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A GOP finally admits what's really going on: "Wilson needed to be undermined"

Reported by Nancy - July 18, 2005 -

Today (7/18) on FNL, mixed in with ALERTs about Hurricane Emily & endless criticism of the UK for not stopping the London bombings, there were more of the ongoing attempts to defend Karl Rove. One interview in particular stood out as a good example. Bennett Johnson gets a big round of applause for refusing to let David Asman get away with his usual nonsense. And Don Nickels provided proof of the adage that if you give them enough rope, they'll hang themselves.

Before we get to that interview, here's the set-up by FNL:
*12:08pm (EDT) - Wendell Goler reported that Bush "repeated his vow" to fire anyone who broke the law; after further muddying the water about that "vow" (whether it was to fire anyone who broke the law or anyone who leaked info), Goler added that it's clear that Bush doesn't feel he has enough info yet (clip of Bush); that Matt Cooper told Sunday new shows what he told the grand jury; & that Cheney;s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, "also may have learned about Plame from reporters." Goler showed another clip of Bush talking about his pick for SCOTUS nominee.
*12:17pm - teasers included: Rove - Cooper "has been saying a lot about all this"

Now for the interview:

12:21pm - Asman interviewed former Senators Don Nickels (R-OK) & Bennett Johnson (D-LA), allegedly about Matt Cooper ("questions still remain") but Asman immediately steered the conversation away from that by stating that Rove didn't mention Plame & asking "could another source by Colin Powell?" Nickels chortled that he had no idea who other sources might be, but stated that it's clear that Rove didn't break the law. Asman pretended to be befuddled & asked "what did he leak then?" Johnson said it's clear that Rove leaked Plame's identity. Asman objected, saying "but Rove talked to Cooper after Novak's column came out" (according to Asman, the timleline was 7/14 Novak's column, 7/17 Cooper talked to Rove). Johnson didn't let Asman get away with that, promptly correcting him (Rove talked to Cooper 7/11). Asman shrugged that off, saying that everything they're discussing is "all leaks from the grand jury" but Johnson persisted, asking "did he leak before it was public knowledge?" Johnson also noted that the "threshhold for a crime is very high here" but repeated that it's "clear he was the source", that Rove did reveal who Plame was & that it was done "for the purpose of smearing Joe Wilson." Asman overtalked the end of Johnson's remarks, turning to Nickels for help. Nickels dutifully chimed in with some Wilson-bashing (e.g., "looks like he has an agenda") & some more of the GOP talking points (e.g., "no one has said that Karl Rove knew that Valerie Plame was under cover"). Asman seemed relieved to be back on track & commented that the "independent prosecutor will establish" whether a crime has been committed. Asman then asked "Does the story just diasappear?" Johnson said he thought its "shelf life" would be pretty good but Asman interrupted to remarked about "summer doldrums" being an excuse for the attention the press is paying to this issue. Johnson refused to be diverted & said that "telling a lie is not a crime, but it's embarassing." Nickels opined that the story would be "short-lived" & quickly replaced by a SCOTUS nomination. Not content with that, Nickels went on to allege that a lot of his colleagues "have disclosed a lot more damaging" info, capping it all with his final remark: "Wilson needed to be undermined."

Comments: So many ploys, so little time. Goler's segment, the teaser & Asman's statement might lead viewers to think this would be about Matt Cooper, but he was hardly mentioned -- which is just as well, since it's not about Cooper, it's about KKKarl. Both Goler & Nickels threw in gratuitous references to a SCOTUS nomination (the classic distraction ploy). Asman's question were biased (e.g., following Nickels's opening statement with a question like "what did he leak then?" implies that Nickels's interpretation is the correct one). Asman freely inserted his opinion, as usual (the "summer doldrums" remark). When Johnson corrected Asman's misstatement of fact (the date when Rove & Cooper allegedly spoke), Asman simply shrugged it off & moved on to the next talking point. Nickels got both the first & last comments in this interview (something FNL interviewers usually take pains.to avoid, so they can do the "fair & balanced" claim). This, however, may have been Asman's major mistake: allowing Nickels to run with the subject ended with the astonishing assertion that "Wilson needed to be undermined" -- which perfectly encapsulates current GOP thinking, & also provides motive for Rove to leak Plame's identity in the first place.

For some good debunking of the GOP talking points that Nickels repeated, see Treasongate (Part VI) or Public Enemy Number One: The Right . Feel free to add your own links to additional material.

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (Asman's interview with Johnson & Nickels; FNL's ongoing skewed coverage of this issue). O/T comments will be deleted. Thanks.