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Did "Real Journalism" FOX News Deliberately Ignore These Well-Known Facts Or Did It Just Not Bother To Report Beyond The White House Talking Points?

Reported by Ellen - July 18, 2005

There are so many important facts missing from FOXNews.com's latest story on Plamegate that somebody might be able to sue FOX News for falsely advertising itself as "Real Journalism, Fair and Balanced" on this story, alone.

Missing Fact #1: In the middle of the scandal, Bush has lowered the bar to which White House employees must measure up with regard to leaking classified information. Not only did FOX News not report that fact, it seems to have covered it up when it led with the following two paragraphs:

President Bush reiterated (my emphasis) Monday that if someone in his administration broke the law by talking to reporters about Joseph Wilson's wife, then they would lose their jobs. "If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration," Bush told reporters during a brief news conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

A few paragraphs later, FOX adds this information:

Nearly two years ago, Bush said those responsible would be held accountable. "If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is and if the person has violated the law, the person will be taken care of," he said in September 2003.

Not reported is this information from the AP, the wire service FOX News typically uses and one of the sources - along with Julie Asher and Sharon Kehnemui Liss - credited for preparation in its own story.

Bush said in June 2004 that he would fire anyone in his administration shown to have leaked information that exposed the identity of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. On Monday, however, he added the qualifier that it would have be shown that a crime was committed.

This story has been posted to Yahoo, among a host of other places, so it's not as if there's any excuse for FOX not to have found it.

Interestingly, the FOX article provides quotes from Republican David Gergen and Democrat Charles Schumer referring to Bush changing his position but FOX never provides the underlying fact of Bush's own contradictory statement.

Missing Fact #2: FOX News omits previous White House statements about the scandal that contradict its current stance.

To quote from the article:

Although Bush would not comment directly about Rove, he lamented that the case was "being played out in the press" as he said that it was "best that the investigation is complete before we jump to conclusions."

The White House normally does not comment on ongoing investigations.

Oh, really? Then how to explain the following?

October 1, 2003 White House spokesperson Scott McClellan said, "There's an investigation going on... you brought up Karl's name. Let's be very clear. I thought - I said it was a ridiculous suggestion, I said it's simply not true that he was involved in leaking classified information, and - nor, did he condone that kind of activity."

Similarly, on October 10, 2003, McClellan said, "I think it's important to keep in mind that this is an ongoing investigation." But he then added with regard to a question about Rove's involvement, "I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this."

Again, this information is in the public record (these quotes come from the White House's own website), available to anyone, so why didn't FOX News use it? According to FOX News President and CEO Roger Ailes, reporters are required to "present the news, if there is more than one side, make sure you have it. If you think there's something else you don't agree with make sure it's in the story." Either somebody at FOX News is lying or somebody is incredibly incompetent.

Missing Fact #3 - Karl Rove has changed his story.

The FOX News article goes into great detail about circumstances under which Rove spoke with Time reporter Matt Cooper and the conditions under which Rove's revelations might be a crime (and, "coincidentally" pointing out why "it's possible no crime was committed at all), yet overlooks the fact that Rove and the White House have changed their stories. McClellan's statements, above, insist that Rove was not involved in the leak, that Rove had "assured" McClellan he was not involved and that it was "ridiculous" to suggest otherwise. The opposite seems to be true. According to Newsweek, Matt Cooper wrote an e-mail to his Time bureau chief, saying

Rove had tried to wave him off the Wilson story - and mentioned Wilson's wife in the process: "it was, KR said, wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on WMD issues who authorized the trip," Cooper's e-mail read.

Missing Fact #4 - Cheney aide "Scooter" Libby was a source.. The FOXNews.com article downplays the Libby role by saying that Cooper's call to Libby was an attempt to confirm whether or not Cheney was the one to send Plame's husband to Africa. When Cooper asked if Plame had played a role in sending her husband on the CIA mission, Libby reportedly told Cooper, "'Yeah, I've heard that, too,' or words to that effect." FOX doesn't mention that Libby's statement makes him another source playing a part in the leak. That not only contradicts again the earlier White House claim that "those individuals" were not involved, it raises further questions about whether or not Plame was in the White House sights. It's one thing for one high-level administration staffer to spill the beans about a CIA agent. If two do it, it begins to look like a pattern.

Are these the kinds of omissions real journalists make? I report, you decide.

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