Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 9, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

NEW PLAME THEORY....A few people have emailed to ask what I thought of Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball's article in Newsweek that proposed a new theory about one aspect of the Plame affair. I ignored it yesterday because I didn't think there was much to it, but since I've obviously dedicated myself to 24/7 Plame blogging, I guess I should at least link to it.

Basically, the article suggests that contrary to what the Washington Post's source told them, the Plame leaker didn't contact six journalists to try and spread the story. Rather, only Robert Novak was contacted, and the other six were contacted after Novak's column was printed.

I'm not sure it matters that much, but in any case their only evidence for this is that Joseph Wilson was not contacted by any reporters until after Novak's column ran. That strikes them as odd. But since those six reporters apparently decided not to pursue the story, the lack of calls to Wilson strikes me as not only not odd, but exactly what you'd expect. Why contact Wilson for a story you're not interested in?

(Isikoff and Hosenball also imply that there's lots of high level gossip that backs up their theory. Maybe so, but that's hard to evaluate, and in any case, as Atrios points out, there's at least one other journalist who was contacted before Novak's column ran. For now I'm going to stay agnostic on this.)

But this is also a good excuse to write about something I've been wondering about for a while: if there really are six journalists who were contacted about this, why haven't they come forward? I don't mean come forward to reveal their source, I just mean come forward to write a piece saying that they were contacted about this. It would be a good story, it's clearly news, and it's not breaking any confidentiality agreements. After all, their source wanted them to write about this.

It seems like there are a few possibilities:

  • There aren't six other journalists. The Post's source just got it wrong.

  • The journalists are all reliable conservatives, and now that the scandal has broken open they are staying quiet because they don't want to undermine the administration.

  • For some reason, they feel that even identifying themselves as leakees would violate source confidentiality in some way. Or else they're just chicken and don't want to run the risk of being served a subpoena.

Just wondering.

Kevin Drum 5:38 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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