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Let's Tell Mikey, He'll Print Anything


Let's Tell Mikey, He'll Print Anything

by Jane Hamsher

It wasn't like Michael Isikoff didn't already have plenty to be ashamed of. After all, it was he who turned the pages of once-respectable Newsweek into a lurid bodice-ripper of Brobdingnagian proportions during Monicagate. I really didn't think it was possible to top a journalistic career built on three-ways with Lucianne Goldberg and Linda Tripp, but it seems I have underestimated the boy.

Isikoff really contorts himself into a shameless media pretzel in order to give Turdy a clean bill of political health today. I mean, I know Luskin is out there spinning -- that's his job as Rove's attorney -- but the idea that any journalist would unquestioningly accept whatever he says as an objective statement of fact and then print it as such is really quite remarkable even in a world of ever-escalating MSM shilling one-upsmanship, especially when Rove's new "alibi" includes accusing Patrick Fitzgerald of prosecutorial misconduct.

That's right. The rest of the world is lauding Fitzgerald's press conference performance on Friday, while Isikoff gives Turdy a free pass by saying Fitzgerald is a White House operative who violated his principles and his mandate to please the President.

Isikoff reports:
Fitzgerald made another visit early Friday morning —shortly before the grand jury voted to indict Dick Cheney's top aide, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby —to the office of James Sharp, President George W. Bush's own lawyer in the case, to tell him the president's closest aide would not be charged.
That is just a remarkable claim. Listen to Digby:
Can someone tell me why Fitzgerald would go to President Bush's personal lawyer on Friday to tell him that Bush's "closest aide wouldn't be charged?" Is it in any possible sense ethical for the prosecutor to be telling the president's lawyer information that isn't available to the public about members of the president's staff in the middle of an investigation?

If this is true, I think Mr Fitzgerald has some splainin' to do, otherwise it might look like he's got some back channel communication with the White House about a case that directly affects it. This would not seem in character for Mr Fitzgerald, who is by alaccountsts a very ethical prosecutor. If this is true, it's a bomb shell. Fitzgerald has no business discussing Karl Rove with anyone but Karl Rove and Karl Rove's lawyer.
I think it was Maureen Dowd who said that investigative reporting is not just stenography. Since when did Isikoff turn Newsweek into the fucking White House fax machine? Can he not be bothered to pick up a phone and call an impartial attorney and figure out this action on the part of Fitzgerald, if true, is totally, utterly and completely illegal?

But let's not interrupt Mikey, he's on quite a roll:
Rove remains in some jeopardy, but the consensus view of lawyers close to the case is that he has probably dodged the bullet.
Consensus view of who? Luskin and his team of lawyers? The same people who were out spinning their guts on Thursday night, saying Rove was still on the hook, only to have their asses handed to them on Friday when Fitzgerald was completely inscrutable about the whole Rove question? Would Isikoff like to say what has happened between now and then to change their opinion of the situation? Oh, I forgot, Fitzgerald went to the offices of Bush's criminal attorney and talked out of school. Doh!!

So sorry, then there is also the fabulous "Adam Levine" excuse, which Isikoff dutifully and credulously transcribes as if it actually makes sense:
Two sources close to Rove who asked not to be identified because the probe is ongoing said Luskin presented evidence that gave the prosecutor "pause."
Yeah, "pause" as in this is your fucking defense?
One small item was a July 11, 2003, e-mail Rove sent to former press aide Adam Levine saying Levine could come up to his office to discuss a personnel issue. The e-mail was at 11:17 a.m., minutes after Rove had gotten off the phone with Matt Cooper —the same conversation (in which White House critic Joe Wilson's wife's work for the CIA was discussed) that Rove originally failed to disclose to the grand jury. Levine, with whom Rove often discussed his talks with reporters, did immediately go up to see Rove. But as Levine told the FBI last week, Rove never said anything about Cooper.
Wow. Now it all makes perfect sense. Rove's flunky sashays into his office and Rove doesn't tell him he's just engaged in criminal activity, therefore he didn't. This is the rock upon which Rove will build his defense. I can see it now. Fitzgerald turns tail and abandons 22 months of hard work and his case against Rove based on this ineluctable logic.

If that's all they've got, Turdy's next gig will involve a power grab in the license plate shop.
The Levine talk was arguably helpful to one of Luskin's arguments: that, as a senior White House official, Rove dealt with a wide range of matters and might not remember every conversation he has had with journalists.
Help me, 'cos I've missed the logic leap here. Are they claiming that since Rove didn't mention the conversation moments later, he forgot it? That really just does not seem remarkably helpful to any defense. Then I suppose that in his haste to play the Jeff Gannon role in all of this, Isikoff might have failed to transcribe some sort of transitional statement that indicated Levine could also attest to the fact that Rove regularly forgets things.

What an interesting claim. It was Digby who points us to the Dallas Observer in 1999:
Early on, Rove showed he had the brainpower to go places. His sister remembers that the family used to rely on Rove's photographic memory for evening entertainment. "The game was, 'See if you can stump Karl,'" she says. His older brother Eric would read a passage from a book Karl had read the week before. The challenge was to guess which word his brother had intentionally left out.
I think Rove may be possessed of what my father would refer to as a "convenient forgetter."

Isikoff then spends the rest of the article shouting "hey, look, over there! Robert Novak! Let's not forget about him!" How very helpful.

You know, I'm really making an effort these days to go light on the four-letter words, but this entire article is just an outrage. A shameless, embarrassing excuse as a journalistic effort, and whether it is out of sheer laziness, mental infirmity or partisan hackery it is hard to say, often these things are unleashed upon the world as the toxic cocktail of all three.

But if what Isikoff is saying is true, then Newsweek should be all over Fitzgerald and calling for him to recuse himself from the investigation. If it's not true, the rest of us should be calling on Newsweek to recuse Michael Isikoff from using their pages as a radioactive waste dump for misinformation from criminals trying to influence an ongoing investigation.

I don't normally do this, but you can contact Newsweek here. If this is the standard that the MSM is holding itself to in the inquiry into the administration's role in a series of crimes, we're all doomed.

posted by Jane Hamsher @ 3:17 PM

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