From Seattle writer and consultant Matt Rosenberg...

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No Indictment Of Karl Rove's Garage

October 18, 2005

I still remember many years ago, when I worked at community newspaper in suburban Chicago, and was covering lots of crime and courts stories. One day I was utterly appalled when another reporter revealed ignorance of what an indictment was. As you doubtless are aware, an indictment is a formal issuing of charges by a grand jury, after hearing evidence from a prosecutor. An indictment is followed by an arraignment (wherein the defendant makes a preliminary plea of guilty or, usually, not guilty). Then, pre-trial motions of all sorts may follow, and finally, lacking a pre-trial settlement or plea agreement, there's either a bench or jury trial. I go through all this now not to finally convince you beyond a reasonable doubt that I am indeed a pedant, but more as a refresher course for some of the national reporters breathlessly covering the story of the story (that's not a typo) of the grand jury testimony of presidential advisor Karl Rove. He has been questioned in connection with a suspected Bush Administration leak which revealed that the wife a Bush critic had been an undercover CIA operative quite some time before her husband got on the White House's nerves.

Apparently, among the D.C. press corps, the drama of tryng to find Karl on one of his grand jury testimony days, and the entirely distinct drama of waiting for Karl to decline comment while walking to his car after grand jury testimony, is getting to be a bit too much to bear. And so, we get this penetrating AP story by Darlene Superville about.......the inside of Karl Rove's garage. Yeh....seriously.

And this piece, about, well, pretty much nothing at all, by the Washington Post's Dana Milbank. Unless you think news consists of writing about a bunch of jumpy reporters waiting for Rove outside the grand jury room, while three women from an anti-war group, and dressed as condoms, stage a protest about Rove "leaking."

Of course, these sort of "thumbsucker" pieces, long on worthless and self-indulgent pontification by the writer, and short on any real substance, are a forte of The Post's Milbank, who in one recent column wastes quite a few dead trees analyzing Bush's body language during TV interviews on Rove. When Milbank finally gets around to justifying his column's earth-shaking premise that Bush's on-camera movements signal unease, he cuts his own legs out from under himself.

Perhaps, too, the president's body language said nothing about his true state of mind. But the White House gave little other information that might shed light on this.

TRANSLATION: important newspersons such as Dana Milbank of The Washington Post have a constitutional entitlement to know The President's "true state of mind" on well, just about anything that important newspersons such as Dana Milbank of The Washington Post choose to write about. And if The President and his press apparatus refuse to make that clear, well, they will clearly suffer the consequences.

Career tip to Milbank: when people start mentioning the phrase "ankle-biter" next to your name, it's time to sharpen the 'ol scimitar a bit.


TO COMMENT: The regular "comment" feature is not in operation. E-mail comments to address under "Contact" on main page masthead, and I'll add them, here.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at October 18, 2005 10:08 AM

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