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July 23, 2004

That Lawrence O'Donnell Transcript

Scarborough Country finally put up the transcript of the discussion with Lawrence O'Donnell I mentioned yesterday.

Here's O'Donnell, Democratic operative, dismissing the "Republican leak" claims regarding Berger.

SCARBOROUGH: ... The “CBS Evening News” didn‘t lead with the Berger story last night. Instead, they led with the dramatic body count from Iraq.


DAN RATHER, CBS ANCHOR: Almost two a day, that is the rate American troops are dying in Iraq, with the total now approaching 900 since the war began.


SCARBOROUGH: Well, when they did finally get around to reporting the Berger story, this is how Dan Rather introduced it.


RATHER: Sandy Berger, who was national security adviser under President Clinton, stepped aside today as an adviser to Senator John Kerry. CBS‘ John Roberts reports, this was triggered by carefully orchestrated leak about Berger, and the timing of it appears to be no coincidence.


SCARBOROUGH: Lawrence O‘Donnell, let me bring you in here. You can throw some cold water on those of us that believe the media is giving Sandy Berger a free pass.

I want to read for you what “The New York Times” said today about this. They characterized Sandy Berger‘s day on Tuesday this way—quote - - “Mr. Berger endured a day of furious criticism from Republican leaders.” And “The Times” went on to say: “Republicans accused him of stashing the material in his clothing, but Berger called that accusation ‘ridiculous‘ and politically inspired.”

And, Lawrence, I read “The Times” every day. I love the newspaper. But I saw the front page article on the left side. I flipped it over, where it jumped. I read through the entire—and at the very end, you finally got quotes from Republicans. But above that, it was Sandy Berger‘s spokespeople, his friends, his lawyers. It looked like a puff piece for Sandy Berger.

But it wasn‘t the Republicans who accused Berger. It was staffers at the National Archives. Is there a media bias here?

O‘DONNELL: Well, Joe, first of all, here‘s the best newspaper in America putting the story on the front page.

And, yes, everything in the story came from Sandy Berger and his lawyer. It was not leaked. What we know about this story was told to us by Sandy Berger. And every bit of it is nutty. There‘s not one piece of Sandy Berger or his lawyers‘ part in that story that doesn‘t sound crazy when you read it.

Now, the political motivation for this is an awful lot simpler than I am afraid Dan Rather is any longer capable of understanding.


O‘DONNELL: The big incentive to get this story out comes from the Kerry campaign, not the Bush campaign.

SCARBOROUGH: Why is that?

O‘DONNELL: If you have worked in campaigns, you know that, when you get a bomb that you can throw at the other side, you save it until October. You save it as late as possible.

Imagine, for example, even this story breaking a week later, breaking the day John Kerry was to give his speech in Boston. That is exactly what the Kerry campaign didn‘t want. I think, when we get the journalistic autopsy on this eventually, what you are going to find is Sandy Berger very slowly and very reluctantly and very, very recently told the Kerry campaign that he was being investigated by the FBI.

The Kerry campaign immediately said to him, you have got to make that public right away and we cannot let you go forward without making that public. He makes it public. You watch what happens to the story in 12 hours, and you cut him loose. And you want that to happen as soon as possible. You want it to happen this week, rather than next week. You want it to happen in July, rather than October.

All the incentive to push this story out and get it done with now comes from the Kerry campaign. The Bush campaign‘s incentive would be exactly the opposite.

One question: Will the media begin pillorying the Democrats for their "suspicious timing" regarding the leak? After all, if Republicans are to be condemned for leaking for their own advantage, shouldn't Democrats be likewise condemned?

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posted by Ace at 03:43 AM

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