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July 24, 2012

BuzzFeed: Romney Is Kind Of Hypocrite In Going After Obama On Leaks. Reality: No He's Not

This is how media narratives are built and why they must be destroyed early on.

Andrew Kaczynski is a master of digging up old stories, videos and pictures. Sometimes they illuminate, sometimes they are amusing but irrelevant and sometimes they are flat out wrong. Going after Romney in a post entitled "Mitt Romney's 2007 Defense Of Scooter Libby Could Come Back To Haunt Him" is the last of those options.

Mitt Romney is planning to hammer President Obama for national security leaks in a major speech today. But Romney's past defense of Scooter Libby in the Valerie Plame leak case shows he hasn't always taken a hard line against suspected leakers. Asked in two 2007 debates if Libby should have been pardoned, Romney called the investigation of Libby a “political vendetta” and “prosecutorial indiscretion.”

As several people on Twitter, myself included, pointed out right away, the problem with this comparison is that Libby didn't leak Plame's name (or at the very least whether or not he did is very much in doubt).

To back up his claim that Libby was a leaker, Kaczynski pointed me to this 2007 story on former NY Times reporter Judith Miller where the Times reports that she testified Libby leaked Plame's name to her.

As she began her testimony, she was calm and soft-voiced as she faced Mr. Fitzgerald, and discussed three conversations she had had in June and July of 2003 with Mr. Libby. Those conversations, in which Ms. Miller said an agitated and anxious Mr. Libby criticized the Central Intelligence Agency and informed her of the identity of an agency operative, Valerie Wilson, are a significant part of the perjury and obstruction case against him.

The problem, as Ben Domenech points out, is that in 2005 Miller testified Libby did not give her Plame's name.

I testified that I did not believe the name came from Mr. Libby, in part because the notation does not appear in the same part of my notebook as the interview notes from him.

So the "proof" that Libby leaked and therefore Romney is a hypocrite on investigating leaks is conflicting testimony from the same person. Mitt's "problem" according to Kaczynski's argument is Mitt believes the 2005 version of Judith Miller but not the 2007 model.

Why is this even remotely important? Buzzfeed's political posts can be launching pads of MSM story-lines. Once a false version of something gets going, it's impossible to unring a bell.

I know people have different feelings about Buzzfeed in general and Kaczynski in particular but I appreciate that he at least engages with critics. Today he's just flat out wrong. There's no shame in making a mistake but doubling down on one is unfair to the people being reported on.

Related: Earlier today I posted about Romney's attacks on Obama's national security leaks and Diane Feinstein's statement that she thought the White House was behind them. Well, DiFi is now walking them back.


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posted by DrewM. at 05:42 PM

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