CAUTION: Media Beating In Progress..!!!
The New York Times made headlines last week when it tapped a new D.C. bureau chief. But if the paper of record really wanted to jump-start its Beltway news operation, maybe it should have tried to lure Patrick Fitzgerald away from the Department of Justice.
Let's face it, as special counsel in charge of investigating the Valerie Plame CIA leak, and now the lead prosecutor in D.C. federal court methodically laying out the damning evidence of perjury, obstruction, and lying against Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Fitzgerald has consistently shown more interest -- and determination -- in uncovering the facts of the Plame scandal than most Beltway journalists, including the often somnambulant D.C. newsroom of The New York Times.
Indeed, for long stretches, the special counsel easily supplanted the timid D.C. press corps and become the fact-finder of record for the Plame story. It was Fitzgerald and his team of G-men -- not journalists -- who were running down leads, asking tough questions and, in the end, helping inform the American people about possible criminal activity inside the White House.
It's true that Fitzgerald's team had subpoena power that no journalist could match. But reporters in this case had a trump card of their own: inside information. Sadly, most journalists remained mum about the coveted and often damning facts, dutifully keeping their heads down and doing their best to make sure the details never got out about the White House's obsession with discrediting former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV by outing his undercover CIA wife, Valerie Plame.
So as the facts of the White House cover-up now tumble out into open court, it's important to remember that if it hadn't been for Fitzgerald's work, there's little doubt the Plame story would have simply faded into oblivion like so many other disturbing suggestions of Bush administration misdeeds. And it would have faded away because lots of high-profile journalists at The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, and NBC wanted it to. <so much more>