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Josh Marshall and the TPM Crew School the MSM
LA Times Does the Right Thing and Acknowledges True Investigative Journalism
By Desi Doyen on 3/19/2007 6:02am PT  

Guest blogged by DES...

Just thought we would take a moment to applaud the stellar work of Josh Marshall and his reporters over at Talking Points Memo and sister site TPM Muckraker, for their dogged pursuit of the truth underlying the firings of eight U.S. Attorneys --- a story that has led to serious questions over the prosecutorial independence of the U.S. Department of Justice. (This isn't Marshall's first time at the rodeo --- the "Duke" Cunningham and Jack Abramoff scandals also sprung from Marshall's keyboard, among others back when the MSM didn't find them worth much of their time.)

Saturday's edition of the Los Angeles Times gives credit where credit is due, acknowledging Marshall & Company's stellar work --- in a huge feature story on the front page, no less!

[I]t was here in a neighborhood of bodegas and floral wholesalers that, over the last two months, one of the biggest news stories in the country — the Bush administration's firing of a group of U.S. attorneys — was pieced together by the reporters of the blog Talking Points Memo.

The bloggers used the usual tools of good journalists everywhere — determination, insight, ingenuity — plus a powerful new force that was not available to reporters until blogging came along: the ability to communicate almost instantaneously with readers via the Internet and to deputize those readers as editorial researchers, in effect multiplying the reporting power by an order of magnitude.

In December, Josh Marshall, who owns and runs TPM , posted a short item linking to a news report in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about the firing of the U.S. attorney for that state. Marshall later followed up, adding that several U.S. attorneys were apparently being replaced and asked his 100,000 or so daily readers to write in if they knew anything about U.S. attorneys being fired in their areas.

For the two months that followed, Talking Points Memo and one of its sister sites, TPM Muckraker, accumulated evidence from around the country on who the axed prosecutors were, and why politics might be behind the firings.

Hopefully Mainstream Corporate Media denizens will take a cue from the LA Times and cite the blogs they use as sources. Give credit where it is due. It's really not that hard. Maybe now the MSM can all move on from the ridiculous old vs. new journalism feud-mentality and get on with the pursuit of the truth.

Congratulations to Talking Points Memo and TPM Muckraker. You guys rock.

(Photo credit: Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times)

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Listen Up Sunday @ 12noon PT (3pm ET) on 1480kphx.com
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2007 10:35am PT  

I'll be sitting in as Guest Host for the good Cynthia Black this Sunday on Nova M / Air America Phoenix' Action Point with Cynthia Black on 1480am KPHX.

I hope those of you in Phoenix and not in Phoenix will find a moment to listen in. Should be a good show.

Scheduled Guests include...

  • Noel Runyan, an expert on technologies for the blind and author of the new study "Improving Access to Voting" as well as a recent open statement signed by more than twenty blind and disabled voting advocates calling for "an immediate ban" on Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, often called touch-screen) voting systems.

Listen up online right here on Sunday @ 12noon PT (3pm ET)
And call in with your questions/comments at: 800-989-1480

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By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2007 1:50pm PT  

Don Rumsfeld 2/7/2003: "It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months"

George W. Bush 5/1/03: "My fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."

Dick Cheney 6/20/05: "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

AP 3/17/07:

WASHINGTON - Denouncing a conflict entering its fifth year, protesters across the country raised their voices Saturday against U.S. policy in Iraq and marched by the thousands to the Pentagon in the footsteps of an epic demonstration four decades ago against another divisive war.

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Falls for Ridiculous '9/11 Mastermind' Story With Screaming Front Page Headline, Buries U.S. Attorney Purge Scandal...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2007 10:30pm PT  

We can't imagine why anybody would want to continue giving money to the Los Angeles Times.

After the better part of the last year or two, since being purchased by the Rightwing Chicago Tribune, the paper has been gutted. It's become little more than the Fox "News" Channel on newsprint. While that may be an exaggeration, it's not much of one. We were reminded again of that tonight when we finally took a few minutes' break from sifting through the avalanche of actual news as available on the Internets, to get a quick look at today's carbon-based LA Times front page.

Yesterday, as the U.S. Attorney Purge scandal was hitting its most fevered pitch to date, with Gonzales, Rove, et al. being thoroughally sucked into the vortex with all manners of leaked e-mail, documents, statements, calls for resignation, and more flying out...Josh Marshall at TPM filed this hysterical squib:

BREAKING! 9/11 Mastermind who confessed to being mastermind after being captured like five years ago confesses again at Gitmo hearing and now the transcript is released by the Pentagon to get Gonzales off the front pages!

BREAKING!

