Friday, September 30, 2005

Democracy Now! and C.I.'s editorial

Mike and are I doing the same items from Democracy Now! tonight as usual.

DeLay Court Date Set (Democracy Now!)
A Texas judge on Thursday ordered former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to appear in court next month to face the charge that he conspired to funnel corporate money to state political campaigns. The summons calls for DeLay to appear in the court in Austin on Oct. 21. A grand jury indicted DeLay and reindicted two of his associates Wednesday in an investigation of a political fundraising group DeLay founded, Texans for a Republican Majority. DeLay's lawyers have been scrambling behind the scenes to prevent Delay from being handcuffed, photographed and fingerprinted when he appears in Austin.

Tom DeLay always reminds me of Lana Turner in the sixties when her looks had hardened and she always seemed twice as old as she was even though the skin looked like it had gone under the knife. Rebecca and I were talking about guys who look like they wear make up after Maria was interviewed by The Third Estate Sunday Review and we both agreed Tom DeLay looks like he wears makeup in public. We decided he didn't wear lipstick though. He probably uses one of the wild-cherry chapsticks like young girls whose mothers tell them, "You are too young for make up!" I won't get my hopes up over him being caught in a trap since he tends to get out of them constantly.

Judge Orders release of More Abu Ghraib Pics (Democracy Now!)
A federal judge ruled Thursday that graphic pictures of prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison must be released, despite government claims that they could damage the US image. Last year a Republican senator conceded that they contained scenes of "rape and murder" and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said they included acts that were "blatantly sadistic." The ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights sought the release of 87 photographs and four videotapes taken at the prison as part of the ongoing lawsuits over Abu Ghraib. The government is being given 20 days to appeal the decision. Last year, after viewing a large cache of unreleased images, Rumsfeld said "If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse."

Things like the above need to be made public. We need to publicly witness these things and we need to repudiate them. Otherwise, we justify it and next time it causes less outrage and ever less the time after.

No peace quote tonight because I've got a date. Rebecca asked me this afternoon to note that she would be blogging late due to her own date. I'll remind you that new blogger Seth is worth checking out. So I'll close with C.I.'s editorial today.

