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Hannity And The GOP Try - But Fail -To Spin Plame Outing As No Big Deal

Reported by Ellen - July 13, 2005

Now that the GOP has its talking points on Karl Rove together, suddenly FOX News is ready to about him, too. Unfortunately for the GOP and Sean Hannity, there are liberals who have a lot to say as well. One of those liberals is Bill Press and he got the best of Sean Hannity last night when he appeared on H&C to talk about Karl Rove and Plamegate. Is there anything better for a News Hound than watching a spunky liberal out-talk Hannity? Not much.

Alan Colmes started off the discussion which, I was happy to see, was the top story of the show. Colmes began by criticizing White House spokesperson Scott McClellan for refusing to talk about Rove because "there's an ongoing investigation." Colmes pointed out that the investigation began in 9/03 and he has talked about it several times since. Colmes said, "All of a sudden, he can't talk about it?"

Appearing with Press was G. Gordon Liddy who, considering his own tainted background as a Republican dirty trickster did not strike me as the best representative for his party in this discussion. But that's their problem.

Liddy claimed that the reason McClellan is being circumspect is because the special prosecutor has specifically asked that he not comment on it. Then Liddy tried to make the argument that the outing was really no big deal. He said Plame was not an undercover operative operating in the field, the kind of person the statute seeks to protect. (Comment: Then why is there such a lengthy investigation about the leak? Why did George Bush say he would fire the leaker? And why haven't the Republicans made this argument in a big way up until now?).

Liddy also said that Plame's name was made public by Novak, not Cooper, that Rove was just trying to help Cooper because he was "about to embarrass himself" by publishing that Vice President Cheney who had sent Ambassador Wilson to Niger. According to Liddy, Rove - in an uncharacteristic act of media altruism - said it wasn't Cheney, it was Wilson's wife "who apparently, he said, works over there at the agency. That is not violating the statute and he didn't name her."

Colmes called that "White House spin," then turned to Press who answered, "Totally." Colmes added that Michael Isikoff, of Newsweek, has reported that Rove may have gotten the information on Plame from a classified file that Colin Powell had which means he knew it was classified.

Bill Press summarized the situation nicely. He said that Karl Rove previously denied he had anything to do with Valerie Plame "yet now we know he deliberately leaked her identity. Maybe he didn't name her name but he said it was Joe Wilson's wife and she worked at the agency. The agency only means one place in this town. It means the CIA. Secondly, we know that Karl Rove compromised our nation's national security by blowing the cover of an undercover CIA agent." Taking the opportunity to compare this to Watergate, he said, "This is not just a burglary operation. This is compromising our national security... I think it is an act of treason and Karl Rove should not only be fired, he should marched off to prison where every traitor belongs."

Then it was Hannity's turn. He began by trying to deflect attention away from the meat of Press' allegations. Sarcastically, he said, "I love that now the Clinton defenders and the Berger defenders are out there calling Karl Rove treasonous and finding him guilty without a trial but that doesn't surprise me."

Press interrupted him to ask "...(unintelligible as he and Hannity were speaking at the same time) to compromise our nation's security, why isn't that a serious matter and why are you defending this guy?"

G. Gordon Liddy repeated his GOP talking point, that Plame was not undercover, that the nation's security was not at stake.

Press, refusing to accept that said, "It sure was. Lives were at stake. It was an undercover agent."

Liddy reiterated his talking points once again, saying she was not part of "the DDO," not posted abroad and "as far as I know, she was not undercover." (In other words, she could have been undercover. So the outing doesn't count unless we know for sure?)

Press, not to be deterred, said, "No, no, no. Here's what happened here. Here's what happened. What happened is that George Bush knowingly put false information in the State of the Union address about Saddam Hussein trying to buy yellow cake uranium in Niger. Then Joe Wilson (SH tried to interrupt, but BP refused to allow it) Joe Wilson blew his cover and Karl Rove went after Joe Wilson as an act of political revenge."

SH: "Alright, let me bring some evidence to the audience here that hasn't come out so far. Finally, Byron York did a piece tonight on National Review Online. Bill, before you get even more hysterical than you are (Press interrupted to say he had read it) you need to go back and read it ("I've read it."). What we're discovering - I know you want to condemn him right out of the box, you don't believe in any evidence, but now Karl Rove's lawyer has said, first of all it was Cooper who originally called Karl Rove (Press: So what?). Hang on, learn something, Bill. It was Cooper who wanted to talk about welfare reform and then later turned it to the other issue here. And more evidence that Karl Rove wasn't on a witch hunt to get a story out about Valerie Plame. Karl spoke to him on double secret background, even according to his information and thirdly, G Gordon Liddy, Karl Rove released these guys to tell their story back in late December 2003 and early 2004... This is not a big surprise, G Gordon.

Press tried to respond but Hannity told him the question was for Liddy. Press said, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, I thought that was addressed to me... I hope you'll let me answer as well. You started out talking to me."

Liddy, sounding like a broken record, repeated his talking points that Rove did not disclose Plame's identity, that he attempted to keep Cooper from embarrassing himself by putting out a false story (Hannity said "Exactly."). "The woman was not what is known in the trade as an operator. She worked in headquarters, probably doing some kind of research on WMD's. She sent her husband, a former ambassador, over there who, according to his account, sat at a swimming pool, drinking green tea, talking to some people and then he came back and said that there was no attempt by Iraq to purchase uranium ore from Niger. The fact is, they did."

In other words, it was OK to out Plame because her husband was wrong about Iraq and Niger? We never got to find out because the segment was over and the music had started. But the irrepressible Press got the last words in by talking over the music: I don't care who called whom. In that conversation, Karl Rove told Matt Cooper that it was Valerie Plame.

Hannity tried to interrupt by saying "Bill, you're hysterical." (But he didn't say Bill was wrong.)

Press ignored Hannity and continued: She worked at the CIA. He leaked it and he's lied about it for two years and Goerge Bush said he'd fire whoever did.

Colmes, smiling, thanked Press. Press got the last word: Why doesn't George Bush fire Karl Rove?

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