Skip to comments.Karl Rove: Abusing the First Amendment and Using Reporters
Posted on 07/05/2005 2:21:05 PM PDT by rface
A man who taught with Karl Rove, and considers him a friend, writes that in the Valerie Plame case, Rove is using journalists, and the First Amendment, "to operate without constraint, or to camouflage breaking the law." That's why neither reporters Cooper and Miller, nor their publications, should protect the behavior of Rove (or anyone else) "through an undiscerning, blanket use of the First Amendment that weaken its protections by its gross misuse."
(July 05, 2005) -- In 99.9 percent of cases I know, journalists must not break the bonds of appropriate confidentiality, to protect their ability to report, and to defend the First Amendment. Ive testified in court to that end, and would do so again.
But the Valerie Plame-CIA case that threatens jail time for reporters from Time and The New York Times this week is the exception that shatters the rule. In this case, journalists as a community have been played for patsies by the presidents chief strategist, Karl Rove, and are enabling him to abuse the First Amendment, by their invoking it.
To understand why this case is exceptional, one must grasp the extent of Roves political mastery, which became clearer to me by working with him. When we taught "Politics and the Press" together at The University of Texas at Austin seven years ago, Rove showed an amazing disdain for Texas political reporters. At the same time, he actively cultivated national reporters who could help him promote a Bush presidency.
In teaching with him, I learned Rove assumes command over any political enterprise he engages. He insists on absolute discipline from staff: nothing escapes him; no one who works with him moves without his direction. In Texas, though he was called "the prime minister" to Gov. George W. Bush, it might have been "Lord," as in the divine, for when it came to politics and policy, it was Rove who gave, and Rove who took away.
Little has changed since the Bush presidency; all roads still lead to Rove.
Consequently, when former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson challenged President Bushs lie that Saddam Hussein imported yellow-cake uranium from Niger to produce nuclear weapons, retaliation by Rove was never in doubt. While it is reporters Matthew Cooper of Time and Judith Miller of The New York Times who now face jail time, the retaliation came through Rove-uber-outlet Robert Novak, who blew the cover of Wilsons wife, CIA operative Valerie Plame.
The problem, as always, in dealing with Rove, is establishing a clear chain of culpability. Rove once described himself as a die-hard Nixonite; he is, like the former president, both student and master of plausible deniability. (This past weekend, in confirming that Rove was indeed a source for Matthew Cooper, Rove's lawyer said his client "never knowingly disclosed classified information.") That is precisely why prosecutor Fitzgerald in this case must document the pattern of Roves behavior, whether journalists published, or not.
For in this case, Rove, improving on Macchiavelli, has bet that reporters wont rat their relationship with the administrations most important political source. How better for him to operate without constraint, or to camouflage breaking the law, than under the cover of journalists and journalism, protected by the First Amendment?
Karl Rove is in my experience with him the brightest and most affable of companions; perhaps I have been coopted, for I genuinely treasure his friendship. But neither charm nor political power should be permitted to subvert the First Amendment, which is intended to insure that reporters and citizens burrow fully and publicly into government, not insulate its players from felony, or reality.
Reporters with a gut fear of breaching confidential sources must fight like tigers to protect them. But neither reporters Cooper nor Miller, nor their publications, nor anyone in journalism should protect the behavior of Rove (or anyone else) through an undiscerning, blanket use of the First Amendment that weakens its protections by its gross misuse. Bill Israel teaches journalism at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst). He has worked for several leading newpapers.
The left's obsession with Rove is so entertaining.
HA! The same felony and reality the press inuslated Clinton from??
I thought everyone knew that.
"Consequently, when former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson challenged President Bushs lie that Saddam Hussein imported yellow-cake uranium from Niger to produce nuclear weapons, retaliation by Rove was never in doubt. While it is reporters Matthew Cooper of Time and Judith Miller of The New York Times who now face jail time, the retaliation came through Rove-uber-outlet Robert Novak, who blew the cover of Wilsons wife, CIA operative Valerie Plame. "
Uh! So Wilson is beyond reproach, but Bush lied about the yellow-cake. Me thinks thou dost protest too much, Mr Israel.
Teaching journalism at UMass - Amherst, - hardly qualifies Bill Israel as an objective source.
First, President Bush did not claim Hussein had imported yellow-cake uranium (or any kind of uranium) from Niger (or any other specific country in Africa).
Second, Bush's statement (how could anybody forget those "16 words") was that we had learned from British intelligence that Hussein had recently attempted to import uranium from Africa; the British intelligence community continues to stand by that report.
Third, Rove didn't need to retaliate as the new media were able to find plenty of Wilson's own statements to discredit his opportunistic cheap shots at the President.
We must not forget the fact that these are the people who will take the word of a murdering terrorist for the very gospel.
Consequently, when former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson challenged President Bushs lie that Saddam Hussein imported yellow-cake uranium from Niger to produce nuclear weapons, retaliation by Rove was never in doubt.
This is a lie within a lie. Bush didn't accuse Iraq of importing yellow-cake, he accused them of aspiring to import it, which was demonstrably true based on information available publicly.
Wilson himself is a liar. His statements are riddled with inaccuracies, which any newsman should have been able to pick apart given the interest and will to do so.
Iraq's trade mission to Niger was public knowledge (why Bush credited British intelligence with it is beyond me, since it wasn't secret). What we have learned since is that Niger secretly smuggled yellow-cake to Libya (Wilson's "proof" that Niger would never engage in illegal sales was that, well, they were illegal).
Well, he does look like Rush Limbaugh.
That's not journalism he's teaching...
I never heard of Editor and Publisher until they started running anti-Bush stories this past year. They seem to be somewhere to the left of Mao TseTung and somewhat stupider than al gore.
Does he seriously believe that the New York Times would risk jail to protect the White House?
As flawed as they are, the NYT is more than likely interested in protecting the use of anonymous sources in general, not the WH in particular.
"But how would you grade this clever fiction?"
If he's doing it to pander to lefties handing out speaking engagement honorariums, A+.
I'm surprised that the source was deemed acceptable; many aren't.
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