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July 14, 2005

The Cooper and the Rove

Hey folks. Conference going well, plane home in a few hours, very tired. Many thanks to Neil, who's been doing a bang-up job on the site. I'll be back tomorrow morn. But here's a piece I wrote on the way here but haven't been able to publish: enjoy.

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Lance Mannion's got a post marveling at Matt Cooper's credulity with Karl Rove. As the story seems to go, Cooper spoke to Rove about the Niger Uranium story, Rove swore up and down that evil powders were being cooked up on that there continent and Wilson was just an easily duped stooge sent to gum up the President's efforts to save the world. And then? Then what happened?

Nah, you're tired. We'll finish this tomorrow night.

No -- c'mon, your eyes are drooping. I can tell.

Fine...okay, keep your shirt on. Cooper believed him. Sized up the President's chief political operative, a machiavellian master renowned for his ruthlessness, and believed. Believed hard. Somewhere, an apprentice tooth fairy got her wings (which later ripped in mid-flight, showering a horrified tyke in luminescent, gossamer shreds. The kid, traumatized, was eventually put on meds to calm his overactive imagination). More importantly, a lying Administration gained a few more days.

Lance's question, however, stands. Why did Cooper believe? It's like the fable of the frog and the scorpion -- it's the scorpion's nature to bite, assurances to the contrary should be laughed off. But Cooper looked Rove up and down, considered his motivations, and bought his tale. Cooper, a former Washington Monthly editor smart and good enough to achieve a coveted column in the nation's largest newsweekly, should be better than that. Should be brighter than that. So why wasn't he?

Let me offer a hypothesis: You're Matt Cooper, political reporter extraordinaire. Favorable coverage in your column is one of Washington's most valuable currencies. Folks from all sides of the political spectrum court you, accept you, consult you, stroke you. Rove may not have the best reputation, but in all your dealings he's been brilliant and funny, an uber-smart guy able to continually best his adversaries. They may hate him for that, but why should you? In fact, wouldn't reflexive anti-Rove paranoia violate your position, your attempts to maintain, if not an objectivity, an open-mindedness? Sure would.

So you grow fond of Rove. Not more so than other folks in your line, but you lose your wariness. You've had coffee with the guy, lunch with the man. The poll numbers he leaks always pan out, the predictions he offers tend to come true. And hey, the campaign's over. These guys are in government now. And, agree with them or not, you've got a basic faith that the folks populating 1600 Pennsylvania possess a fundamental sense of responsibility towards running the country. Maybe they don't legislate as you'd like, but disagreements can be had without bad faith being assumed.

And, let's be honest, this story is pretty incredible. The President basing his speech off bunk intelligence? That he had? This is national security here, not a tax cut. Folks don't lie about this. And they certainly don't lie when the info's right there in the open for them. That'd be stupid -- no savvy administration would risk it. And Karl Rove, he's nothing if not savvy. So when he e-mails to say "BS", you obediently call bullshit. It makes more sense, it's easier to believe. These guys know the stakes, they realize the consequences. If he's saying this is crap, it probably is. After all, Rove ain't as bad as everyone's said, just better than his enemies would like. And those grudges aren't for you to settle. So you go with him. And he lies. And, like the scorpion and the frog, you sink down to the bottom with him.

July 14, 2005 in Media | Permalink

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Comments

What in his conversation with Cooper did Rove say that wasn't true?

Plame did help get Wilson the Niger gig and Wilson did at least exagerate the signifigance of his report and his findings in Niger.

You can fully believe that the whole uraniam from Africa thing was bogus, that the entire war was based on faulty intelligence and that Rove is pure evil, and those two facts are still true.

Posted by: Dave Justus | Jul 14, 2005 3:47:29 PM

Your hypothesis is dependent on the fairytale assumption that Matt Cooper, reporter extra-ordinaire and possessor of no particular fondness for the Bush Administration, somehow found himself mesmerized by the cobra-like moves of Karl Rove and backed off the story.
Here's an alternative hypothesis: Matt Cooper, reporter extra-ordinaire and well connected within the Dem realm, smells a rat in Joe Wilson and decides not to soil his journalistic reputation after Rove confirms privately that Wilson's trip was hyped by his wife and not requested by the Director of the CIA or the Vice President.
Joe Wilson doesn't cast well in the part of Snow White and neither does his wife.

