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Thursday, December 11, 2008
Newsmax Flip-Flops on Patrick Fitzgerald
Topic: Newsmax

A Nov. 10 Newsmax article by David A. Patten claimed that "Barack Obama will face a severe 'trial by fire' over whether to fire U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald and other U.S. attorneys, following Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s arrest Tuesday for allegedly offering to sell Obama’s vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder," adding that "any move to fire Fitzgerald would be highly controversial as a possible conflict of interest." Patten goes on to note that "That Fitzgerald suddenly sees Republicans lining up to defend him is profoundly ironic, given that both prominent Republicans and Democrats have found themselves in his investigatory crosshairs over the years," adding:

Fitzgerald’s delicious gift for offending the rich and powerful on both sides of America’s partisan divide was never more evident than in the Valerie Plame Wilson case. On the one hand, Republicans were troubled that Fitzgerald decided to prosecute I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, for perjury charges that had little or nothing to do with the concerns that originally triggered the investigation -- namely, that a Bush administration official may have broken the law by leaking the identity of Plame, a CIA operations officer, to columnist Robert Novak. Libby was convicted, but President Bush commuted his sentence in July 2007.

Patten fails to mention that Newsmax has a prominent role in that twist of irony, having felt less than "delicious" about Fitzgerald's prosecution of of the Plame leak.

As we detailed at the time, Newsmax didn't even wait until Fitzgerald's October 2005 indictment of Libby before smearing him as a partisan, nitpicking crony:

  • Newsmax claimed reports that Fitzgerald's charges would focus on "perjury, obstruction of justice and false statement" raise "speculation that the Leakgate case may devolve into a Martha Stewart-like prosecution, which drew howls of derision from legal critics."
  • Newsmax dismissed Fitzgerald as a "longtime crony" of James Comey, the then-deputy attorney general who appointed Fitzgerald to the special counsel post in 2003.
  • Newsmax called Fitzgerald's 22 months of work before issuing the indictment of Libby "small potatoes compared to the results achieved by Independent Counsel Ken Starr's Whitewater probe over the same period of time," adding: "Starr was appointed to investigate Bill and Hillary Clinton's involvement in the corrupt land deal on August 4, 1994 - and by that December, his office had already secured a guilty plea from the number two man at the Justice Department, longtime Clinton crony Webster Hubbell." (The Whitewater investigation actually began in January 1994 with the appointment of Robert Fiske.)
  • Newsmax tried to smear Fitzgerald by claiming that "the targets of his investigations into political corruption have been overwhelmingly Republican," and claiming that Fitzgerald indicted more than 60 people in connection with wrongdoing connected to former Illinois Republican Gov. George Ryan, compared with two indicted in a probe of Chicago Democratic Mayor Richard Daley. The next day, Newsmax corrected its numbers, admitting that "it's also true that Fitzgerald has done a better job going after Democrats than media reports we cited yesterday would indicate."
  • Newsmax also raised the issue of Fitzgerald being accused of "prosecutorial misconduct" in an unrelated case, but it's not until the second-to-last paragraph that it's noted that a three-judge panel ruled that Fitzgerald did nothing illegal.

After Fitzgerald issued his indictment, Newsmax followed up by putting words in Fitzgerald's mouth and misstating what he had said about the Plame case to make it appear that he said that Plame was not covert.

Isn't it ironic, doncha think?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:58 AM EST

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