Sunday, March 18, 2007

Plame Testifies, Questionable AIDS Cure, Death Squads, Raw Politics, The Donald, And Joe Wilson Interviewed (Friday's Show)

Hi guys. Where did the weekend go? Well, let's get this party started, shall we? We begin tonight with Valerie Plame's testimony regarding her being outed as a CIA agent, which has been anticipated by many since it's the first time she's talked about the case in public. We're shown clips of her testimony and learn that she can't even go out in public with CIA people she worked with because it could put them in danger. Then Tom gives us a recap of how things got to this point. I think we all (should) know the story by now. Administration hell-bent on going to war hears a rumor about Saddam trying to buy yelllow cake uranium in Niger. Ambassador Joe Wilson is sent to check it out and comes back with no evidence that the rumor is true. Administration ignores this, even putting the claim in the State of the Union address after their own CIA director had it removed from a previous speech. Wilson watches said address in shock and then tells his story in an op-ed in the New York Times. Administration (specifically the VP's office) goes insane and moves to discredit Wilson. The storyline becomes Wilson was sent to Niger because of his wife and can't be trusted. Valerie Plame's name is then dangled in front of approximately six reporters with former CNNer (and Jon Stewart's favorite Douchebag of Liberty) taking the bait. Robert Novak then outs Plame in a column and her career is ruined.

The Justice Department then appoints Chicago prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to take the case and he meticulously goes through everything, even jailing journalist (or some would say stenographer for the administration) Judith Miller because she won't give up her source. Meanwhile, the White House press ask Scott McClellan if Karl Rove is involved and he says no. Then the White House press says okey dokey, leaving progressive bloggers to stew. Later the VP's chief of staff Scooter Libby is indicted and Rove is under suspicion. This causes the White House press to say, "hey, they lied to us!" which in turn results in them actually doing their jobs for the first time in years. Scott McClellan is subsequently repeatedly bloodied up, much to the amusement of progressive bloggers. Libby is convicted of perjury, but Fitzgerald is unable to get Rove, though it's clear he was involved. When Plame's name was first leaked Bush promised to get rid of anyone involved, but to this day Rove still has a security clearance. Political drama? Sure. Dead serious? Absolutely. Her outing made us all a little less safe. Okay, so I might have added some stuff to Tom's piece. BTW, Tom claimed who sent Wilson to Niger is still being debated. Uh, not really. And just saying it's debated is a pretty big cop-out.

For some discussion we're next joined by Jeffrey Toobin. Anderson wonders how the story will end. With a book deal of course! Toobin points out that Plame also has a civil suit against those involved, though he thinks the issue of immunity might become problematic. Anderson then asks Toobin what the point was of the hearing. Toobin replies that, "I have covered the Wilson case for, I mean, a year-plus. And, you know, it only was today when I realized exactly what the stakes were." This literally causes this blogger to yell out loud, "What?!!!!" Seriously, Toobin, WTF? How can you have been covering this and not know the stakes?! I don't even know what to say to that, but it's becoming clearer why the coverage of this whole thing has been so bad. Maybe a lot of reporters/analysts just didn't get the whole thing. MSNBC actually did a pretty good job with it since they had one reporter on it from the get-go (David Schuster), which allowed him to get a good handle on all the twists and turns. If I'm remembering right, CNN covered it with whoever was convenient, whenever convenient, and the difference in the coverage showed. And that's why I gave up on turning to CNN for this story a long time ago. Seriously, I think The Daily Show has almost covered it better.

For my own part, I was really on top of things until Vivica Novak got thrown into the mix. Then things got really confusing and everybody was getting thrown in there, even Bob Woodward. Anyway, Toobin then starts talking about how anyone who worked for Plame's front business was also put in jeopardy. Yeah, duh. The weird thing is, he makes up an example (ABC Consultants) instead of just using her actual front business which was also made public by the Douchebag of Liberty. Stay classy, Novak. So I don't know if he doesn't know what it is or what. Anderson wonders if we learned anything new in the testimony. Well, obviously Toobin did. Man, I am still floored by Toobin's comments. Did not make him look good at all. Sorry Toobin. I like you, but it's true.

Transitioning now to a Jeff Koinange piece on an AIDS treatment being used in the African country the Gambia. It seems the country's president is treating AIDS patients with a remedy concocted from a mixture of plants. The president claims his ancestors told him of the treatment in a dream. Uh, okay. He has no medical training what so ever and will only treat AIDS patients on Mondays and Thursdays. Oh, good Lord. However, the people in the program say it works and Jeff tells us none appear to have been coached. Maybe it's the placebo effect? The medically trained health minister also says it's working and the government claims they have scientific proof, though they wouldn't provide that proof to CNN. Other doctors, of course, think this is all quackery and is dangerous. I believe in Jeff's blog about the piece he mentions that they wouldn't let him take any of the treatment to have lab tested, but this wasn't mentioned in the piece. Probably should have been included. Afterwards Anderson gives us skeptical face and says, "Meanwhile, the people are not taking the antiretrovirals that they were taking before taking this concoction." Yeah, I'm not really buying it either, but I guess never say never.

