HUFFINGTON (8/18/05): Directly contradicting this position is a former Timesman with impeccable journalistic credentials. Bill Kovach, the former Times Washington bureau chief, former curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, and founding director of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, has publicly voiced what many in and around the paper are saying privately.We regard Sulzberger as a dim bulb. (Link below.) But could anything make less sense than that puzzling statement by Kovach? In our view, its sad when dim-bulb thinking like this begins to define the liberal web. Due to their industry from the mid-60s onward, pseudo-conservatives have a forty-year head start in the nations potent spin wars. Progressives need to be smarter, much smarter. We cant get there praising nonsense like this.
When I was chief of the [NYT] bureau in Washington, he told Sidney Blumenthal, we laid down a rule to the reporters that when they wanted to establish anonymity they had to lay out ground rules that if anything the source said was damaging, false or damaged the credibility of the newspaper we would identify them. If a man damages your credibility, why not lay the blame where it belongs? Whoever was leaking that information to Novak, Cooper or Judy Miller was doing it with malice aforethought, trying to set up a deceptive circumstance. That would invalidate any promise of confidentiality. You wouldn't protect a source for telling lies or using you to mislead your audience. That changes everything. Any reporter that puts themselves or a news organization in that position is making a big mistake.
Apparently, Sulzberger is furious with Kovach for these remarks.
First question: Does anyone know what Kovach means in that first high-lighted statement? Its slightly odd when he says hed out a source if the source said something false; after all, people say things in good faith all the time that turn out to be false in some way. If you announced that youd out a source for that reason, youd likely have very few sources. But at least that part of his statement makes sense; what does Kovach mean when he says that hed out a source if anything the source said was damaging? Here at THE HOWLER, we dont have the slightest idea—and, most likely, neither do you. But so what? Kovach is taking an anti-Miller line—and on the liberal web, that means we must cheer.
But Kovachs second highlighted statement is much, much harder to parse. Whoever was leaking that information to Novak, Cooper or Judy Miller was doing it with malice aforethought, trying to set up a deceptive circumstance, he says. We have no idea what a deceptive circumstance is—although the phrase feels good to liberals—but shortly thereafter, Kovach seems to say that the people who spoke to Novak/Cooper/Miller were telling lies or using [them] to mislead [their] audience. But what were the lies involved here? And who exactly was being misled? For example, heres what Cooper wrote in Time. It seems to us its essentially accurate:
COOPER (7/17/03): [S]ome government officials have noted to TIME in interviews (as well as to syndicated columnist Robert Novak) that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These officials have suggested that she was involved in her husband's being dispatched to Niger to investigate reports that Saddam Hussein's government had sought to purchase large quantities of uranium ore, sometimes referred to as yellow cake, which is used to build nuclear devices.Where are the lies? Who was misled? In fact, Plame was a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And she was involved in her husband's being dispatched to Niger—a fact that wasnt publicly known at the time these officials told it to Cooper. As far as we know, Plames involvement was fairly minor (although we wouldnt simply assume that we have been told the full truth on this matter)—but Coopers statements were perfectly accurate. So who exactly was telling him lies? For liberals, it feels very good to make this claim—but the claim doesnt seem to make sense.
And then, of course, the crowning absurdity. Specifically, Huffington is writing about what unnamed sources said to Judith Miller. But uh-oh! At this time, we dont know what Miller was or wasnt told by her sources! Indeed, Fitzgerald has Millers keister in jail because he wants the answer to that. But so what? Even though we dont even know what Miller was told, we rush to denounce the statements as lies. It feels real good to make such a claim—and feel-good is becoming the middle name of a silly, weak-willed liberal web.
For the record, Kovachs statement made a bit more logical sense when it was originally made in July—before Arianna decided to doctor it, as she did in yesterdays post. Yep! As she transcribed what Kovach had said, Arianna ran two parts of his statement together and—much more significantly—she simply omitted one whole sentence, a key part of his original statement. That missing sentence improved Kovachs logic—but at this point, its hard to defend as a simple matter of fact. (Perhaps thats why Arianna dropped it.) At any rate, here is Kovachs original statement, as recorded by Sidney Blumenthal in Salon. We highlight the disappeared sentence:
BLUMENTHAL (7/17/05): In the best-case scenario for Miller, Bill Kovach believes that any pledge she may have made to a source should be invalid...He describes the internal policy set within the [New York] Times on sources. "By the 1980s, we decided that we had to set some limits because reporters had been misled and the credibility of the news reports had been damaged by misleading sources. When I was chief of the bureau in Washington, we laid down a rule to the reporters that when they wanted to establish anonymity they had to lay out ground rules that if anything the source said was damaging, false or damaged the credibility of the newspaper we would identify them."Why was Kovach talking about lies? In his original statement to Blumenthal, he was discussing a claim that would almost surely be wrong—a claim that Plame had somehow sent Wilson to Niger. Plame wouldnt have the authority to do that, Kovach said, almost surely correctly. According to Kovach, [w]hoever was leaking that information to Novak, Cooper or Judy Miller was doing it with malice aforethought. But uh-oh! As weve seen, Cooper didnt report such a claim—and Novak didnt report this claim either. And, of course, we have no idea what was actually said to Miller. But so what? Increasingly, the liberal web is in love with childish games, and is ready to thrill to such logic.
In the Plame matter, Kovach sees no obligation of the reporters to false sources. "If a man damages your credibility, why not lay the blame where it belongs? If Plame were an operative, she wouldn't have the authority to send someone. Whoever was leaking that information to Novak, Cooper or Judy Miller was doing it with malice aforethought, trying to set up a deceptive circumstance. That would invalidate any promise of confidentiality. You wouldn't protect a source for telling lies or using you to mislead your audience. That changes everything. Any reporter that puts themselves or a news organization in that position is making a big mistake."
