I was listening to Tim Russert of Meet the Press talk to David Broder and a few other reporters about the Scooter Libby trial while feeding Little Toot lunch. While Washington is all aflutter, the rest of America hits the snooze button. The press finds it difficult to fathom that Americans don't care, but they really don't care.
Let's see, as far as any fair-minded person can tell, Washington D.C. is one big gossip-fest and Valerie Plame was the worst kept secret, it seems. She was so undercover she plunked her toothy, blond, be-speckled visage on Vanity Fair along with her dopey husband. It should worry everyone that this dapper fella negotiates anything for America. His pocket square would give the bad guys the giggles. Middle America just rolls their eyes. Super-secret spies our over-sized asses.
And then you have the superficial, self-important, easily lead, incurious, lazy national media worried about how far they've fallen. They kvetch about their perceived loss of respect. Bad news guys and gals, you didn't have much respect to lose. In addition, you press-types have used the First Amendment to cover for all sorts of nefarious behavior. You seem to believe you are above the law.
The press is so insulated, they forget that average Americans work every day and worry about running afoul of the law. Americans have no special protections. The press, rightly so, should have freedom of the press but that doesn't mean they have freedom to be a traitor, freedom to lie, freedom to distort, and freedom to cover for a crime.
The crime leads directly to a special prosecutor. Special prosecutor: that government created beast with no restraint and unfettered authority. How's it feel to be on the receiving end of an unchained pit bull? Scary. Sure, as shootin'.
MR. RUSSERT: It is different when you can’t finish your sentence or complete your thought, when you’re restricted to yes-no answers. And it is uncomfortable.But isn't that exactly what Libby is being tried for a "misremembered conversation"? Now imagine how it feels being on the receiving end of that pit bull, being wrongfully charged AND the press passes judgment on your guilt before the charges are even brought. Does it feel bad? I'll answer for you: It feels terrible.
MS. IFILL: Well, you know, the journalists I talked to are having sort, sort of a collective nervous breakdown about this. We watch you testify, we watch Judy Miller and Matt Cooper and whoever else we end up seeing before this trial is over, and we think, “Well, could my bad handwriting now be part of a, a court trial. Or could my misremembered conversation now make me liable—a person who lies?”
Why, it feels like being a Duke Lacrosse Player.
Here's the thing, though, the Duke Lacrosse Players are innocent. Is the press innocent in the Scooter Libby trial? The guys on Russert's show sure want to believe that. It's the White House's fault for manipulating the press, said David Broder. How's that for passing the buck? Please.
MR. BRODER: Well, it hurts. And it hurts because I think it opens up something that has been worrisome, I think, to many of us in the press, which is the way in which relationships between reporters and government officials can be used by those government officials to plant stories, in effect, that are damaging to their political enemies using the reporters, in effect, to carry out their political mission. And that’s different from cultivating a source to get information that’s of value to you as a journalist. Here you are being used by the government official to carry out their political work.And Howard Kurtz won't let go of the fact that this is a trial about nothing. It's time he be called as a witness, I do believe--just to get a feel for the whole thing.
MR. SIMON: No, I think the public has a healthy realism about how the press operates. But I also have to say, this is a nutty trial that nobody except the people involved in it and the people covering it care about. Once again we have a prosecutor who can’t an indictment for the real crime—leaking the identity of a CIA agent—so he goes instead for the crime of, well, people didn’t tell him the complete truth when they talked to him. I mean, there’s no underlying crime here that anyone has been indicted for. This is just a show trial. And I’ve got to say, even if he’s convicted—and he may not be—but even if he’s convicted, would any judge send to prison a guy named Scooter? He wouldn’t last 48 hours.Um, Mr. Kurtz, no one but you progressive, dogma-holding press believe this is what the trial is about. This is what they wanted the trial to be about. No one in America thinks that the Scooter Libby's trial is about pre-war intelligence.
MR. RUSSERT: We...
MR. KURTZ: But, Roger, it’s a show trial that has put the spotlight on the Bush administration’s attempt to make a case about pre-war intelligence that turned out not to be true. That matters.
So which way is it MSM? Are you a bunch of easily lead, narrative-driven, incurious, lazy, stupid, sheep working as mouthpieces for the administration or some other government leader outside or in? Or, are you smarter than everyone, incisive, knowledgeable, hard-charging, can't be bought, objective, fair and balanced, and possess unimpeachable character? It's pretty hard to be both, don't you think?
Perhaps America really doesn't care about your sad, pathetic plight because they believe the whole mess in Washington deserves each other. Oh and then there's this: Fitzgerald is just one more guy in a long line of DA's, prosecutors, and lawyers generally, that have too much power. The whole trial is bogus. Who can remember what they say on a given day when they've talked to fifty people? This is much ado about nothing, but the press just wouldn't let it go. America's national security was at stake, came the somber cries from the same people who revealed serious state secrets like the NSA and audio surveillance. This was to be a "gotcha!" moment for the President. Turns out it's a "gotcha!" moment for the press. Oops! Once again, a Martha Stewart sin is being prosecuted like it's the end of the world.
Isn't that what the press wanted?