"Editorial: Not so brave Matt Cooper" (The Common Ills)
Okay, let's talk Plamegate. Judith Miller is out of jail. Scoots Libby has given her permission to testify. But let's not talk about it like everybody else is going to talk about it.David Johnston and Douglas Jehl (that might not be the order, I don't care) turn in "
Times Reporter Free From Jail; She Will Testify" in this morning's New York Times.
Maybe they've accepted the media spin? It hasn't really been their beat (despite all the attention Jehl received -- and back slapping -- for doing the obvious in one story on Plamegate*) so maybe they're not familiar with the details?I don't know.
Warning, this isn't a trash Judy piece. (Nor is it a defend Miller piece.)
I was asked to hold my tongue on one aspect of Plamegate. The reason being Miller was in jail and for the stated principle of why she was in jail, I held my tongue. She's out now.
She (and her attorney) spoke to Scoots and got his permission for a release.
And Jehl & Johnston tell you, in passing, of a similar thing that happened with Matt Cooper. But the thing is, it didn't happen with Cooper.
Cooper didn't hear from Karl Rove. Cooper's breathless announcement the morning of what would have had him joining Miller in jail, there was nothing new. There was no new release. It was the same thing Cooper had in 2003.
And if you check Adam Liptak's original reporting in the New York Times, you'll see that.
But the pack protects its own.
So Cooper (married to a Democrat) is given a pass. And the Los Angeles Times (among others) rewrites history. What's really surprising is when Michael Wolff points out the obvious (and public record) fact that Cooper didn't have anything to breathlessly announce, he gets attacked for it. The attack is sideslam that won't deal with the real issue, but that's why he got attacked.
It's interesting the way this will go down: Matt Cooper is a brave journalist who got a release from his source at the last minute. But that's not how it happened.
I held my tongue because two at the Times said it would hurt the principle Miller was standing up for. (Whether you believe she believed in that principle or not is your business.) I held my tongue here. In private conversations and e-mails, I've not been so silent.
And the reason is Cooper lied. Wolff told the truth. Wolff got broadsided for doing so. (Though he may or may not be aware of it.) He broke from the pack. And some of the voices who pride themselves on being so independent attacked him. Why? That's for those voices to reveal.
If they attacked out of friendship with Matt Cooper and a desire to protect him, they should come forward and admit it. They shouldn't act as though they just picked apart Wolff's writing for no reason.
We noted Wolff's article here twice. The second time we used the single paragraph that led one person especially to attack Wolff. They didn't make that the basis of the attack because that's not how you do it.
If you're protecting Cooper, you don't say, "Wolff says Cooper lied about having a new release!"
You don't draw attention to what's vanishing down the memory hole. You find another reason to attack. (Murray Waas and Wolff had a lively exchange on
Democracy Now! but it wasn't re: Cooper -- due to that exchange, some may assume Waas is among the people I'm referring to, he's not.) You try to find another way to pick apart the article, to slime it and Wolff, so that if anyone does read it and they find the Cooper paragraph that strays from the revised narrative they just assume, "Oh, there's Wolff again, lying!"
Wolff didn't lie, he didn't skew.Cooper wasn't going to go to jail. It wasn't important enough to him to go to jail. If that was the deciding factor, then say so. Don't invent a new release that didn't exist. (And in real time, in the public record, you'll find Karl Rove's attorney pointing that out.)
The narrative is now that Cooper got a release from his source at the last minute. That's the way the LA Times reported it, it's the way the New York Times does today -- going against their original reporting (again, see Liptak's original articles).
The narrative may well become two reporters stood up for their sources until their sources released them. But that narrative is false and a lot of work has gone into creating it. A lot of work went into attacking Wolff as well. It required pouring over his article to find something other than the offending paragraph to pick apart in an attempt to tar and feather him a liar.
Floyd Abrams did not accept the 2003 waiver. (The only waiver that Cooper had.) The attornies and the clients, while Miller & Cooper were standing side by side on this, both agreed that a release someone was forced to sign wasn't a real release. Miller's deal to disclose was ironed out by a phone call between attornies and Miller and Scoots.
Cooper didn't get honest. And the press, other than Wolff, has been willing to look the other way. That was bad enough but maybe they held their tongues for the principle? If so, now might be a good time to discuss what really went down.
Cooper didn't want to go to jail so why didn't that just get said? "I don't want to go to jail so I'm offering information." Instead a last minute release is invented, one that never happened. (Again, check the public record.)
There was nothing journalistically brave about what Cooper did. He may be "All Too Human" but he's not a brave reporter and he shouldn't be allowed to pretend he is.Wolff pointed out reality. Here's the paragraph that led to the attacks (from"
All Roads Lead To Rove") :
There is Time's Matt Cooper, a very decent fellow of my acquaintance (married, it is impossible in the ironies department not to note, to Mandy Grunwald, whose father, Henry, ran Time magazine, where Cooper works, in an era when the government was not so sharp when it came to the media, and who, herself, is a very sharp media political consultant who has advised both Clintons, and who has, it is likely, done some leaking herself), marching with seeming stoicism to his protect-my-source jail cell. But who, beyond ritual denial, seemed awfully relieved when his bosses took it upon themselves to release his notes and name his source (perhaps he felt a little guilty about his secret). And then, when that didn't get him excused, he announced a breathless last-minute release from his source, which turned out to be, according to Robert D. Luskin, Rove's lawyer, nothing but a reconfirmation of the pro forma release the White House had already required the source--and all potential sources--to sign (and which Cooper had said before was not good enough). So, baloney. And then there is the piece about all this that he did in fact write for Time nearly two years after he might just as well have written it.