For the record, this is how liberals and progressives got into our current political mess in the first place. We trusted in our liberal elites, failing to see how dim, how dopy, how inane they really were. And our liberal elites played school-girl games throughout the mainstream press corps endless war against Clinton and Gore. How stupid were our leaders willing to be? Believe it or not, here is the dim, repulsive chatter of one such bold leader in November 1999. For the record, she was selling out your interests on Rivera Live when she made these ridiculous statements. She was reciting one of the days Standard Scripts—Al Gore paid Naomi Wolf too much money—and, even as Al Franken tried to show how inane her cant really was, she began to play another brain-dead game. She began to count Gores troubling buttons:
RIVERA (11/9/99): And Naomi Wolf—you want to offer some wisdom before I go to the panel?Incredible. For the record, that is the mainstream clownishness, sustained for two years, that put George W. Bush in the White House. Now Arianna brings her weak-minded foolishness to the liberal web—and we liberals lap it up. Its why we have a tattoo on our foreheads. Can you read what it says there? Born Losers!
FRANKEN: I think this [flap] might be overblown. I mean, Arianna—I think you can go to Arianna on this. Arianna, how much did Michael—
RIVERA: An alpha female.
FRANKEN: How much did Michael [Huffington] pay you to be his consultant in '94?
HUFFINGTON: Not enough. Not enough. But the difference is—the difference, Al, is that he didn't hide it. You see, the thing about Gore that I think has been the most damaging has been the fact that they tried to hide it, that they tried to run her through consultant firms and not to be up front about the fact that they were paying $15,000 a month, more than the vice president makes, to get advice on obscure things and things that are rather trivial.
FRANKEN: How much do some—how much does someone like Bob Shrum get a month, do you have any idea? How much did—
HUFFINGTON: I don't know. He's your friend. Why don't you call him and ask?
FRANKEN: How much did you pay Ed Rollins—did your husband pay Ed Rollins?
HUFFINGTON: You see, I think when you are talking about campaign managers, that's a very different story. When you are talking about a consultant that you bring on to give opinions on how to dress and whether you're an alpha male and how do you become a beta male—frankly, you know, what is fascinating is that the way he's now dressing makes a lot of people feel disconnected from him. And there was this marvelous story in one of the New Hampshire papers saying, Nobody here—nobody here in Hanover, New Hampshire, wears tan suits with blue shirts. You know, it's just—and buttons—all four buttons! You know, it's not just--it's just not the way most American males dress.
BORN LOSERS ALL AROUND: Of course, Gore wasnt wearing four-button suits; that was just Arianna playing the fool, calling attention to her vast brilliance. Indeed, by the fall of 1999, three-button mens suits were so conventional that they were being advertised in full display ads—in the Wall Street Journal, no less! But so what? As they scrounged around for nonsensical things to attack in their ongoing War Against Gore, the press corps had begun to trash his three-button suits—indeed, Chris Matthews played weird sex games about the troubling number of buttons—and Arianna just spun things up, adding a fourth button to the tale so she could stand out from the rest of the clowns. And yes, Born Losers were all around as this lunacy sent Bush to the White House. Here was Geraldo himself, moments before Ariannas inane statement:
RIVERA (11/9/99): All right. Let me give you one more political item, and then we'll discuss it with our fine panel. The vice president dealing with a political hot potato of his own ever since Time magazine revealed that his campaign was paying the feminist author Naomi Wolf 15 grand a month as some kind of consultant. One Gore adviser said she was offering suggestions on wardrobe. Another source—source revealed she was pushing the theory that Gore is the beta male, who should be attacking Clinton, the alpha male. What no one in the Gore camp is talking about—Wolf's book, "Promiscuities," in which she argues that schools should teach students techniques of masturbation and oral sex.Except Wolfs book doesnt argue that schools should teach students techniques of masturbation and oral sex (link below). But so what? The hapless born losers of your liberal elite were busily pimping this garbage around, and now we squeal with childish delight when they bring their dumb-ass ways to the liberal web. This is why were in the hole were in—and when we continue to squeal for this leadership, this is why we self-ID as a hopeless gang of born losers.
IF IT DUCKS LIKE A DUCK: A caller asked about Jeff Gerth and Whitewater—and Sulzberger played dumb, like Gail Collins before him. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/10/01. Scroll to The Daily update.
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: With props to Franken for his resistance, those inane conversations, sustained for two years, do explain how Bush reached the White House. And of course, the flaming idiots who sent him there now play the fool as they battle his reign. But almost everything they said back then was bogus. Why not visit our incomparable archives to see how your liberal and mainstream elites put George Bush where he is?
While Gore paid Wolf $15K per month (a normal sum at that campaign level), John McCain was paying South Carolina race-man Richard Quinn $20K per month. Mathematicians assured us that this sum was higher. But how much yak came from the press about that? As if we even had to ask! See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/15/00 and 3/10/03.
Why did scribes insist on making gonzo statements about Wolf and oral sex? See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/3/03, for Tony Kornheisers explanation, via the alert Eric Alterman. (This was a sensational catch.) Prepare to writhe around in discomfort. This is how Bush reached the White House. (For the record, we worked with Tony at WTEM, and we flat-out love the guy. But he never should have answered when Alterman called—let alone provide an honest answer to the question he was asked.)
Chris Matthews counted Gores troubling buttons—and began to make strange remarks about sex. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/11/01 (scroll to Son of Susann) or again, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/10/03. By the way—have you ever seen a liberal journal report on Matthews decade of shame? No, you havent—and the fact that we liberals accept this from our leaders explains our tattoo. Were Born Losers.