Cheney with Bush; McClellan spinning; Plame & husband.
Where are the Headlines?
Former Bush press secretary Scott McClellan accused George W. Bush and Dick Cheney of deceiving the public about a devastating blow to the national security and safety of United States. The revelation concerns the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity as one of the government’s top intelligence agents. Revealed in the Chicago Sun Times on July 14, 2003, this breach of national security was the topic of intense coverage in the mainstream print and television news media.
This deliberate leak abruptly ended Plame’s intelligence activities, her career, and placed Plame and her contacts in serious jeopardy.
The charge appeared in an excerpt from McClellan’s upcoming book “Inside the Bush White House and What’s Wrong with Washington.” Publication is set for April 2008. The critical passage was released on Tuesday Nov. 20. It described a conspiracy to deceive the public by Bush and Cheney, which included White House chief of staff Andrew Card, Scooter Libby, and Karl Rove.
Valerie Plame was a top CIA agent, one of just a few to hold the distinction as an agent with non-official cover (NOC). These advanced intelligence professionals operate with assumed identities. Plame was cloaked as an energy consultant with the firm of Brewster Jennings and Associates. Her role in the CIA’s Counterproliferation Division was to identify and track the international black market of nuclear weapons intended for use against citizens of the United States.
In a brief passage from the upcoming book, McClellan comments on his 2003 denial of charges that Karl Rove and “Scooter” Libby were involved in the leak of Plame’s identity:
“The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.
“There was one problem. It was not true.
“I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President’s chief of staff, and the President himself.” Public Affairs (McClellan’s Publisher) Web Site
Where are the Headlines?
White House involvement in compromising a top intelligence agent was a matter of great concern in 2003. Why the indifference in 2007?
The response of the mainstream media has been barely noticeable. The following searches of Google and Yahoo “news” make this perfectly clear.
A Yahoo News search for “top story” using “McClellan” produced just nine articles. Three were from the Boston Globe, four from local television web sites, two from AlterNet, an alternative, left leaning web site, and one from “Real Time Traders,” a Dow Jones financial news service. Of the mainstream media, just one newspaper, the Boston Globe, and only four television stations saw this as ‘top story” from 12:00 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20 through 3:00 a.m. EST Friday, the 23rd (the timing for all the searches mentioned in this article).
A “News” search for “McClellan” anywhere in any article on both Google and Yahoo produced similar totals but a different frequency for web hits. The meta-search engine called “Dogpile” was used as a basis to determine the actual number of unduplicated stories.
How astounding that these searches produced so few hits. Didn’t the press secretary just accuse Bush, Cheney, Card, Rove, and Libby of collective action to conceal the truth, i.e., a conspiracy? Didn’t the concealed truth concern a major intelligence operation designed to keep us from getting nuked? If this doesn’t rate intensive coverage and comment, what does?
Google and Yahoo searches by media type. “Dogpile” is a meta search
service that provides unduplicated results. It is closest to a true total for stories.
News sites on the web had the most consistent reporting and commentary on this story. The Huffington Post had at least eight articles. BuzzFlash, OpEdNews, and CLG also made their presence known. The ideologically androgynous Slate was cautious, however. John Dickerson parsed McClellan’s words too tightly in “The Press Dog that Didn’t Bark.” He said, “Scott McClellan has offered no bombshells – yet.” What would count as bombshell? Maybe McClellan needed audio or video tapes to satisfy Slate. Of all the stories, mainstream or alternative, the Associated Press was right on target with “Former press secretary accuses Bush, Cheney of deceiving public about CIA leak case.”
The story of the McClellan bombshell is that there is no story being told by the mainstream media. Here’s a partial explanation. Jack McElroy, editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel, shared his response to a reader inquiry. The reader wanted to know why the paper wasn’t covering McClellan’s revelation. McElroy quoted his response in an editorial entitled “Did We Bury a Bush Expose?”
A local newspaper can rarely provide national information that interested readers have not already received from other sources. The news you mention was widely disseminated by the national media. In fact, your complaint is not that you did not receive the information, but rather that we did not use enough of our space to reiterate the information you received elsewhere. Knoxville News Sentinel Nov. 21, 2007
Had editor McElroy used the meta search service Dogpile, he would have seen this 1 – 20 of 30 from All Search Engines. Dogpile uses Google, Yahoo, and other major search engines to produce comprehensive unduplicated results – 30 primary sources, period. McElroy was wrong. The story was not “widely disseminated by the national media.” It was barely covered. With editor McElroy’s inaccurate statement about national coverage and the indifference of his paper to a huge story, it’s no wonder citizens distrust the press.
Shouldn’t Protecting Against This Generate a More than a Few Headlines?
Valerie Plame’s mission was to track the illegal market in nuclear weapons. The goal was to prevent the use of any of those weapons against the people of the United States. The mission was disrupted when Plame’s true role as a CIA NOC agent was revealed. The leak came from the White House. Then, when fingers were pointed at Rove and Libby, the president and vice president swung into action. They told their press secretary to lie to the press and the people. By McClellan’s account, they conspired with the group to deceive the public and perhaps the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald.
Failure to grasp its meaning of this story requires an exceptional act of will.
We expect much more out of those charged with protecting the nation and its citizens? Isn’t the mainstream media, the so called “fourth estate,” a self anointed protector of the public well being? We’ve been told that this is done by vigorous coverage and investigation of major stories involving presidential cover-ups; particularly those dealing with critical national security threats.
But here’s what we got. The supposed “paper of record,” The New York Times was the first, or one of the first, news organizations to break the story on Tuesday at 1:29 p.m.
The internet news sites battled back and forth with some on the left taking the lead in exposing the gravity of this accusation. But where is the New York Times?
Is this story simply going to die like so many others that show the outright danger posed to the people by their so called leaders? Democratic presidential candidates have jumped on this revelation. Will leaders in the House and Senate hold hearings to determine the accuracy of McClellan’s devastating revelation? If hearings happen at all, will they lead to a Bush – Cheney impeachment in the House and a trial in the Senate?
We’ve just seen how the mainstream media reacted to the disruption of a very high level operation to prevent the use of nuclear weapons against the populace. Why would we expect the same media to pay much attention to the process of holding the president and vice president accountable for this travesty?
Here’s a much more helpful attitude by the press. Note the question mark at the end of the headline. They report, we decide…but first they must report.
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