the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

November 17, 2005

Post Carrying Republican Spin, Again


The Washington Post is already letting me down in my (admittedly faint) hope that it would handle Woodward’s involvement with the Plame Affair properly. Today’s edition has a story headlined “Woodward Could Be a Boon to Libby” that starts like this:

The revelation that The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward may have been the first reporter to learn about CIA operative Valerie Plame could provide a boost to the only person indicted in the leak case: I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Legal experts said Woodward provided two pieces of new information that cast at least a shadow of doubt on the public case against Libby, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff, who has been indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges.

It continues in that vein for several more paragraphs. So the headline and first half of the story are devoted to spreading the latest chaff launched by the Republican noise machine: the bizarre idea that somehow Woodward’s recent comments get Libby off the hook for his false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice, even though Woodward said nothing relevant to any of the charges.

Those who persevere into the last part of the article will see that it completely contradicts the first part:

According to the statement Woodward released Tuesday, he did not appear to provide any testimony that goes specifically to the question of whether Libby is guilty of two counts of perjury, two counts of providing false statements and one count of obstructing justice. The indictment outlines what many legal experts describe as a very strong case against Libby, because it shows the former Cheney aide learned about Plame from at least four government sources, including the vice president — and not a reporter, as he testified before the grand jury.

Randall D. Eliason, former head of the public corruption unit for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District, said he doubts the Woodward account would have much effect on Libby’s case, and dismissed such theories as “defense spin.”

“Libby was not charged with being the first to talk to a reporter, and that is not part of the indictment,” he said.

Why is the Post presenting the Republican spin as the headline and lead of the story, with the actual facts and the contradictory analysis presented only many paragraphs in? It’s bad enough when the cult of “balance” results in articles giving equal weight to an outrageous lie on one side and truth on the other, but in this case the lie has become the story and the truth is relegated to a footnote.

Update (8:45am): Americablog looks at the New York Times story, which has a different take on the consequences of Woodward’s revelation. The Times headline is “New Disclosure Could Prolong Inquiry on Leak”, and it contains an interesting nondenial by Cheney’s office about whether the vice president leaked Plame’s identity to Woodward.


  1. “Legal experts said Woodward provided two pieces of new information that cast at least a shadow of doubt on the public case against Libby,”

    A safe bet is that at least one of the legal experts was Victoria Toensing. Maybe more.

    My guess is that everytime there’s something new in the case, Toensing calls up reporters she’s friendly with and explains why this is a break for the administration.

    —AltHippo • 1:54 pm

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