Frontline: News War (Episode 1)

Judy Miller says she was only as good as her sources. That her sources mis-informed her, that she trusted them too much, trusted they wouldn’t mislead the the President. Knight-Ridder stood up as Clark Hoyt wrote that ‘nothing’ had changed in Iraq. They were no bigger threat now than they were 10-15 years ago. Eventually the Washington Post catches on and Walter Pincus writes that Iraq may have no WMD, that it was all wishful thinking on Saddam Hussein’s part. By the Summer of 2003 it was too late. It was obvious there was no WMD. Then Joe Wilson stood up, and recounted his role in the mess. The Vice Pres. wanted Niger followed-up on so the CIA sends Joe Wilson to follow-up. There was no link to Niger, nothing to substantiate the claim. So Joe Wilson steps forward to let people know that Bush 43 administration was stone-walling. The CIA took the fall for the Niger claim, saying they let that fact go in when they hadn’t meant to. Then they smeared Wilson’s wife, to punish him for his dissent. In doing so they may have broken some laws regarding classified information. So the Justice department has to go through the list of 11 point checklist, to determine whether a prosecution is in order.

WMD’s still weren’t found. Democrats in the Capitol wanted a special prosecutor, and John Ashcroft will step aside to let Patrick Fitzgerald investigate and prosecute. Matthew Cooper was told by Karl Rove that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent and may have authorized the Joe Wilson trip to Niger. The government depended on the journalists to keep the sources, the leakers identity secret and out of the articles. This is no Mark Felt, the third man at the FBI guidng Bob Woodward, it was the elite political advisor of the President who was performing damage control by leaking smears against Joe Wilson. Because the journalists wouldn’t reveal confidential sources, Scott Fitzgerald had to use a funny tactic that didn’t require the reporters to reveal sources, but they could still provide a deposition to the Grand Jury.

The Branzburg case went to the Supreme Court (many years ago) and stated there was no ‘confidentiality’ when it came to reporter and confidential sources, when a crime may be committed by the sources. What is the essential route that reporters have to investigate things for the public: “confidential sources”–William Safire. James Goodale was working at the NYTimes as the legal counsel to the paper. He moved to make sure every state had court cases that ruled in favor of confidentiality, and the reporter’s privilege of not having to reveal sources under subpeona. Judy Miller and Matt Cooper were being strong-armed by Patrick Fitzgerald, and the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Branzburg stands, there is no protection of journalists from a Grand Jury seeking testimony concerning confidential sources used in a story.

Then things get worse. Judy Miller goes to jail because she will not testify, and won’t give up her notes. Some speculated that she was trying to cover her inaccurate reporting on WMDs in the NYTimes. Then Bob Woodward discovered that he had learned it first from Richard Armitage the Deputy Secretary of State under Colin Powell. Bob Novak had also found this out from Richard Armitage. The whole thing, the brou-ha-ha at its core is hinged on Richard Armitage. Poor guy, probably didn’t know how much he had affected  if not initiated this whole mess.

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Author: carpetbomberz

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