Posted by: Marv | Jul 14, 2005 3:52:00 PM

Ezra, did you have any doubt for a millisecond that the resident trolls would have an answer for you?

Hey guys, I hate to break it to you, but it doesn't matter what you, or KKKarl, or the Wall Street Journal thinks of Wilson: outing a CIA agent is a crime, if not treason. And the possible "motivations" that Joe Wilson supposedly had for outing his own wife are so transparently laughable that only a typical wingnut fool could promote them with a straight face.

But of course, that's what your Daddy Karl would expect of you...

Posted by: Captain Goto | Jul 14, 2005 4:57:37 PM

Whether it was a crime or not is irrelevant to whether what Rove said was true, and thus whether or not Cooper should have believed him.

We could argue about, given what we know, a crime was commited or not. It wouldn't effect the basic question or point of this post though.

The post is claiming that Cooper shouldn't have believed Rove because Rove always lies. I contend that that is silly, given that as far as we know, Rove told Cooper the truth.

Posted by: Dave Justus | Jul 14, 2005 5:09:46 PM

Those trolls are just reiterating today's RNC talking points, which aren't accurate.
Cheney's office did make the original inquiry about the Nigerian yellow cake issue. They put alot of pressure on the CIA to check it out. Cheney's office didn't order the specific mission tho - the CIA did that. Plame may have suggested her husband for the mission, we don't know that, but in any case he is a good pick; he had major contacts there and had been a well known diplomat for them since the Bush I administration. Wilson had already performed one secret mission to Niger in 1999 for the CIA. Plame had no authority herself to commission the project, her superiors did that. Plame had just had twins and did not even attend the meetings that Wilson had with the CIA supervisors that arranged the mission.
The RNC just want to put the focus on Wilson, as if he were up to some renegade shenanigans or something. Anything to cloud over what Rove did.

Posted by: sprocket | Jul 14, 2005 5:13:04 PM

Justus: Plame did help get Wilson the Niger gig and Wilson did at least exagerate the signifigance of his report and his findings in Niger.

The group in the CIA that made the decision to send Wilson DID NOT have Plame as a member. Even if it did, what does this matter? He was sent to Niger by the US paying his way, speaking with US government authority in Niger, and with him receiving no payment for his services.

Wilson's findings in Niger were supported by two separate reports: (1) the then current US ambassador to Niger (2) a US General who visited Niger and submitted a report with the same conclusions as Wilson. Even if the Wilson report was somehow overemphasized by Wilson (in what manner?), the recipients of the report are responsible for evaluating the contents for consistency with other intelligence.

The CIA concluded, long before the POTUS State of the Union address, that Iraq had NOT attempted to purchase uranium from Niger. IRAN did, but Iraq did not. Iran and Iraq were enemies. This was inconvenient to Bush in his push to war, so the messenger was attacked to discredit the message. The attack by Rove (and others, quite likely) compromised US national security and may be illegal. Whether illegal or not, it still broke any reasonable ethical rules regarding the use of intelligence, and should not be tolerated.

Neither of your assertions ring true, and even if they did, Rove could have told Cooper that the US government did not agree with Wilson's report, or that the VP had not asked for or seen the results. But Rove
didn't do that. Someone in the WH had seen the Wilson report or countering it wouldn't have been necessary

Rove exposed a CIA agent/operative instead of other alternatives to correct the story (if indeed any corrections were needed - which they were not). Rove was trying to spin the media message, not correct the record. You don't have to do 'double super secret' messages to the media to correct the record, before or after a new article is written.

The CIA thought that the law may have been broken and submitted a formal request to the Justice Dept to start an investigation. This lead to the appointment of the special prosecutor.

The current attacks on Wilson and his report are just the re-run of the standard Rove approach to media communication: find your opponents strength, and then attack and attack to confuse the media and the people.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jul 14, 2005 5:24:57 PM

For Dave Justus: (from WaPo)

Getting Worried at the White House

"White House officials acknowledged privately that they are concerned that the investigation will lead to an indictment of someone in the administration later this year."
...
"A number of legal experts, some of whom are involved in the case, said evidence that has emerged publicly suggests Rove or other administration officials face potential legal threats on at least three fronts.

"The first is the unmasking of CIA official Valerie Plame, the original focus of special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald's probe. But legal sources say there are indications the prosecutor is looking at two other areas related to the administration's handling of his investigation. One possible legal vulnerability is perjury, if officials did not testify truthfully to a federal grand jury, and another is obstructing justice, if they tried to coordinate cover stories to obscure facts."
...
"Mr Bush's silence is a sign he could be facing a serious threat to his presidency."

