TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2003
TOUGH GUYS DEMISE: If you wanted to see Icon Condi pushed, you had to watch Fox this past Sunday. On Fox News Sunday, Tony Snow and Brit Hume pushed the untouchable Ricepushed her hard about the report that someone inside the Bush Admin had outed Joe Wilsons wife. Indeed, the pair of scribes played bad cop/bad cop; first Hume pushed, then Snow pushed harder. Eventually, Snow elicited the most striking statement from Rice. He repeatedly asked how Bushmen reacted when this story appeared in July. Were White House officials upset by the story? Finally, Icon Condi said this:
SNOW: But there was nobody at the White House at the time who was saying, Oh, weve got a problem here?Weird, isnt it? Back in July, Bob Novak reported that senior officials had leaked a CIA operatives name. A mini-flap blew up in the press. And Rice couldnt recall any White House official voicing a word of concern.
Yes, Snow and Hume pushed hard this day. As Josh Marshall did in a Monday post, well show you their questions in full:
HUME: Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was asked to inquire in Africa about what Saddam Hussein might have been doing there in terms of acquiring nuclear materials, ended up with his wifes name in the paper as a CIA person. There are now suggestions that the name and her identity and her CIA work had been revealed by the White House. What do you know about that?Snow and Rice kept pushing and poking. They behaved much as journalists should.
Yep! Thats the way the pair of scribes workedon Fox. But if you didnt watch Hume and Snow, you didnt see similar questioning. Over at Meet the Press, for example, a famous tough guy hid in the weeds. He showed little interest in this report. Here was his complete interrogation:
TIM RUSSERT: Ambassador Joe Wilson was sent over to Niger by the CIA to look into this whole matter of selling uranium to Iraq. He came back with a report which was given to the administration. Then there was an article by columnist Robert Novak which cited two administration sources and identified Ambassador Wilsons wife by name. She was an undercover agent at the CIA. There is now an investigation. The CIA has requested the Justice Department to look into this. Its a crime to identify an undercover agent. And in this article in todays Washington Post, a senior administration official said that White House officials called six reporters to identify, to out, if you will, Joe Wilsons wife. What can you tell us about that?That was it! No, Bush wouldnt question his staff, Rice said. And Russert moved to the next topic.
Amazing, isnt it, to see the difference between Fox and Meet the Press? At Fox, two conservatives were willing to push and prod about the emerging story. At NBC, by notable contrast, a tough-talker posed two perfunctory questions, then very tamely moved on. But Russerts weak questions were only one part of a woeful performance with Rice this past Sunday. The fearless tormentor of Candidate Gore rolled over before the Bush White House again. Here at THE HOWLER, we found ourselves wondering: Is it time for Tim Russert to leave?
TOMORROW: More of his Tim-orous questioning
BACK TO NORMAL: By last evenings Special Report, order had been restored at Fox. The all-stars spun and respun, then tortured the facts, trying to prove that the story was worthless. According to the all-star panel, Wilsons wife was an analyst, not an operative; therefore, no crime had occurred. (No one explained why Tenetwho surely understands his employees statushad referred the case to Justice.) And no one leaked anything to Novak, Fred Barnes kept insisting. Freds reasoning? Novak called them, not vice versa! The whole reason for the flap, Mort Kondracke assured, obviously is that the Democrats have been trying to make the 16-word issue, which this is connected to, from the presidents State of the Union message, into Watergate. Fox News viewers were put at ease as their minders assured them: All is well.
CHAIT COULDNT WAIT: Yes, were eager to return to our incomparable Trashing Bush-bashing series. But for now, to see fakery and the faking fakers who provide it, be sure to read David Brooks today in the New York Times. Brooks becomes the ten millionth con to lament all this deeply disturbing Bush-hating, which he makes equivalent to the past decades trashing of Clinton. (I didnt do enough then, Brooks laments. Quoting Tonto: No sh*t, kemosabe!) Brooksfaking very hardregrets the well-researched Ivins/Dubose book, Shrub, as it if were somehow equivalent to those Clinton murder lists we all saw on TV (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/26/03). And one more key point: Completely predictably, Brooks makes a tool out of Jonathan Chait, who ran to hand his head to the cons with last weeks ill-advised New Republic piece. In fact, Chaits the most popular good guy in town for his gift to conservative spinners. Conservative spinners wanted to say that these liberals crazily hate George Bush. Chait couldnt wait to oblige them.
Chait begins his piece in a merry way. I hate President George W. Bush, he proclaims. There, I said it. Thats right, readersChait has said it. And so will every conservative spinner from now until Kingdom Come. Where on earth do we get these lads, who run to surrender your interests to men? Conservative spinners prayed for this column. Chait couldnt wait to provide it.