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Friday, July 20, 2007
How's NewsBusters Covering Plame Lawsuit Dismissal?
Topic: NewsBusters

A July 19 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard asks: "A federal judge has just dismissed Valerie Plame Wilson's lawsuit against members of the Bush administration. Will this be the lead story of this evening's newscasts?"

Well, probably not, since -- as Sheppard pointed out -- the lawsuit was dismissed on procedural issues, not on the merits of the case. The better question is: How will NewsBusters cover the dismissal? 

If early posts are any indication, it appears relevant issues will be ignored. Missing from Sheppard's excerpt of the article he linked to the fact that the judge who dismissed the suit stated that he did not rule on the merits of the case, and Plame's lawsuit "pose[s] important questions relating to the propriety of actions undertaken by our highest government officials."

Ken Shepherd, meanwhile, repeated another blogger's false claim that "the offending party, Richard Armitage, wasn't even involved in the suit" -- followed quickly by an update noting that Armitage was indeed a defendant. Shepherd also obsseses over "initial reports" from the Associated Press that omitted information he considered important, thus showing his cluelessness over how the AP and other wire services operate in regard to breaking news -- that is, the focus in initial reports is on getting the basic information itself out first, then fleshing out the story in later updates.

(Shepherd's mention of Armitage is a remnant of another obsession of his -- the false, absurd belief that because that because Armitage leaked Plame's name to Robert Novak, and Novak was the first to report it ahead of the reporters to whom Libby leaked, that Libby's leak somehow magically didn't happen.)

And the headline of Mark Finkelstein's post says all you need to know about it: "NY Times Headline on Plame Lawsuit Dismissal Doesn't Mention Her Name!"

Missing from all of these posts, though, was the revelation that the judge, John D. Bates, is a Bush appointee who has previously ruled in favor of Vice President Dick Cheney. Why should NewsBusters have noted this? Because its writers were, as we've documented, quite upset when news outlets didn't state that two judges who ruled against the Bush administration's "policy of holding a sleeper cell suspect at a military brig without redress in civilian courts" were Clinton appointees. If the judge's appointment history was relevant then, why is it suddenly irrelevant now?

UPDATE: Sometime overnight, the exclamation point was eliminated from Finkelstein's headline. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:48 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, July 20, 2007 8:53 AM EDT

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