing to hurt Kerry.

Precisely what timing should he have chosen? Timing that would have done as little damage to Kerry as possible?

Are you serious? Why, on earth, would he want to "time" a leak so as to help his political opponent? Is that the standard now required of Republicans, and Republicans only?

Let's talk about the timing that Kerry would have preferred-- he'd have preferred the timing of the leak to be sometime after, oh, November 3rd or so.

Is that timing to be preferred to the actual timing? If so, why? When did the media suddenly become an institution committed to the suppression of important information until after election day has passed?

Oh, right. It becomes such an institution when a scandal is about to sting its preferred candidate in the ass.

digg this
posted by Ace at 05:02 AM

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