(Note: “The Power of the Jump”™ is a semi-regular feature of this site, documenting examples of the Los Angeles Times’s use of its back pages to hide information that its editors don’t want you to see.)
“OK, team. We all know that Richard Armitage leaked Valerie Plame’s identity. But how can we suggest that the leaker was really Dick Cheney, without actually coming out and saying it?”
If you listen closely, you can almost hear the editors of the L.A. Times asking themselves that question, as they put together yesterday’s article on the first day of the Scooter Libby trial.
The article is titled Cheney’s key role in leak case detailed. That headline alone implies Cheney was behind the leak. The deck headline continues the misdirection: “A former aide testifies in Libby’s trial that the vice president directed the effort to discredit a CIA agent’s husband.” Everyone knows that the leak of Plame’s identity was part of that effort to discredit Wilson, so the implication is reinforced. And the lede sentence reads:
In the first such account from Vice President Dick Cheney’s inner circle, a former aide testified Thursday that Cheney personally directed the effort to discredit an administration critic by having calls made to reporters in 2003.
What about Richard Armitage? Richard Armiwho? The article professes ignorance of the identity of the real leaker, and continues to imply that Cheney was behind the leak:
Cheney dictated detailed “talking points” for his chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and others on how they could impugn the critic’s credibility, said Catherine J. Martin, who was the vice president’s top press aide at the time.
Libby is on trial on charges of obstructing an investigation into how the name of a CIA operative, Valerie Plame, became public. The government says her identity emerged in conversations Libby had with several reporters. It is illegal to knowingly divulge the name of a CIA employee.
(Actually, no. It’s illegal only if it’s a covert employee.)
Not until Page A17 does the article finally admit — in passing, in the 15th paragraph — that the witness had no indication that Libby or Cheney actually leaked Plame’s name:
But Martin said that neither Cheney nor Libby had suggested that the identity of Plame be divulged as part of the game plan. She said that she had no knowledge of either actually doing so.
Coming as late as it does, this does little to rebut the clear implications of the headlines and first paragraphs that Cheney and Libby leaked Plame’s identity. Worse, the name of the actual admitted leaker, Richard Armitage, is not mentioned once in the story. Armitage’s admission is mentioned only at the tail end of a misleading accompanying timeline — one that also suggests, until the very end, that Libby was the leaker.
Business as usual at the L.A. Times, which has worked hard over the years to distort every aspect of this story against the Administration.
Thanks to Curt W.
P.S. The web version of the story is accompanied by this picture:
Cute. They’re not saying it, mind you — because there’s a question mark! That makes it okay — and so very objective!