What Scooter Libby did was a serious, insidiuous, anti-democratic control of information, and WaPo itself continues to ignore political corruption in exchange for Access Journalism.
Special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald has made it clearer than ever that he was hot on the trail of a coordinated campaign to out CIA agent Valerie Plame until that line of investigation was cut off by the repeated lies from Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.The Scooter Libby trial disclosed what the press and administration already know: for this administration, a critical part of its media dis-information campaign includes controlling the timing of press reports. If they can't stop a story before it publishes, the next best thing is controlling when a story publishes.
The Post is absolutley giddy when it reports on how the NYT and Judith Martin were involved in this game, but silent on it's own failure to cover corruption for its own Access Journalism. In other words, politicians don't have to schedule a "Saturday night Massacre." The Post will schedule it for them.
WAPO: "With a candor that is frowned upon at the White House, explained Cheney's former top press assistant," Cathie Martin, explained how important it was to influence timing of news reports critical of politicians.
"Fewer people pay attention to it later on Friday," Martin testified. "And in our view, fewer people are paying attention on Saturday, when it's reported."Examples include not only Bob Woodward's involvement in keeping the cover up going in Plamegate, on black hole prisons, and the Ford interview criticizing Bush. They include the Post's baseball buddy, Tom Davis.
- The first of several Post stories by Scott Higham and Robert O'Harrow on Tom Davis and his own campaign finance scandal followed this formula. It ran on Friday, July 28, 2006 before the July 4th weekend. Washington, DC was empty by then, and most holiday travelers were on the road. Tom Davis couldn't have asked for better scheduling if he had selected the date himself.
- Because it's customary to complete a series before running the first article, the following articles in this entire series should have been written by that July date. Nevertheless, the next article in the series would not run until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. During those 4 months, his election was over. Congress had recessed, again, the city was empty, and most holiday travelers were going through airport security. Davis must have wondered how this good fortune could continue.
- But it did last last. The third installment did not run until almost two weeks later, and on a Saturday. Saturday is one of the lowest circulation days for most newspapers.
These aren't neo-cons who are targeted by the administration. It's reputable journalists who seem otherwise credible. They fall for flattery.
At Libby's trial, Judith Miller's testimony showed how the administration and the press combine forces for access journalism:
In a steady but slightly nervous voice, Miller described how her relationship with Libby began: with a bit of flattery [of her writing].... Miller recalled Libby saying that "he liked my reporting ..."
"You look like a lawyer to me, honey." Taxi's Louie DePalma (Danny DeVito) on the pick up line he uses in a bar he knows where women go after they've learned they flunked the Bar exam.
When she "expressed a desire" for regular conversations, Libby said "he would prefer not to see his name in print," Miller said. "We could continue meeting as long as I would identify him as an administration official or senior administration official." She readily agreed.
So Libby would combat these leaks by leaking to Miller, she explained in a tone that indicated this was the most natural thing in the world.