The Los Angeles Times takes a long look at Plamegate today. There's little new here -- except for a claim by someone close to Karl Rove that Rove first heard Plame's name from Bob Novak -- but the Times does raise an interesting question along the way. We know now that Rove and Scooter Libby were involved in the outing of Plame. But how is it, the Times asks, that their roles remained secret until after George W. Bush was re-elected?
The answer, at least in part: Their roles remained secret because some members of the mainstream press helped to keep them secret. According to the Times' report, Time magazine's Matthew Cooper chose not to ask for a waiver of confidentiality from Rove until this summer -- in part because his attorney advised against it, and in part because "Time editors were concerned about becoming part of such an explosive story in an election year." As a result, the Times says, "Cooper's testimony was delayed nearly a year, well after Bush's reelection."
Translated, as John Aravosis explains at AMERICAblog today, that means that Time's editors didn't want Cooper to reveal information that could be damaging to Bush's re-elections hopes until after the election was over. "It's one thing for Time to do its job and ignore the effects of its reporting and overall work on US elections," Aravosis writes. "It's quite another for Time to make decisions based on whether they'll influence US elections."
In a way, it may be even worse than that. By not seeking a waiver from Rove -- by not reporting what its reporter knew to be true -- Time allowed Americans to go the polls believing that which the magazine knew to be false. Until Time turned over Matthew Cooper's email messages to Patrick Fitzgerald this July, the White House was free to proclaim -- as it did, repeatedly and vociferously -- that Karl Rove had nothing whatsoever to do with the outing of Valerie Plame. That's the false story Americans had been told when they cast their votes for the presidency in November. Time knew better but didn't say.