And then what do you suppose we find on the front page of today's LA Times...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Republican Commentators Misstate Chronology, Facts
Corporate Mainstream Media All Too Happy to Offer the Platform for Demonstrable Untruths...
By Margie Burns on 3/12/2007 10:55am PT  

*** Special to The BRAD BLOG
*** by Libby/CIA Leak Trial Correspondent Margie Burns

After sitting in on the Libby trial every other day and posting about it on BRAD BLOG, I had intended not to write further about the matter barring new developments. Unfortunately, the rightwing spin machine has launched a new campaign of misstatements that sound intentional.

So much for respecting authority, upholding the law, and appreciating honest hard work: now that a conscientious jury has rendered a verdict of guilty on four of five counts of perjury and obstructing justice for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the GOP noise machine is vilifying the prosecution and smarmily denying any wrongdoing, any at all, in the CIA leak.

So much for conservatism.

Well, bad sports are bad sports, anywhere on the political spectrum. Still, the brazen willingness of commentators subsidized by Rupert Murdoch or the Bradley Foundation to falsify every significant fact in the Libby matter, usually without having sat even one day in court for the trial, is pretty much typical of their work ethic and intellectual rigor.

Sunday morning’s talk shows were representative. George F. Will and Torie Clarke on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos downplayed the CIA leak matter by saying the whole thing “all arose from one column” (Will), a column not very important at that (Clarke).

The right wing is trying hard to keep this one alive. But trial evidence and testimony have revealed that the attempt to “leak” – actually, plant – Mrs. Wilson's name with the media began BEFORE Wilson’s column was published.

Wonder why GOP supporters of George W. Bush find that so uninteresting....

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 3/11/2007 1:26pm PT  

The Los Angeles Times continues to beg readers to cancel their subscriptions altogether.

Their latest plan: Dump the progressive, interesting, non-white comic strips.

Last week, the Times decided to dump both Candorville, whose strip we've been running here from time to time --- the only one, mind you, that we're aware of which dealt with the e-voting issue directly. La Cucaracha, the paper's only Latino-based strip (in LA!), was dumped at the same time.

The latter was re-instated after a flood of reader complaints. So far, no return of Candorville, however, the last African-American related strip of note in the once-great Los Angeles newspaper, now gutted by its conservative Chicago Tribune owners/rapists. The Trib also recently canceled the strip as well.

We've gotten to know Darrin Bell, the strip's creator, a bit over the last year or so. He sent The BRAD BLOG the following announcement a few days ago on the latest corporate-media idiocy, noting that though his strip has been dumped, "Blondie and Marmaduke are still safe" at the Times.

The only good news in the bargain: The world's unfunniest "comic strip," Mallard Fillmore, has been put out of our misery. Finally. A dead duck we can all be happy about.

"Without at least one of these two papers," Bell writes in regard to the cancellations at both the Times and the Trib, "Candorville can't continue to annoy the knuckledraggers in two of our most important cities, and the strip itself may not be long for this world."

He also asks that complaints be sent to readers.rep@latimes.com. We join him in that request, and are happy to post his note in full below...

Hello fellow America-hating Osama-huggers...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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So Much for 'Supporting the Troops'
MSNBC Doesn't Have Much to Be Proud of Either...
By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2007 6:36pm PT  

Pounding on several deadlines at once, so for the moment, here's something to chew on...

References to Anna Nicole and Walter Reed on cable networks on March 2:

NETWORK ANNA NICOLE WALTER REED
FOX NEWS 121 10
MSNBC 96 84
CNN 40 53

Courtesy of ThinkProgress, with more details here...

Discuss.

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Were Cheney, Bush and Their Top Aides Briefed on the Reports Revealing the Niger/Uranium/Iraq Deal Was Bogus?
What the Records from the CIA Briefing Books Might Show...
By Margie Burns on 3/6/2007 9:35am PT  

*** Special to The BRAD BLOG
*** by Libby/CIA Leak Trial Correspondent Margie Burns

Testimony in the Libby trial from CIA briefer Craig Schmall, who had the unenviable task of getting up in the wee small hours to brief Vice President Cheney and Lewis "Scooter" Libby from Summer 2002 through the end of May 2004, establishes that the tables of contents of the CIA briefing binders for that period “still exist.”

As Schmall states clearly on the record, when he sent the briefing binders to shredder and burn bag, he kept the topic headings – where, not stated. But somewhere in the Executive, at this moment, rest stacks of Tables of Contents with at least a short-title indication of what Cheney, Libby and others, including Rumsfeld, were briefed on, for any given date.

