Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Monday, September 29, 2003  

The Valerie Plame story, despite it's intense interest to bloggers, remains a zero to the mainstream press (minus, of course, the Post). Last night, I did a search in Google news on "Plame" and got 12 results. That's twelve. This morning it's up to 18, which represents a fifty percent increase on squat. (I don't want to minimize this--variations on the name "Wilson" get returns in the hundreds. More on what that may mean below.)

Yesterday, a minor tributary in the Plame torrent was a post on Instapundit in which Glenn Reynolds essentially said, "What's the big deal?" Connoisseurs of the complex and conspiracy-tinged love the story. After taking a mouthful of information, they identify hints of payback and notes of crime and coverup. But for the vast majority, the story is bizarre. More importantly, it's hard to pull the threads together so that they form a clear, direct narrative. Reynolds is merely asking the obvious.

(Here's how it goes now: Joseph Wilson investigated reports that Saddam was seeking uranium from Niger, ultimately dismissing them as false. When Bush made the very same claims in the run-up to war, Wilson went public and called them bogus, embarrasing the President. In payback, the Bushies leaked the information that Wilson's wife was an undercover CIA agent. Revealing the names of undercover agents is a felony, and so now the Bushies are in hot water.

At damn near every point in the story, readers will find ambiguity such that linking them all up seems esoteric at best. They wonder, revenge?--how is that revenge? Isn't it, at worst, just a slip by minor functionaries in the White House? What's the big deal?)

Instead, a great many of the articles are merely rehashing the yellowcake story. Sidestepping the complexity of Valerie Plame, the articles go back to whether that evidence of yellowcake really was "darn good" after all.

Until the links get stronger and until the press figures out how to reduce the story to a coherent 2-3 sentences and explain why it's a big deal, my guess is that it will remain the purview of the blogger. The Bushies will continue to play misdirection and hope to kill the story by starvation. It may work, but those who have been following the story will tell you that they thought it already had. And yet here it is back in the news.

One can't help being reminded of illegal activity by another President that seemed complex and esoteric to the press and public--all except the Washington Post. In the end, everyone recalls, that one turned out to be a pretty big story. So you never know.

[Update: 2:25 pm PDT, running total on Google News is up to 38; things are picking up.

5:49 pm - 44.]

posted by Jeff | 8:19 AM |
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