NBC's Today featured numerous conservatives to discuss the Plame investigation, very few progressives

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

In recent days, NBC's Today has featured a number of conservative guests commenting on the investigation into the alleged leak of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity, but very few progressives. Since October 16, when reporter Judith Miller recounted her grand jury testimony in The New York Times, seven conservative guests have appeared on Today and have been asked to comment on the investigation, several of whom have made false statements about the case in other news outlets. By contrast, during this time, the show featured one journalist and only two progressives or Democrats -- Democratic political strategist James Carville and Air America Radio host Al Franken. Moreover, Franken was asked only one question about the leak investigation, and Carville was paired with a conservative. The other conservative guests appeared on their own.

  • October 17: Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, over the course of an interview with co-anchor Matt Lauer, answered one question about the effects of Plame investigation on the White House.
  • October 18: Co-anchor Katie Couric interviewed two Bush administration figures -- undersecretary of state for public diplomacy Karen Hughes and Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney -- but failed to press either of them on the CIA leak investigation. Couric asked Hughes: "I know you're not at liberty to talk about the investigation into the CIA leak, but clearly with [White House senior adviser] Karl Rove testifying before the grand jury and [I. Lewis] "Scooter" Libby [Cheney's chief of staff] as well, how concerned is the White House about the possibility of indictments?" In a separate interview, Couric asked Lynne Cheney: "Let me ask you really quickly about what's going on -- what's making history right now, and obviously there's this investigation into the CIA leak. And I know you're not at liberty to discuss it. But John Tierney in The New York Times wrote about the fact that this is really just hardball politics at work. Do you think that's the case, that it's more of a political thing that's going on rather than a legal issue?" As Media Matters for America noted, by prefacing her inquiries in this way, Couric was echoing White House officials' claims that they cannot comment on an ongoing investigation -- even though several Bush administration officials have at times commented -- and essentially inviting Hughes and Cheney not to answer substantively.
  • October 20: Fox News host Bill O'Reilly answered a number of Couric's questions regarding the investigation.
  • October 24: NBC host Tim Russert answered several questions about the Plame affair.
  • October 25: Democratic political strategist James Carville and Air America Radio host Al Franken, in separate segments, commented on the CIA leak controversy. Carville, however, appeared alongside conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. Franken appeared on the show to promote his newly released book, The Truth (With Jokes) (Dutton, 2005) and was asked one question by Lauer concerning the investigation.
  • October 26: Featured an interview devoted solely to the Plame investigation with MSNBC host and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough.
  • October 27: Featured an interview with right-wing pundit Ann Coulter, of which roughly half was devoted to the leak controversy. Her appearance on Today followed an October 26 appearance on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, in which Coulter repeated the false claim that Plame's neighbors knew of her CIA status.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Stories/Interests
CIA Leak Investigation
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