Notes on the Atrocities
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Saturday, May 01, 2004  

Joseph Wilson on Nightline Dateline

Last night I happened to flip through the stations and see that the Joseph Wilson story was being shown on Nightline Dateline. I've always hated Nightline Dateline for lowering the bar with sensationalism and purple reporting, and never watch it. (And apparently, no one in the blogosphere does, either. I Technorati-ed it and got zero references.) Still, I think a lot of Americans do watch, and it was amazing to watch Stone's crowd sex up the story. From the intro:

Joseph Wilson -- levels direct and serious accusations against the White House. He says the administration not only lied, but that someone close to the president may have committed a crime by revealing the identity of an undercover operative for the CIA -- Wilson's wife. Why did it happen? And who does he think was responsible?

Horrible, isn't it? And yet Nightline Dateline is one of the first outlets I've ever heard use the word "lie." Nightline Dateline used it seven times in the story. They also managed to give a concise (if sensational) account of the Plame outing so that all the Americans watching could understand it. Whether this has any influence on Bush--who can say? It may have been more damaging than all the Krugman articles put together.

Within days, officials at the White House seemed to acknowledge there'd been a mistake, saying the claim shouldn't have made it into the president's speech. But instead of blaming the people who made the mistake, Wilson says the White House blamed him for pointing it out.

Wilson: “Now I don't know about you, but if I'm the chief executive officer and somebody puts a lie in my speech, I'm going to want the head of the person who put that lie in my mouth. Instead of wanting the head of the person who put the lie in his mouth, the White House trained their guns on me.”

Actually, Wilson and his wife. The attack came one week later in an article, critical of Wilson, by columnist Robert Novak. Citing "two senior administration officials," Novak reported that Wilson's wife "Valerie Plame, is an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction." With those words, the identity of an undercover CIA agent was revealed to the world, her cover blown forever.

posted by Jeff | 6:51 PM |
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