This is nothing new. When Barbara Walters' name came up during Iran-Contra, the press circled the wagons then too. Walters should have been held accountable by the public but, for that to happen, they'd have to know what she knew and when. For a brief moment, they did. Then it was circle the wagons and down the memory hole.
There's no real news in this article in the Times. But I'm sure it will be examined and probed and discussed. That's fine. The outing of Valerie Plame by an administration swearing to change the tone (and boy did they) deserves to be examined intensely and discussed.
But I was offended when a publisher explained, the day Walters was briefly (a newspaper publisher) a news item in Iran-Contra, that she wouldn't be by the next day's news cycle.That's what's happening with Cooper.
It probably will continue. No one will question it because the spin is so intense that most people now think it happened that way. It didn't. I gave my word to hold my tongue on this (after I called Cooper "Fat Boy" -- either here or in a phone conversation) because the issue was the freedom of the press and pointing out Cooper's obvious flaws would lead to a defense and counter-defense (publicly by the press, not legal) and the "waters would be muddied if not bloodied." So I agreed to hold my tonuge here while Miller was in jail.
We're not discussing Miller in this entry, we aren't discussing Valerie Plame. What we're discussing is how the press will protect its own and how friends in various places will rush forward to attack someone, in this case Wolff, who states the obvious truth but never say, "Oh by the way, me and Matty? Friends!"
The attacks on Wolff might not have been so convincing if people knew they were coming from friends of Matt Cooper. (Which is not to say Cooper encouraged the attacks, just that he benefitted from them as he benefits from not being asked to explain his supposed new release that doesn't appear to have existed unless he's kept silent on it -- which, all things considered, would be amazing on his part.)
There are people who say they're in it for the truth. They say they just want to inform. A lot of them didn't do that -- not because they fell for the spin, but because they actively promoted it when they knew better. And there's also the issue of private conversations Cooper appears to have had which surfaced in the press while he was still supposedly not coming forward and standing with Miller on the First Amendment.
You can think Miller was self-serving or whatever. That's not the point for this entry. The point is that Cooper's story didn't hold up. And we saw that in real time. But then friends got a hold of it and it was hammered into a narrative that doesn't reflect reality.
This will be studied in journalism classes because there was an investigation, reporters were threatened with jail, many came forward. When it's studied, it's really not fair for Matt Cooper to be held up as an example of someone who bravely stood up against a prosecuter for the First Amendment because that's not what happend. And if anyone needs the truth about journalism, it's the young adults who will be stuyding to become journalists.
Cooper may be a nice person, he has a lot of friends. But an honest person would have stepped forward and set the record straight. He hasn't done that. And he's aware of some of the attacks on Wolff for raising the unmentionable in a single paragraph of a lengthy essay. (Wolff's been especially attacked on the D.C. party scene.)
Scoots told Miller, according to the article in the paper today, that he thought Valerie Plame sent Wilson on the trip. (That's spreading the rumor and that rumor pops up a lot in some of the revisionist writing benefitting Cooper.) His claim right now is apparently that he didn't know she was CIA. That deserves to be picked apart. The nonsense of "I didn't use her name!" deserves to be picked apart as well.
But here we're going to focus on the Cooper aspect because I don't like having to hold my tongue while history is rewritten. I agreed to do so while Miller was in jail. Maybe others got caught up in the larger principle as well? Miller's out of jail. There's no need to continue to maintain a "friendly" environment because the First Amendment is at stake.
The narrative flew in the face of common sense and public record but it took hold and maybe everyone wants to stay silent on it (except Michael Wolff) but I don't have a need to take part in a lie or play circle the wagons.
Cooper was initially vauge about his new release. Rove's attorney, in real time, publicly denied such a release. If Cooper has a release that justifies his actions, he can come forward with it. Don't hold your breath for that to happen because a lot of people have invested a lot of time in creating and maintaining this narrative.
You hear a lot of criticism of the press, justified, but one of the things that they do best, that rarely gets commented upon, is this circle the wagons approach. It allows certain individuals to not be held accountable. Take Judith Miller. Her articles in the lead up to the invasion and while taking part in it are obviously wrong. (She was proved f**king wrong.) But she wasn't held accountable for that. You had Jack Shafer and a few others who did hold her accountable (a few others within the ranks -- you had a lot of people outside those ranks holding her accountable). But it took a grand jury for her work to be seriously addressed. (The Times still hasn't done that.)
That's because they protect their own. They circle the wagons. And they've done it with Cooper and they need to called on it. They did it with Walters and today most people don't even know her ties to Iran-Contra. Matthew Cooper sat on a story, an important one that might have impacted the election (as Wolff points out) and here we won't act like a rewrite is reality.

Ava recommends that everyone check out C.I.'s "Rudith Miller."