Rather than presenting the facts about President Bush's past statements on the fate of administration officials found to have leaked the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame, Fox News chief White House correspondent Carl Cameron claimed that Bush "never actually said the word 'fired.' " In fact, both Bush and White House press secretary Scott McClellan have clearly indicated that if found, the leaker would be fired. But Cameron attributed to "reporters and Democrats" suggestions that senior White House adviser Karl Rove could be fired for his role in outing Plame.
Bush at a June 10, 2004, press conference after the G8 summit:
Q: Given recent developments in the CIA leak case, particularly Vice President [Dick] Cheney's discussions with the investigators, do you still stand by what you said several months ago, a suggestion that it might be difficult to identify anybody who leaked the agent's name?
BUSH: That's up to --
Q: And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so?
BUSH: Yes. And that's up to the U.S. attorney to find the facts.
McClellan at a September 29, 2003, press briefing:
McCLELLAN: The president has set high standards, the highest of standards for people in his administration. He's made it very clear to people in his administration that he expects them to adhere to the highest standards of conduct. If anyone in this administration was involved in it [the leaking of Plame's identity], they would no longer be in this administration.
Q: You continue to talk about the severity of this and if anyone has any information they should go forward to the Justice Department. But can you tell us, since it's so severe, would someone or a group of persons, lose their job in the White House?
McCLELLAN: At a minimum.
Q: At a minimum?
McCLELLAN: At a minimum.
From the July 11 edition of Fox News' Special Report With Brit Hume:
CAMERON: Early on in the leak's probe, the president himself said those responsible would be held accountable.
BUSH (clip): If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.
CAMERON: The president never actually said the word "fired," but that is what some reporters and Democrats seemed to expect.
SENATE MINORITY LEADER HARRY REID [D-NV] (clip): The White House promised, if anyone was involved in the Valerie Plame affair, they would no longer be in this administration, his administration. I trust they will follow through on this pledge.
CAMERON: Democrats have already begun to call for Rove's political scalp. Some want him fired, others want him suspended with his security clearances revoked. And still others are calling for congressional hearings with Rove to testify in person.