Piper has some valuable commentary on the long-forgotten former CIA agent Valerie Plame case, in which allegations of exposing her as a “covert” agent were lobbed against journalist Robert Novak, who wrote a story about her involvement with her husband Joseph Wilson’s trip to Niger to investigate tales of uranium yellowcake supposedly purchased by Saddam Hussein to manufacture WMD. The writers who pen the damning WaPo piece explain:
As two people who drafted and negotiated the scope of the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act, we can tell you: The [Robert] Novak column and the surrounding facts do not support evidence of criminal conduct.
Memories being short in this country, this is unlikely to make an impression in the crowd that believes Bush personally called for Plame’s outing with the intention of ruining Joe Wilson’s career and reputation.
Piper thinks this is more relevant to the quality of editorialism than anything else. With sloppy disregard for anything remotely close to objective reporting, the instant allegations were made that Novak was a messenger of revenge, the call for investigations into the matter assumed too much and failed to dig deeply enough to find the truth. Piper:
Even in the absence of sources who can speak freely, the response from editorial pages and journalism advocacy groups to the Plame affair has been uncharacteristically sloppy. They didn’t know her CIA status, simply assuming that she must have been covert for Novak to exact this retribution on her. They never considered that Plame’s agency role might have been the decisive factor in the CIA sending Wilson, “an expert neither on nuclear weapons nor on Niger,” on the fact-finding mission (and what effort he put in there!). The editorialists and pundits who were screaming for an investigation apparently never thought that other journalists who were tangentially involved might get hauled before a grand jury and sent to jail if they refused. It’s no wonder that so few newspaper readers bother with the staff editorials if this is the average quality of research.
That about sums it up. Newspaper editorial sections have long ago abandoned reasoned debate, investigation, and discourse in favour of shouting matches and shadowy rumour mills. Someone should hire Greg–I have a feeling he’ll be a bit more partial to the actual details and less interested in the sugary crumbs that everyone else seems to fall for every time. Investigative journalist/editorialist waiting in the wings over there in Bethseda, and he’ll work for cheap!