Next up we have an Anderson piece on that New York shooting. The whole thing is pretty much a profile of the shooter. I'm not quite sure the point of this piece, but it was short and there was no discussion with an "expert", so whatever. Moving on to a preview of a special from John Roberts on Baghdad death squads. The clip we're shown is about six widows-five of their husbands were executed by men in police uniforms. Some of the footage is pretty graphic and all is upsetting. I actually watched the special this weekend and it was really good. I'd say it's one of the best CNN Presents/Investigates I've seen. We need more indepth coverage like this. It's funny because for the first 20 minutes or so I was having a major case of deja vu and then I realized I was remembering a piece I read last summer in Harper's that covered Bayan Jabr and the rise of the death squads. It just goes to show that it is possible for television to tell these kinds of stories, though I'm sure an unbelievable amount of work went into it. Anyway, I hope everyone watched, but if not, it's CNN, so you know they'll rerun it at least 3,000 more times.

On now to some "Raw Politics" with Candy Crowley. Maybe this segment will make it after all. I see they've been fiddling with the graphics, but they still need to be majorly toned down. Tonight we learn that Bill Richardson is pro-doobie when it comes to medical issues, as he has stated he will sign a bill in support of medical marijuana. Next we find out that Bill Clinton seems to be chipping away at Obama a little for Hillary. He stated that Obama was ambivalent about the war at first. Obama says not true. And Bill, you're saying this about Obama now, because...? Next we're told that Senator Brownback is supporting Peter Pace's homophobic remarks. Wow, shocker. Finally, John McCain is in some hot water for use of the phrase "tar baby". Does he not pay attention or does he not have a memory? Tony Snow got in trouble for the same damn thing during his first briefing. What is with these people?

Transitioning how to Wolf Blitzer interviewing Donald Trump. Um, why? The Donald totally disses on Bush and the administration. Oh, damn. I agree with The Donald. That's just great. Now I have to reassess everything! I could so care less what that man has to say and think this interview is actually beneath the Wolfbot. But whatever. The Shot tonight is a reporter who gets totally scratched in the face by an unhappy kitty. Both Erica Hill and Anderson crack up though they claim they're laughing "with" her. Uh, yeah, me too. Erica then raises Anderson with a clip of Pinky the cat who digs its claws into this guy's leg. This clip must be so old because I swear I've seen it a zillion times before 360 even existed. Again they laugh and Erica informs us that she was once bitten by a cat on her head. Anderson has remained cat-attack free. I actually have a small scar from one of my cat's claws, but that was more of an accident than an attack. Not to be beaten, Anderson raises again (I almost expect "oooooh's" in the background from the crew), this time showing us a reporter that falls and then screams that she can't breath. Erica and I are both horrified, but Anderson is laughing. Anderson Cooper you are kind of a meanie! And apparently he knows it because he tells us he'll get emails for giggling. Do people seriously email for crap like that? Well, rest easy Anderson in that you won't be getting one from me. I only email about the important stuff. And when you pronounce my state as "Missourah"....because...Grrrrr! There was a weird edit in this whole thing and now I'm wondering what we missed. Probably Anderson being mean again. Heh.

At the top of the second hour Anderson has an interview with Joe Wilson, but I'm tacking it on here since the rest of the hour is a special that I'm not blogging. Joe's got himself a cozy little fire going on in the background of his shot. Anderson asks why Valerie came forward. Joe says it's because she has a story to tell and notes that a lot of lies have been told about this case over the years. Ain't that the truth Back in 2005 I used to debate this case on right-leaning message boards and they were absolutely convinced that it was Joe Wilson himself that would ultimately be the one found responsible for outing his wife. Craziness. Anderson then wonders if the other people that Valerie mentioned in her testimony will ever be held responsible. I'm guessing no. Joe points out that Bush has backed off his promise to get rid of anyone involved with the leak. Next Anderson says, "You've said all along that your wife's name was leaked to discredit you, but we now know that Richard Armitage first leaked your wife's name to Robert Novak and people say he was against the war." I'm not saying he's not, but what people? "People" say a lot of things. Joe then says that it's clear Libby and Cheney were actively engaged in discrediting him. Yes, I believe that all came out in that little trial thing that 360 couldn't find the time to cover much.

Then Anderson says, "There was an exchange when Congressman Tom Davis of Virginia today asked your wife if she was explicitly told that she was covert and she said, and I quote, 'No, but I was covert. I did travel overseas on secret missions.'" Anderson found this confusing, which it was, but the thing is, he's putting words in the Congressman's mouth. What Davis said was, "The Intelligence Identities Protection Act makes it a crime to knowingly disclose the identity of a covert agent, which has a specific definition under the act. Did anyone ever tell you that you were so designated?" Davis then makes clear further in the transcript that what he's really asking is whether or not anyone told her she fell under that specific act. Semantics? Sort of. But it does make a difference as to why she answered the way she did. And Joe must be really tired of answering this question because he replies with, "She was a covert officer. She said that repeatedly. Mike Hayden said it. There was no doubt about it. People who continue to ask the questions about whether she was covert or not, must have been keeping their head in the sand for four years, Anderson." I agree. Not only did Hayden say it; Fitzgerald said it too. This interviewed annoyed me. To be fair, Anderson might not have written the questions, so maybe it's not all his fault, but I felt like I was watching an interview on this case from a few years ago. The interview had a tone like all that stuff is still up for debate, when in reality we just watched a trial that established that Plame was covert and the VP's office was deliberately going after Wilson due to his op-ed. So anyway, I don't know what was going on here, but I would have hoped for something different. The show tonight was okay. A good mix of stories, but the Plame coverage was shakey. B-


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