Media Blog

Hitchens: Novak Puts an End to “Outing” Theory

Christopher Hitchens writes that Bob Novak’s recent revelations should put an end to the theory that Valerie Plame was “outed” as part of a personal retaliation against Joe Wilson:

To summarize, we now know that:

1. Novak was never approached by any administration officials but approached them instead.
2. He was never told the name Plame but discovered it from Who’s Who in America, which contained it in Joseph Wilson’s entry.
3. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald had all along known which sources had responded to Novak’s questions.

When one thinks of the oceans of ink and acres of paper that have been wasted on this mother of all nonstories, one wants to weep for the journalistic profession as well as for the trees.

Critics of this argument point to conversations between administration officials and Matt Cooper and Judith Miller in order to keep the “outing” story alive, but it still doesn’t hold up. A close examination of those conversations reveals that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby were warning these journalists not to believe Joe Wilson and not to publish his lies. They offered, as just one example, Wilson’s insinuations that Vice President Cheney must have been briefed on his trip to Niger — after all, he went at Cheney’s behest! – vs. what really happened, which is that Cheney asked the CIA if there was any substance to the claim that Hussein had sought to buy uranium from Niger; the CIA decided to investigate; at which point Valerie Plame recommended her husband for the trip.
But the short paragraph above lists only one lie Joe Wilson was telling reporters that summer – oh yes, there are more – and that’s the reason administration officials were telling reporters about Wilson’s wife: not to “out” her as a matter of revenge, but to set the record straight regarding Wilson’s serious (and seriously false) accusations.

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