Presumably Schmall isn’t the only intelligence briefer who kept these things, either. His trial testimony and exhibits refer to two previous briefers, one unnamed, for Cheney and Libby.

At this point it would be ludicrous for the administration to try to keep those tables of contents secret by claiming “national security.” There would be far more potential damage to domestic security in leaving a giant secret stash of blackmail material around...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Trial Docs, Testimony Reveal Admin Reasons for Outting CIA WMD Analyst May Be More Than Simple Retaliation Over 'Yellowcake' Op-Ed...
What Were They REALLY After?
By Margie Burns on 2/25/2007 4:57pm PT  

*** Special to The BRAD BLOG
*** by Libby/CIA Leak Trial Correspondent Margie Burns

In today’s Washington Post ombudsman column, “Covert Question, Open Controversy,” Deborah Howell says, “Wilson's New York Times op-ed piece, critical of the Bush administration's use of intelligence, set off a chain of events that led to the disclosure of Plame's job.”

But information and testimony revealed during the course of the Libby Trial indicates that it wasn't Wilson's op-ed piece that set the off the chain of events leading to their disclosure of the CIA WMD analyst and her covert network. The Bush administration began its campaign to discredit Valerie Plame/Wilson at least a month prior to the release of her husband's article.

I can’t criticize Howell for her focus on the op-ed as the ball that got the campaign rolling. I, and most of the media, having been basically taking the same line in previous postings on this topic. Most of the writers on the CIA leak have been doing the same. Joseph Wilson’s book, The Politics of Truth: A Diplomat's Memoir: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity, takes the same tack: that the outing of CIA analyst Valerie Plame, Wilson’s wife, was retaliation for Wilson’s July 6, 2003, op-ed column, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.”

But when Wilson wrote his book, he did not have access to behind-the-scenes discussions about his wife now revealed through the perjury and obstruction trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff. Retaliation there was, in spades, but testimony and documents in the Libby trial demonstrate, unrefuted, that administration discussion of Mrs. Wilson began several weeks before Wilson’s column appeared.

The reasons why are still unclear, and the prosecution was not permitted to delve into ramifications of the leak. But that the administration was already targeting both Wilson and his wife, Valerie --- overseeing a crucial intelligence network monitoring WMD activity in the middle east --- is now beyond question.

So why, beyond Wilson's op-ed, was the Bush Administration previously so intent on discrediting one of its own CIA assets?...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Administration coordinated a PR firing squad, put together ad hoc PR hit on the Wilsons
The collateral damage was to classified, objective WMD analysis at the CIA...
By Margie Burns on 2/22/2007 1:08pm PT  

*** Special to The BRAD BLOG
*** by Libby/CIA Leak Trial Correspondent Margie Burns

At this writing, the jury is out in the perjury and obstruction of justice trial of I. Lewis Libby, former chief of staff for Vice President Cheney. When I left the courthouse this afternoon, Judge Reggie Walton was attending a memorial service, with the jury still deliberating for the second day.

I can make no prediction as to the trial outcome. However, in the interim some media outlets are pushing or falling into an insidious line that the Libby case is either too difficult and obscure to understand, or too trivial to bother with. Setting aside the allegations against Libby individually, this line is dangerous, partly because it is so blatantly the reverse of accurate. The CIA leak matter itself is actually very simple.

What the Libby case is about...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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The Bush Administration, its Loyal Supporters and Now Even the Washington Post Help Spread the Demonstrably Misleading Canard
But Why?
By Margie Burns on 2/19/2007 11:05am PT  

*** Special to The BRAD BLOG
*** by Libby/CIA Leak Trial Correspondent Margie Burns

One of the pettiest distortions connected with the CIA leak matter is simple: the flat-footed, bogus claim that Ambassador Joseph Wilson said he was ‘sent’ to Africa by Vice President Cheney.

Wilson did not make the assertion, but White House operatives and their media/think-tank allies continue, even today, to forward the fiction that he did.

This claim – that Wilson went around saying Cheney sent him to Niger – has been recycled by the rightwing echo chamber every time the radar screens registered some political fallout from the CIA leak case (many examples shown below). It has also arisen during testimony in the Libby trial.

However, the MSM (except Fox) have not parroted the same claim – with the interesting exception of NBC, mainly Chris Matthews.

Regrettably, this bogus claim is again given space in Sunday's Washington Post, in an article by the hard Bush partisan and former Reagan Justice Department attorney, Victoria Toensing, called “Trial in Error.”

