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USA Today hasn't run a news story about the controversy involving White House senior adviser Karl Rove and outed CIA operative Valerie Plame since July 19. A July 25 guest column and some letters to the editor have contained the only mentions of Rove and Plame in the paper during that time. As we noted last week, USA Today has mentioned Rove in other contexts -- for example, when he was lampooned in the comic strip Doonesbury. But not a single mention of the fact that two Rove aides recently appeared before the grand jury investigating Plame's outing. Not a single mention of the recently revealed fact that Bush chief of staff Andrew Card was given 12 hours advance notice of the beginning of the Justice Department's investigation into the matter. And, predictably, no mention of the nondisclosure form Rove would have had to sign in order to gain access to classified information.
USA Today's silence on the Plame investigation may be more complete than most, but the paper isn't alone in giving the story short shrift. The Washington Post, for example, has given the matter only the most cursory of mentions since its last substantive article ran on July 27.
CNN contributor Bob Novak, a central figure in the investigation into the outing of Valerie Plame, stormed off the CNN set during a live broadcast, shortly before anchor Ed Henry was to ask Novak about the Plame matter.
Novak and fellow contributor James Carville were discussing Rep. Katherine Harris's (R-FL) Senate ambitions when Novak said "Just let me finish what I'm going to say, James, please. I know you hate to hear me." In response, Carville said of Novak: "He's gotta show these right-wingers that he's got backbone, you know. The Wall Street Journal editorial page is watching you. Show 'em you're tough."
At that point, Novak seemed to take leave of his senses, blurting "Well, I think that's ullbay itshay [Pig Latin for a certain barnyard epithet; we didn't want this item to trip anyone's spam filter], and I hate that" -- then instructing Henry to "Just let it go." He then abruptly stood up, tore off his microphone and walked off, leaving Henry and Carville alone to continue the live broadcast. Henry later apologized for Novak's unplanned departure, adding, "I had told him in advance that we were going to ask him about the CIA leak case. He was not here for me to be able to ask him about that. Hopefully, we'll be able to ask him about that in the future."
A CNN spokesperson later announced that Novak has been "asked" to "take some time off."
If Novak's outburst and early departure were due to the pressure he is apparently under in the Plame matter -- and the knowledge that Henry was going to ask about it -- it wouldn't be the first time the controversy has affected his television appearances. During a July 26 appearance on CNN's Inside Politics, Novak told host Candy Crowley that the Plame matter "is the reason I haven't been on television very much lately" -- a comment that now seems prescient.
During a June 29 Inside Politics segment with Ed Henry, Novak's answers to questions about the Plame investigation grew increasingly testy; below are some of his comments during the interview:
- "My lawyer said I cannot answer any specific questions about this case until it is resolved, which I hope is very soon."
- "I can't answer any questions about this case at all."
- "Well, that's what I can't reveal until this case is finished."
- "Well, they [Judith Miller, who is in jail, and Matthew Cooper, who is not] are not going to jail because of me. Whether I answer your questions or not, it has nothing to do with that. That's very ridiculous to think that I am the cause of their going to jail. I don't think they should be going to jail."
- "Ed, you don't know anything about the case. ... And unfortunately, as somebody who likes to write, I'd like to say a lot about the case, but because of my attorney's advice, I can't."
Novak's outburst on CNN wasn't his only bizarre behavior this week; the week began with a Novak column in which he flatly contradicted his own previous reporting. On August 1, Novak claimed that "unanimous Senate Intelligence Committee report ... said that Wilson's wife 'suggested him for the trip.'" Not only is that not true, Novak knows it isn't true -- or at least he did in July 2004, when he wrote that Committee Democrats didn't agree "to a conclusion that former diplomat Joseph Wilson was suggested for a mission to Niger by his CIA employee wife."
That's just one of many times Novak has contradicted himself on the Plame matter; Media Matters has more.
Given that Novak is deeply entangled in the Plame investigation and that he has taken to making inaccurate claims about the matter -- even contradicting his own previous reports -- perhaps the newspapers that run his Plame columns should first check to see if they are true before passing misinformation on to their readers.
See also: Eric Alterman on Novak.
Responding to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's (R-TN) announcement that he now supports expanding federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, Focus on the Family founder and chairman James C. Dobson used his radio show to equate Frist's position with support for the sickening Nazi "experiments" conducted on prisoners in concentration camps:
DOBSON: You know, the thing that means so much to me here on this this issue [embryonic stem cell research] is that people talk about the potential for good that can come from destroying these little embryos and how we might be able to solve the problem of juvenile diabetes. There's no indication yet that they're gonna do that, but people say that, or spinal cord injuries or such things. But I have to ask this question: In World War II, the Nazis experimented on human beings in horrible ways in the concentration camps, and I imagine, if you wanted to take the time to read about it, there would have been some discoveries there that benefited mankind. You know, if you take a utilitarian approach, that if something results in good, then it is good. But that's obviously not true. We condemn what the Nazis did because there are some things that we always could do but we haven't done, because science always has to be guided by ethics and by morality. And you remove ethics and morality, and you get what happened in Nazi Germany. That's why to Senator [Senate Majority Leader Bill] Frist [R-TN] and the others who are saying, "Look what may be accomplished." Yeah, but there's another issue, there's a higher order of ethics here.
According to a July CBS News poll, 56 percent of Americans approve of "medical research using embryonic stem cells," while only 30 percent disapprove. Every other recent poll has also shown more support than opposition for such research. But to Dobson, the majority of the American people have taken a position equivalent to supporting Josef Mengele's brutal torture.
One day after Focus on the Family founder and chairman James C. Dobson compared embryonic stem cell research to Nazi medical experiments, White House domestic policy adviser Claude Allen appeared on Dobson's radio program and echoed Dobson's opposition to stem cell research without mentioning -- much less repudiating -- his reference to Nazi atrocities.
Allen also echoed Dobson's attack on Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), which continued for a second day in a row. Frist announced on July 29 that he now supports expanding federal funding for embryonic stem cell research beyond the restrictions currently imposed by the Bush administration.
On Tuesday, Rush Limbaugh attacked Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett, accusing the Marine of "trying to hide behind a military uniform" and claiming that Hackett served in Iraq simply to "pad the resumé."
What did Hackett do to draw Limbaugh's ire? He had the audacity to run for Congress as a Democrat.
Limbaugh, of course, knows something about "hiding" and during a time of war; he avoided serving in Vietnam by hiding behind an "inoperable pilonidal cyst."
Also this week, Limbaugh attacked the news media for "keeping a tally" of U.S. fatalities in Iraq, calling it "sick." Limbaugh might want to give Don Rumsfeld a call to express his displeasure; the Department of Defense regularly releases statistics on deaths in Iraq. We wonder, though: Does Limbaugh really think it would be better if nobody kept track of how many people have died in combat?
Displaying the blithe indifference to truth we've come to expect, Ann Coulter claimed this week that "a majority of Hispanics voted in favor of" Proposition 187, the 1994 California ballot initiative intended to prevent illegal immigrants in the United States from receiving benefits or public services."
Coulter makes a great point -- if by "a majority of Hispanics voted in favor," she meant "73 percent of Hispanics voted against" Prop. 187.
Also this week, a Tucson Weekly column indicates that Coulter may have plagiarized a recent column, as well as earlier writings. This is hard to believe; if she's getting "help" with her columns, shouldn't they make more sense than they do?