I watched a bit of network news this evening which once again reinforces why I try never to watch network news. I'm pretty sure I was watching ABC when they did a little story on the perjury and obstruction of justice trial of former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
I've been watching the case mainly because all the evidence I've seen points to this as the case of an overzealous prosecutor doing whatever he can to justify the millions of dollars he's spent on his investigation -- he's got to prosecute somebody and unfortunately for him, Libby drew the short straw.
If you'd like to catch up with the trial reporting, I encourage you to go by Tom Maguire's place and just keep scrolling down.
Back to the ABC News report.
The Sunday evening report didn't focus a day late on the case against Libby on Friday, instead they focused efforts at "media manipulation" by Cheney's staff, specifically Cathie Martin, Cheney's spokeswoman.
Libby asked Martin to map a media strategy in case Tenet fell short.
A Harvard law school graduate, Martin had succeeded legendary Republican operative Mary Matalin as Cheney's political and public affairs assistant. Matalin had brought Martin to Cheney's office as her deputy and trained her.
Martin offered these options in order:
Put Cheney on "Meet the Press." [Note: In the broadcast report, the reporter said that Martin believed that "Meet The Press" host Tim Russert could be spun. I don't buy that, I think Russert is seen as a reporter who actually lets the people he's interviewing speak -- a rarity on many news talk shows.]
Leak an exclusive version to a selected reporter or the weekly news magazines.
Have national security adviser Condoleezza Rice or Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld hold a news conference.
Persuade a third party or columnist to write an opinion piece that would appear in newspapers on the page opposite the editorials.
This is just beyond the pale. Seriously, I don't think any presidential administration has ever done this sort of thing before -- ever. Certainly President Bill Clinton's administration never tried anything like this.
It's amazing that all these beltway reporters have managed to stay so pure as the driven snow for all these years, only to have that innocence ripped from them by the evil Bush administration.