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Libby's Team Drags Iran in By the Head and Shoulders
Are they trying to piggyback a war boost with Iran onto trial?
By Margie Burns on 2/14/2007 9:03am PT  

*** Special to The BRAD BLOG
*** by Libby/CIA Leak Trial Correspondent Margie Burns

Two major items from the trial on perjury and obstruction charges of I. Lewis Libby, former Chief of Staff for Vice President Cheney, yesterday, as I heard in the courtroom: one was that Libby would not be taking the stand in his own defense, and Cheney would not testify on his behalf, “after all.” The other was that one defense attorney used a substantial chunk of testimony to plug war with Iran.

Predictably, the first item got more media attention. But the second one is more dangerous.

Sitting in on the trial every other day, I have never thought Libby likely to testify in his own defense...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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WH wanted intelligence agencies to push story of Iraq WMD
The same bogus Niger uranium story had to be corrected again and again
By Margie Burns on 2/11/2007 3:16pm PT  

*** Special to The BRAD BLOG
*** by Libby/CIA Leak Trial Correspondent Margie Burns

As the congressional report released in 2004 (referenced in previous blog) makes clear, if U.S. intelligence agencies were unable to connect Iraq to weapons of mass destruction before the war, it was not for lack of trying.

From May 2002 to September 2002, five documents were produced by the intelligence community pertaining to Iraq WMDs. A CIA briefing book prepared on May 10, a Department of Energy (DOE) intelligence report on July 22, and a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) intelligence assessment in September all mentioned the Niger uranium issue, although the DOE report included caveats. The US embassy in Niger cabled on June 24, 2002, about an IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) agreement safeguarding Niger uranium. A CIA paper was published on August 1, 2002, titled ‘Iraq’s Reemerging Nuclear Program,’ but did not mention Niger uranium. (48)

As noted in the previous blog on this topic, investigation had ruled out any threat from Niger uranium in regard to Iraq. Evidently these efforts were not good enough. In September and October 2002, according to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee report, the White House contacted the intelligence community at least five times to clear language regarding alleged Iraqi efforts to purchase uranium. On September 11, 2002 – the first anniversary of 9/11 --- the NSC asked the CIA to clear uranium language for inclusion in a possible statement by Bush...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Russert omitted any mention to his audience of his FBI interview in CIA leak investigation...
By Margie Burns on 2/8/2007 6:09pm PT  

*** Special to The BRAD BLOG
*** by Libby/CIA Leak Trial Correspondent Margie Burns

What did we learn from Tim Russert today, children?

Well, for one thing, we learned that Mr. Russert was interviewed – apparently willingly --- by the FBI about the CIA leak matter back in November, 2003. Under cross-examination by Libby defense attorney Theodore Wells, Russert disclosed that he had been questioned by FBI Special Agent Eckenrode, formerly the case agent for the Plame matter. Russert said that Eckenrode was the one who informed Russert that Libby had said he (Russert) was his (Libby’s) source on the item that Mrs. Wilson, wife of former ambassador Joe Wilson, worked in the CIA. “Mr. Eckenrode shared with me what Mr. Libby had said.”

Russert is on record as testifying firmly and clearly that he did not tell Libby about Mrs. Wilson; he was not Libby’s source. Though he would do well to be equally clear and direct about everything concerning his involvement in the matter...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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The Reporter Who Stepped up to the Plate, Pinned Scott McClellan on CIA leak
No wonder the White House tried to keep her from asking questions...
By Margie Burns on 2/5/2007 8:50am PT  

*** Special to The BRAD BLOG
*** by Libby/CIA Leak Trial Correspondent Margie Burns

Yesterday, we looked at faux-journalist "Jeff Gannon's" assiduous work at planting administration propaganda during White House press briefings. His "questioning" of then-Press Secretary Scott McClellan seems to have been focused quite specifically on the story line --- which we now know to be wholly false --- as being propagated by Office of the Vice President. In retrospect, it leads one to wonder just what Gannon's relationship to the OVP might have been.

On the other side of the coin, the real journalist, Helen Thomas, seemed to be cutting quite close to the bone when she opened the White House press briefing with questions about the CIA leak on Monday, September 29, 2003. An unnamed "senior administration offical" in the WashPost the day before had said that two administration officials had mentioned Mrs. Wilson’s CIA link with at least six Washington journalists, and shouldn’t have done so.

After – or during – this press briefing, things started happening even faster; the DOJ requested the FBI to investigate the leak, Bob Novak made a defensive television appearance on Crossfire, and DOJ notified the CIA that its Counterespionage division had also requested an investigation.

The briefing itself shows White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan aggressively trying to evade even a direct denial that the White House was involved, though he opened with the now-quite-dubious "The President expects everyone in his administration to adhere to the highest standards of conduct. No one would be authorized to do such a thing."

Here's how Thomas's line of inquiry began and continued that morning...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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