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Fox News Asleep at the Switch On Porter Goss

Reported by Judy - May 5, 2006

In this day of instant communications, Fox News got beat pretty badly Friday (May 5, 2006) on the story of Porter Goss's resignation as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

CNN reported early this afternoon that Goss had submitted his resignation to George Bush. News Hounds' Janie had an entry up at 1:44 p.m. ET referencing CNN's story, having started writing it earlier in anticipation of a White House announcement.

Yet the dynamic duo on "Dayside" -- Juliet Huddy and Brian Kilmeade -- didn't get around to breaking the news to Fox News viewers until 1:48 p.m. What's the matter? Did Johnny Dollar quit? Couldn't any of the people whom Fox News pays to read our blog bother to drop an email to John Moody to let him know what was going on in the world?
Or maybe the folks in the news room were so busy re-watching the video of former Tennesee school teacher Pamela Rogers doing a provocative dance that they forgot to monitor CNN's broadcasts.

In any event, Huddy and Kilmeade had to scramble to try to figure out what was going on after The AP story by Jennifer Loven moved around 1:44 p.m. "This caught many people by surprise," Kilmeade admitted. Not the least of which was the Fox News staff. Fox News White House correspondent Wendell Goler reported briefly from the White House lawn, suggesting that Goss didn't like losing his access to Bush to intelligence czar John Negroponte.

Kilmeade tried to add some additional context to the resignation, noting that the third-ranking official at the CIA has been linked to the Duke Cunningham defense contractor scandal, but he either didn't know or chose not to go into detail about what was involved -- defense contractors hiring prostitutes and hosting stag poker parties for prominent members of Congress. Mum was the word on that. Fox kept repeating the Negroponte line.

After Goler, Fox News went to Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor Bob Beckel, who had just been on the program for a segment on gas prices. Beckel was so readily available and so prepared that I wonder if he may have been the one who tipped off Fox News to what was going on, calling them to see if they wanted a comment from him. Beckel certainly seemed ready to respond and not at all breathless as if he had just learned something.

"There were so many signs that things were in disarray over there," he said, pointing to the loss of veteran agents, the removal of Mary McCarthy for allegedly leaking the existence of secret prisons for terror suspects, and Goss losing his ability to brief Bush daily. Beckel also noted that Goss, a sitting Republican congressman from Florida when he was named to head the agency in August 2004, was an "obvious partisan" which rankled the veteran professional agents of the agency.

By this time, somebody had gotten Huddy a copy of Goss's resume and she was able to start reading it, able to offer nothing at all in the way of details regarding the recent developments Beckel had just mentioned.

After going to pool footage of Bush and Goss, Kilmeade and Huddy went to Fox News contributor John Kasich, who seemed shocked and caught off guard. "I'm very surprised. Frankly, I’m shocked," Kasich said. "...There's
something behind this story that I’m anxious to find out. … Frankly I’m very, very surprised.”

Just a notch lower on the "surprise-ometer" was Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday. Wallace never brought up anything to do with the Cunningham scandal, preferring to portray Goss as a victim of an alleged group within the CIA that was opposed to Goss's "reforms" and tried to defeat Bush by supposedly leaking information to Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign. Then Wallace speculated that Negroponte's selection as Bush's daily briefer was "one of the reasons he decided to resign."

"Dayside" then segued into Fox News Live. Wallace was back. "They're going to want to get the spin out as to what is behind this resignation," he said. Translation: Karl Rove, call me ASAP!

Did Scott McClellan forget to call Fox News with the scoop? Was this McClellan's parting shot to Fox News, the home of his successor Tony Snow? And starting Monday, when Snow takes over, will Fox be the first to know? Stay tuned. If nothing else, Snow will certainly appreciate how much adult supervision this news channel needs when handling real news.

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