The Logic Lifeline

A logical approach to sorting out world events. Where logic, opinion and speculation are combined to produce a reasoned, but entertaining reading experience. The unofficial hometown conservative blog of Woodridge, Il

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The power of news services

Have you ever clicked around on various online news sites to see what they say about a current event only to find that most have the exact same story from a news service such as AP? From a financial perspective I see the wisdom in this. It can get mightly expensive to have your own writers for every single event that happens. To buy a story from a news service may save on salary and benefit dollars.

One downside to this setup is that it provides news services like AP a lot of power. My disdain for the Associated Press is no secret here. The inaccuracies are frequent and seem quite politically motivated at times. Today was no exception. Yesterday, Robert Novak came out with some details about his sourcing of the story where he told the world that Joe Wilson's wife Valerie Plame worked for the CIA and that she had a hand in Joe's selection to go to Africa over the claim that Saddam was looking to purchase uranium from Niger. Next thing you know the left and their media water carriers went berzerk claiming that the White House had leaked the name of a covert agent to the press to get even. An investigation was launched and the left dreamed of a Fitzmas that never came.

Novak revealed that he had 3 sources. The primary source was not named, but described as not being a "political operative". In other words the primary source was not with the White House. Novak contacted Karl Rove and CIA spokesman Bill Harlow to confirm what the primary told him. There was a critical piece of information that Novak revealed that was probably one of the most important. How did he get Valerie's name? The answer is that there is a book called "Who's Who in American Politics". Joe Wilson authorized an entry in the book showing him and his wife's name was mentioned. Novak found the name there.

You would think that this critical piece of information would be in the news stories. Well, AP apparently did not see the value of printing such information that would make their boy Joe Wilson look like a fool. Here is where my original topic comes in. When I began to look around at various news stories, I found that so many simply had the AP version of the story that lacked the Who's Who reference. Here is a list of who did what:

CNN - Non-AP but also missed the Who's Who
FoxNews - AP (that right-wing mouth organ)
USA Today - AP
Yahoo News - AP
Washington Post - (by Howard Kurtz) - No mention of Who's Who
Chicago Tribune - Used the Washington Post story

Chicago Sun-Times - Kudos - Mentions Who's Who
NewsMax - Kudos - Mentions Who's Who
WorldNetDaily - Kudos - Used the Chicago Sun-Times story
NYTimes - Kudos - they mention the Who's Who Here is the money quote from NYT:
"His new column confirms what he hinted at in a previous one: that although he had been told that Mr. Wilson’s wife was a C.I.A. officer, he learned her name from reading the former ambassador’s entry in Who’s Who in America. It identified her as Valerie Plame."
There are many more news oulets that I did not have time to check. The list, however, shows the power AP exerted over the story by leaving out an important detail. Their story was used around the country. Take this same scenario day after day and you see how public perception can be manipulated by leveraging one single news source over and over. That is exponential news power.

A few hours ago AP had a chance to make up for their shortcoming and include this important detail. In a new AP story, they still fail to mention they Who's Who. They do, however, quote Novak in claiming the conversation with Rove about Plame lasted about 20 seconds. Here is what they say today:

Regarding Wilson's CIA-sponsored trip, Novak said he told Rove, "I understand that his wife works at the CIA and she initiated the mission." The columnist said Rove replied, "Oh, you know that, too."

"I took that as a confirmation that she worked with the CIA and initiated" her husband's mission to Africa, Novak said. "I really distinctly remember him saying, 'You know that, too.'"

"We talked about Joe Wilson's wife for about maybe 20 seconds," Novak said.

According to Rove's legal team, the White House political adviser recalls the conversation regarding Wilson's wife differently, saying that he replied to Novak that "I've heard that, too" rather than "You know that, too."

So the difference between what each claimed Rove to have said involves 2 words. This is what Fitzgerald spent a lot of time on trying to determine if Rove was to be charged with anything? What a waste of time and taxpayer money. What damage that has occured as the left part of the blogosphere ran amok with crazy charges against Rove. What an indictment of the media in general that allowed the left to play them like a fiddle. What power the news services exercised throughout this and other events; and continues to do so.


  • At 11:27 AM, Blogger SkyePuppy said…

    What a bunch of power-hungry hypocrites! They raise a big stink and pressure the White House to name a special prosecutor to investigate "leak" of Valerie Plame's name. But none of them care about the leaks of genuine national secrets that hurt our country.

  • At 3:42 PM, Blogger Mojo_Risin said…

    OK, now I'm not sure, but if I understand correctly the sequence of events Novak's outlining is this:

    1) Novak hears from Primary Source that Joe Wilson's wife is a CIA operative;
    2) Novak does some quick-and-dirty research to find out the name of Joe's wife;
    3) He calls Rove or Libby or some other White House contact and confirms the fact there.

    Now, admittedly, I have tried to pay as little attention to this as possible, since it all seemed like a political game by EVERYone involved except for Joe and Valerie, and I would never get the real story. But if the sequence above is correct according to his own words, then isn't everyone guilty of exactly of what they're accused? Primary Source (Mr. X) should never have disclosed his piece of info, and Rove and Libby should never have confirmed it. Just because each person didn't fill in all the info doesn't mean they're each innocent.

  • At 3:58 PM, Blogger All_I_Can_Stands said…



    I don't recall if Novak gave the exact order of #2 and #3.

    On #1 do we know if Novak used the words CIA operative? If so, there are non-covert operatives. So to confirm that she worked at the CIA and had a hand in the decision to recommend her husband to go to Niger is not illegal, nor unethical.

    We don't know who Mr. X is, but according to Novak he is not a political operative. We don't know who he is or what exactly he said. Apparantly Fitzgerald knows who he is and what he said and determined no laws were broken; or at the very least he had no case.

  • At 4:38 PM, Blogger Mojo_Risin said…

    I mean, in general, I'm all on board with the opinion that the news media in general does at best a merely adequate job of reporting the news, but this Who's Who bit seems like a nitpick to me. Who says every article on the Plame subject has to recount every detail of the story?

    If the Who's Who entry is on Joe Wilson, and it only mentions his wife's name in the capacity of being his wife, then where's the relevance? It doesn't change the fact or the circumstances of the leak. So why does it NEED to be part of the story?

  • At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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