Monday :: Oct 6, 2003

Rove Did Talk to Media About Plame-Focus on Rice's NSC

by Steve

Next week’s edition of Newsweek, written by Evan Thomas and Michael Isikoff of Lewinsky fame, asserts that Karl Rove did in fact call “Hardball” host Chris Matthews to finger Joe Wilson's wife for sending him to Africa days after Bob Novak's column, and after Wilson's original critical op-ed. A source close to Wilson confirms that Matthews told Wilson that Rove spoke to him, and Matthews does not deny this.

Wilson told NEWSWEEK that in the days after the Novak story appeared, he got calls from several well-connected Washington reporters. One was NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell. She told NEWSWEEK that she said to Wilson: “I heard in the White House that people were touting the Novak column and that that was the real story.” The next day Wilson got a call from Chris Matthews, host of the MSNBC show “Hardball.” According to a source close to Wilson, Matthews said, “I just got off the phone with Karl Rove, who said your wife was fair game.” (Matthews told NEWSWEEK: “I’m not going to talk about off-the-record conversations.”)

A source familiar with Rove’s conversation acknowledged that Rove spoke to Matthews a few days after Novak’s column appeared, but said that Rove never told Matthews that Wilson’s wife was “fair game”—rather, that it “was reasonable to discuss who sent Wilson to Niger.”

So while denying the “fair game” comment, there is no denial from Rove that he spoke to Matthews about fingering Wilson's wife for his assignment. And Matthews is in essence confirming that he had an off-the-record call with Rove aimed at trashing Wilson and his wife. You can see how Rove can get away with saying he didn't do it, if he is having off-the-record calls with these six reporters: Rove is betting the house that none of the six is gutsy enough to "out" Rove and lose all future access, as well as face the wrath of Hurricane Karl.

The Newsweek story concludes that if you assume that the leaking didn’t come from a “partisan gunslinger” as Bob Novak now asserts, then the leak came from the White House national security apparatus. The media have been foolishly following the trail too high and overshooting, a la Watergate in the early days, and suggesting that Cheney’s chief of staff Scooter Libby did it, which has subsequently been denied.

But it is entirely plausible that the leaking came from the inept NSC of Condi Rice, and perhaps the already-demonstrated weasel Stephen Hadley, Rice’s deputy, who you will remember couldn’t get his story straight as to whether or not he remembered the CIA’s objections to the Niger story in the first place.

If Hadley was already operating with a religious conviction that Hussein was trying to obtain uranium and develop nuclear weapons, no matter what a lack of evidence said to the contrary, then why is it hard to believe that he would do whatever was necessary to undermine Wilson’s credibility and his motives?

And Novak himself feels just enough heat from this to have obtained his own attorney.

Steve :: 12:49 PM :: Comments (12) :: Digg It!