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Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Washington Post Mugged by Reality on Woodward's Plamegate Disclosure

Some folks just don't get it until they are mugged by reality. The Washington Post got mugged this week after it was disclosed that Bob Woodward was told by a Bush administration official about Valerie Plame's CIA employment weeks before Lewis Libby, Vice-President Cheney's former Chief of Staff, told The New York Times' Judith Miller.

Woodward's revelation blew a hole roughly the size of a Mack truck in the credibility of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's Plamegate investigation because in explaining his indictment of Libby he pegged Miller as the first journalist to be told about Plame.

Woodward should have told his Post bosses long before he did, so the dressing-down he received from Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie was appropriate. But Woodward and the Post are being excoriated by fellow journalists and the liberal commentariat. And it ain't pretty.

So this morning the Post editorial page editors aim a large dose of common sense in response to these new critics, and in the process allude to the double standard seen so often for so long by critics of the mainstream media:

"But over the years innumerable cases of official corruption and malfeasance have come to light thanks to sources being able to count on confidentiality. It's astonishing to see so many people -- especially in the journalism establishment - forget that now. Many of those who condemn Mr. Woodward applauded when The Post recently revealed the existence of CIA prisons around the world, a story that relied on unnamed sources." (emphasis added)

There it is - For so many mainstream journalists and liberal advocates, it's good when stories damage conservative politicos and their causes but God help those responsible for stories seen as damaging to liberal politicos and causes.

So among the more interesting questions to come out of the Woodward flap is whether this new recognition of the reality of the liberal double standard in the mainstream media will be reflected at the Post in more balanced editorial commentary and more even-handed reporting from the newsroom.

We'll see.