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The Plame Blame Game

Reported by Chrish - October 26, 2005

FOX is running pre-emptive damage control for the much anticipated indictments from Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. They are attacking on several fronts, repeatedly, with a smooth continuum between The Big Story (John Gibson) and Special Report (Brit Hume) today October 25.

One angle introduced on both shows was about the New York Times article appearing today, that focuses attention on a conversation between VP Dick Cheney and his Chief of Staff Louis “Scooter” Libby and the latter's notes on the exchange. Barely acknowledging the content and implications of the article, Gibson and his guest Judge Andrew Napolitano, and Hume and his panel of “all-stars” all wondered who would investigate the leak that led to the article! While both teams did allow that the information could have been obtained from a number of sources (Libby's lawyer, Cheney's lawyer) the general consensus was that it made sense that it came from Fitzgerald's office. No-one advocated the position that it made sense to have come from Cheney's/Libby's offices, to soften the blow of the anticipated indictments and to allow for preliminary spinning. With this tactic, viewers are slowly introduced to the concept of an indicted Vice President and have already begun to shift suspicions to the investigator.

This important aspect, the infamous blame game, was covered on both shows with segments on the “liberal press'” role in the investigation and “hype”, and reinforced with commercials during both programs for the evening's O'Reilly Factor. As the announcer intoned “Tonight, with the Right under heavy attack (we see flashes of Bush and Rove, DeLay, and Miers), is a left-wing smear machine to blame? Bill exposes them, and their tactics, on the next Factor!” (Note the redundant “smear machine” in the background; it is so subliminal and quick it was very hard to capture.)


During the Big Story, a teaser before commercial break had video of Bush with the caption "Negative P-R" and Gibson said that Bush should be on top of the world with the Iraqi constitution ratification; where's all this negative air coming from anyway? Before the next break he continued the theme: The rising US death toll in Iraq is only one of many damaging developments Bush is being confronted with now. A lot of dark clouds appear to be hovering over him, but is it really as it appears, or is the liberal press just spinning it that way?

Later on, he turned to former Bush/Cheney campaign chief strategist Matthew Dowd for some objective (snort) perspective. A GWU poll clip was shown that said 44% approve and 54% disapprove of Bush, " a bit lower than it's been in the last nine months or so". (The most recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll finds his approval at 39%). Dowd attributed the low numbers to 1. Iraq, 2. Gas prices and the economy in general, and 3. the terrible response to Hurricane Katrina. The tension and unease surrounding the CIA leak case was not mentioned.

There was no story, of course, detailing the distortions and spin of the liberal media "bashing" Bush, just the repitition of the myth and the comforting familiar words to scare away the notion that the Bush administration might really be crooks on the eve of indictment.

The last segment of Special Report, the "all-star" panel, held one interesting tidbit from Fred Barnes, who spun a simple tale of the CIA leak scenarios, and then said "The problem with some of the reporting here, the reporting is all based on the notion that all the White House cared about was punishing Joe Wilson, and that's Joe Wilson's tale, when in fact, what the - he was peripheral - the fact is what the White House was interested in doing was knocking down this story Joe Wilson told, and vindicating what (Bush) said. Ultimately (Bush) has been vindicated."

On that pro-Bush note, Hume said that is it for the panel.

Comment: What vindicated? There is growing recognition that the war was unnecessary and that we were lied to about the reasons for invading. Hell, they're still lying! Operation Iraqi Liberation had to be changed to Freedom because even the most obtuse would see it for what it is if they went with their first choice.

They can spin this all they want for their viewers. The majority of non-Fox-viewing Americans understand this as very serious and only 10% believe the administration did nothing wrong in this affair. As the dots are connected, finally, on television for all the semi-conscious to see, there will be a backlash of anger and indignation from all but the most fanatic .

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