The Washington Post On The Plame Case

Two weeks ago NYU Journalism professor Jay Rosen wrote this:

Just one man’s opinion, but now is a good time to say it: The New York Times is not any longer–in my mind–the greatest newspaper in the land. Nor is it the base line for the public narrative that it once was. Some time in the last year or so I moved the Washington Post into that position..

The Post, I believe, is our great national newspaper now; the Times is number two, with the Wall Street Journal close behind. Still a strong fleet. With a new ship in the lead perhaps it will sail to unexpected places.I agree (as do others) that The Post is now the benchmark. Perhaps it’s a geographic advantage that The Post holds – being ringside to Republican and Democratic administrations – that has (for the most part) depoliticized their pages. With a few exceptions*** you won’t find rabid Bush Derangement Syndrome at The Post, something you’re bound to find at the The Times even after they walled off online access to the likes of Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd. The Post is far from perfect, but while The Times has for several years made news for it’s scandals, The Post has made news for it’s innovations.

One of the “unexpected places” The Post has sailed is to some pretty darn good coverage of the Valerie Plame identity leak investigation. Yesterday The Post nailed the essence of the Plame case in this editorial (Rush to Judgment):

This affair began with a trip to Niger undertaken by former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, which he said disproved one of the Bush administration’s contentions about Saddam Hussein and nuclear weapons. Columnist Robert D. Novak reported that Mr. Wilson had been chosen in part because Mr. Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA; Mr. Wilson then charged that administration officials had deliberately blown his wife’s undercover status to punish him for his truth-telling.

If so, they should be punished. Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald may have evidence that they did; there is a still a great deal that is not publicly known. But so far, in the accounts given by reporters about their conversations with administration officials, no such crime has been described. What has been depicted is an administration effort to refute the allegations of a critic (some of which did in fact prove to be untrue) and to undermine his credibility, including by suggesting that nepotism rather than qualifications led to his selection. If such conversations are deemed a crime, journalism and the public will be the losers.Make sure you read the whole editorial, as Post editors do a better job of defending Judith Miller from the sniping criticism of colleagues than her own paper is doing.

*** Cataloged extensively at PostWatch

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