Your (and other's) apologist approach to Rove is facing a wall of resistence in both the media and public. Spin, lies, and attacks against political oppoents may not work anymore.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jul 14, 2005 6:03:49 PM

Well, Jimbo, some internet turd running his mouth isn't going to influence the outcome of this investigation one way or the other. Until the investigation is complete and all the facts are known, everything is speculation and little else.

I, for one, will do what I did with the Clinton scandal(s) and that is to wait and then discuss once the truth is known.

Posted by: Robert Zimmerman | Jul 14, 2005 6:27:06 PM

I am still waiting for what is was that Rove told Cooper that was a lie. I will reiterate, that it is entirely possible for Rove to have told Cooper the truth, and still broken a law. Indeed, ONLY if he had been telling Cooper the truth about Plame being a CIA operative COULD he have broken a law here.

Honesty and Legality are unrelated on this question. This post is about whether Rove was honest.

As for my assertion that Plame was involved in getting Wilson the job and Wilson was misleading about what he found out in Niger I refer to this article on the SIC investigation from over a year ago. If the SIC investigation has been discredited, I am unaware of that fact.

I will also note, that it is entirely possible that Wilson could be correct about Iraq never purchasing or trying to purchase Uranium from Niger and to STILL have lied about what he found out on his own investigation.

Posted by: Dave Justus | Jul 15, 2005 9:28:50 AM

Dave, the truth of what he allegedly told him is immaterial. Leaking classified material for political purposes -- if that's what he did (and honestly, I have no idea) --- is just wrong and probably illegal (I think the statute with the word "knowingly" is a red herring, ihmo -- I think Fitzgerald is pursuing something else, but I dunno).

How about this? Let's everyone calm down and wait for Fitzgerald. Honestly, I think he has something -- no prosecutor would go to the mats with the NYT/Time unless he had something significant -- but at this point everyone is just speculating. And as much as I love reading tea-leaves, no one knows what Fitzgerald is doing (Cooper's lawyer thinks it is significant, the judges in appellate review apparently thought it was significant but Fitzgerald's office has been remarkably and commendably leak-free).

BTW, I think the Dems. should sit back and wait, too. What they do over the next few weeks is completely irrelevant irrespective of what happens... best to keep this a non-partisan issue of prosecutor vs. WH. The Dems. should shut up and let the GOP hang themselves, if that's what's going to happen.

As far as the GOP goes, I would suggest not spinning a grand jury prosecution which is opaque at best. What they do know has been leaked -- often ineptly and in a contradictory fashion -- by Rove's atty (including the flurries of stories today -- check the sourcing).

Posted by: Chris Rasmussen | Jul 15, 2005 1:26:07 PM

My 2 cents:

Cooper and Miller's decisions about testifying were driven as much by personal, financial concerns as they were by high-minded concerns about the sanctity of the first amendment and a free press. Bottom line, neither one of them wanted to sever ties to a goose that was laying their golden eggs – Rove. Without access to Rove (and perhaps a pissed-off, "burned" Rove), their equity as Washington journalists would be significantly diminished.

Follow the money...always.

Posted by: Riffin' Man | Jul 15, 2005 1:27:08 PM

Chris,

One can certainly argue that the truthfulness of what Rove said is immaterial.

However, this post was about the truth of what Rove said, claiming that Cooper was a fool to trust Rove because Rove is not truthful. In light of that discussion, however relevant it may or may not be, it is the truth that matters and not the legality.

Posted by: Dave Justus | Jul 15, 2005 2:18:30 PM

The truth goes beyond who told what and when, the truth goes to manipulating reporters so wanting to be part of the in club that they become tools in service to some propaganda.

Rove who has so regularly schooled these tools in the past has overextended his reach. The whole Bush administration has overestimated its ability to fool all the people all the time so long as they keep spinning tale after tale. But there is now a tear in the fabic of deception woven throughout the last five years. No one can deny the hole gaping, pulling larger daily. Bush is more done than he realizes.

Oh,it's not the scorpion's nature to bite. Scorpions sting. But in this case the ones with the stingers have become so twisted they have ended up sting themselves. Oy.

Posted by: The Heretik | Jul 15, 2005 10:47:50 PM

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Posted by: peter.w | Sep 17, 2007 3:12:38 AM

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