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Bill Press Leaves Mike Gallagher in the Dust re CIA Leak Investigation

Reported by Melanie - October 19, 2005

The right has been working on its spin about the Traitorgate case this week. It seems to have settled on spinning that the entire investigation is about partisan politics, much like Tom DeLay is doing in Texas. Fox tried to air a segment to help them along today (October 19, 2005) during Your World w/Neil Cavuto, but Bill Press got in the way.

At 4:08 p.m. ET, substitute host Stuart Varney signed off before a break with this promo: "Think the GOP's going to get a break if Karl Rove escapes indictment? Not if the liberal media can help it. Clear signs today of that and we're going to explain it for you."

At 4:15 p.m. ET, Varney opened a new segment with, "Question: Are Republican's damned if they do and damned if they don't? Take a look at today's New York Times."

A full-screen graphic appeared on screen (dated 10-29-05) with the following unidentified (article? op-ed?) text:

By signaling that he had no plans to issue the grand jury's finding in such detail, Mr. Fitzgerald appears to narrow his options either to indictments or closing his investigation with no public disclosure of his findings, a choice that would set off a firestorm.

(Emphasis in Fox's graphic.)

The graphic remained on screen (one would think the following was included in the NYT clip if he weren't paying attention) while Varney added this: "Shouts of cover-up and again, the Republicans lose. Fair?"

Varney introduced Mike Gallagher and Bill Press. (Included in Varney's introduction of Press was news about Press's new book, How the Republicans Stole Christmas : The Republican Party's Declared Monopoly on Religion and What Democrats Can Do to Take it Back. Unfortunately, Varney gave only the short title, which I'm sure caught the attention of Fox's audience which has heard for years that liberals are trying to kill Christmas.)

Gallagher went first: "Of course we can't win on this." He said he was "sitting in a state, Stuart, where Tom DeLay was indicted by a real rabid partisan Democrat named Ronnie Earle." "There's no way to look like this isn't a political firestorm."

Press, who was calm, straight faced, and very serious, followed. He outlined the history of the Plame case, adding that, "the Bush Justice Department was asked to conduct the investigation," the "Bush Justice Department" said "let's get a special prosecutor. So you have a Republican prosecutor investigating alleged leaks on the part of Republican aides in a Republican White House after the Republican President gave a State of the Union speech containing some stuff that may not have been true. What's unfair about that?!" (His emphasis.)

Gallagher, looking stunned and meek, sarcastically tried to steer the discussion back to the worn-out "liberal media" argument: "And of course we've got a Republican-themed New York Times that's just doing its job. We had a Republican-themed news media that said soldiers were flushing copies of the Koran down the toilet. Come on! This is a political hack job, Bill, and you know it."

Press: "The New York Times has nothing to do with it." Press said "even Bush has said that Patrick Fitzgerald is conducting a fair and honest and independent investigation." Fitzgerald is "your Republican special prosecutor. Let's find out what he says." (His emphasis.)

Gallagher, with a dear-in-the-headlights look on his face, said, "I'm with you. I'm with you now. But don't sound so excited about indictments coming down. You sound about as excited as the Republicans Stole Christmas."

Press: "I would think that the first time the two top aides in the While House fall since Haldeman and Ehrlichman, that's something for Democrats to at least have a smile about."

Varney, adding Plan B Republican spin, said, "I'll put it to both of you. The public really does not like this and regards this as just pure politics which is getting in the way of doing the government's business."

Gallagher: "There's a great parallel" between Rove and DeLay "because if it's driven by partisan politics," you've "got a guy like Bill Press who's a member of the loyal opposition" saying "wait until the two eggs fall and then we can smile." The public is "sick of it." Gallagher said he didn't "even know if Valerie Plame was covert or not when supposedly somebody outed her."

"Well, you haven't done your homework because she was covert," Press said.

Gallagher, apparently not paying close attention, said, "No we don't."

Press repeated the litany of Republican entities involved and then said, "This is a straightforward investigation. You can call a lot of things politics in this town," but this is "a serious crime." Let the special prosecutor "finish his task."

Comment: I've never seen Mike Gallagher look so stunned, or be so speechless. When I've seen him on Fox in the past, he has ranted and raved in the Limbaugh mode, lashing out, throwing everything but the kitchen sink into the discussion in order to "win." Press did a wonderful job presenting the facts and staying on-message today, something that stops the right dead in its tracks. It takes a certain skill (which can be learned), not to permit oneself to be dragged in the direction (off topic) the right wants to take you. Democrats - especially those on the Hill - need to get that, ASAP. This segment should be required viewing for all the "loyal opposition" members who appear on Fox in the future.

(Fox also discussed this Times article in the hour before Your World, during Studio B.)

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