Hume misquoted Mitchell in defense of Fox contributor under fire for Plame claim

››› ››› ROB MORLINO

On the November 8 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Washington managing editor Brit Hume misquoted NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell, attributing to her the claim that CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity was an "open secret." Hume's misrepresentation of Mitchell's comments in an October 2003 interview on CNBC served to corroborate a claim made by Fox News contributor ret. Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely. In fact, Mitchell's full quote, which Hume did not read, makes it clear that she was referring to reporters actively looking into a February 2002 trip to Niger by Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, and not, as Hume suggested, all reporters covering the intelligence community.

Vallely recently claimed in a series of inconsistent statements that Wilson told him in 2002, when both appeared on the Fox News Channel -- long before syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak outed Plame in his July 14, 2003, column -- that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. The right-wing news website WorldNetDaily.com and ABC Radio Networks host John Batchelor reported evolving variations of this claim, and Vallely offered his own version on the November 7 edition of The Sean Hannity Show. After WorldNetDaily posted a story on Vallely's claims on November 5, Wilson's attorney, Christopher Wolf, contacted Vallely and WorldNetDaily, stating that Vallely's claims were untrue and demanding a retraction.

Wilson's attorney also mistakenly forwarded to WorldNetDaily an email between himself and Wilson, in which Wilson said, "[Vallely's claim] is a bald faced lie. Can we sue?"

On the November 8 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Hume reported that Vallely was demanding that Wilson apologize for calling him a liar and explained the email snafu. At the end of the report, Hume added, "General Vallely, by the way, isn't the first to call Valerie Plame's job at the CIA an open secret. In 2003, NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell said Plame's CIA job had been, quote, 'widely known among those of us who cover the intelligence community,' end quote."

Hume was quoting from an October 3, 2003, appearance on CNBC's Capital Report. Host Alan Murray asked Mitchell "how widely known it was in Washington that Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA?" Mitchell responded, "It was widely known among those of us who cover the intelligence community and who were actively engaged in trying to track down who among the foreign service community was the envoy to Niger. So a number of us began to pick up on that. But frankly I wasn't aware of her actual role at the CIA and the fact that she had a covert role involving weapons of mass destruction, not until Bob Novak wrote it."

Mitchell was one of more than two dozen journalists and news organizations listed in a federal grand jury subpoena of White House records on contacts administration officials may have had with reporters who wrote about Wilson or Plame, according to a March 6, 2004, article in Newsday.

From the November 8 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:

HUME: Retired General and Fox News senior military analyst Paul Vallely is calling on former ambassador Joseph Wilson to apologize for calling Vallely a liar, this after Vallely said that Wilson had told him his wife worked for the CIA long before her work was mentioned in a Robert Novak column.

Wilson's lawyers have demanded a retraction from Vallely and apparently accidentally sent him an email from Wilson to his attorneys, in which Wilson called the general's claims "a bald-face lie" and asked, quote, "Can we sue?"

General Vallely, by the way, isn't the first to call Valerie Plame's job at the CIA an open secret. In 2003, NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell said Plame's CIA job had been, quote, "widely known among those of us who cover the intelligence community," end quote.

From the October 3, 2003, edition of CNBC's Capital Report:

MURRAY: Do we have any idea how widely known it was in Washington that Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA?

MITCHELL: It was widely known among those of us who cover the intelligence community and who were actively engaged in trying to track down who among the foreign service community was the envoy to Niger. So a number of us began to pick up on that. But frankly, I wasn't aware of her actual role at the CIA and the fact that she had a covert role involving weapons of mass destruction, not until Bob Novak wrote it.

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