Although there was nothing particularly earth-shaking in today's LA Times rundown of the events surrounding the exposure of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity, the rather remarkable thing is that it happened at all.
Coming on the heels of the CNN documentary this week that explored the FUBAR intelligence which assured the public of the existence of WMDs in Iraq and therefore the necessity of war, it feels like the large media outlets are positioning themselves for a story that is only going to grow bigger.
The NY Times, of course, has busied itself with defending the Martyr of the Bended Knees, Judith Miller. The WaPo is equally compromised, and given its role in promoting the war in Iraq really not in much of a position to start criticizing an administration it has been publicly fellating for so long. And as Michael Wolff noted in this month's Vanity Fair, Time Magazine did not even ask Matt Cooper's source for a waiver for a year -- waiting until after the election and obstructing an investigation out of fear of becoming Dan Rathered.
Hardly the stuff of Edward R. Murrow.
The LA Times piece today has the feel of a foundation piece, one that the paper hopes to build on. There's definitely a niche that isn't being filled -- investigative reporting about the most serious political scandal of our time by a publication with some heavy journalistic chops that isn't afraid to be critical of the 1600 crew. Likewise, CNN isn't really getting anywhere in he ratings war trying to be Fox Lite. I mean, WTF, might as well, know what I mean?
Right out of the gate, the tone of the LA Times piece is unusual as MSM coverage goes. They cut through the crap and don't dilly-dally around with the usual he said/she said obfuscations of the Mighty Wurlitzer:
Rove mentioned to reporters that Wilson's wife had suggested or arranged the trip. The idea apparently was to undermine its import by suggesting that the mission was really "a boondoggle set up by his wife," as an administration official described the trip to a reporter, according to an account in the Washington Post.Further, they don't buy into the sidestepping of the serial dissemblers who are incapable of ranting little other than "Joe Wilson lied" about his wife's role in sending him to Niger, and call it what it is: "a noisy sideshow to the substantive questions his trip raised about prewar intelligence."
This approach depended largely on a falsehood: that Wilson had claimed Cheney sent him to Niger. Wilson never made such a claim.
And perhaps best of all, rather than identify unnamed sources merely as "an individual familiar with the case," they openly divulge the bias of those upon whose comments they rely, taking away the guess work citing one in particular as "a Rove ally."
But my favorite part of the article was, of course, the verification that BushCo. is shitting itself over Patrick J. Fitzgerald's zeal for justice:
Those who knew Fitzgerald predicted he would charge hard and range far. Nonetheless, his investigative sweep startled the White House. He asked immediately for White House telephone logs, call sheets, attendance lists for meetings of the Iraq group, party invitation lists and even phone logs from Air Force One.Is this the first of many articles? Is it the LA Times' bid to become the go-to source on TraitorGate, now that the Paper of Record has become the Toilet Paper of Record? Holy crap, wouldn't that be visionary.
Update: One of the authors of the LA Times article, Tom Hamburger, appears here on an NPR radio interview. Looks like they're getting these guys out to promote the story, which can only be a good sign.