Times reporter Neil A. Lewis is resolute in his refusal to accurately summarize the central facts of the Libby case. His effort for Monday, Jan 22 recycles his error from Jan 15. Here we go, from his latest:
Mr. Libby had nothing to do with the leak to Mr. Novak, but he testified under oath that he had not disclosed information about Ms. Wilson to other journalists. Ms. Miller and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine told the grand jury that he did, in fact, talk about Ms. Wilson with them. Mr. Libby also testified that he learned of Ms. Wilson’s identity from a third journalist, Tim Russert of NBC News, but Mr. Russert is expected to testify that that is false.
Folks following this case casually will find the actual testimony baffling if the Times is their source of basic information. Let me try for something short and accurate - Libby testified that he learned about Ms. Plame from Dick Cheney, then promptly forgot it until he re-learned it a month later from reporters, specifically Tim Russert (Karl Rove also told Libby that Bob Novak had an upcoming story about Wilson and his CIA spouse). Libby's testimony was that he provided information about Ms. Plame to Judy Miller, Matt Cooper of TIME, and Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post, in each case attributing his information to reporter gossip (Kessler testified that Libby told him no such thing; apparently, Libby over-confessed.)
Any chance that Mr. Lewis will get this right, or that the Times will run a correction? I exhort Mr. Lewis to peruse the indictment of I. Lewis Libby - he will find it to be a font of information, includiong such nuggets as these:
26. As part of the criminal investigation, LIBBY was interviewed by Special Agents of the FBI on or about October 14 and November 26, 2003, each time in the presence of his counsel. During these interviews, LIBBY stated to FBI Special Agents that:
a. During a conversation with Tim Russert of NBC News on July 10 or 11, 2003, Russert asked LIBBY if LIBBY was aware that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. LIBBY responded to Russert that he did not know that, and Russert replied that all the reporters knew it. LIBBY was surprised by this statement because, while speaking with Russert, LIBBY did not recall that he previously had learned about Wilson's wife's employment from the Vice President.
b. During a conversation with Matthew Cooper of Time magazine on or about July 12, 2003, LIBBY told Cooper that reporters were telling the administration that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, but that LIBBY did not know if this was true; and
c. LIBBY did not discuss Wilson's wife with New York Times reporter Judith Miller during a meeting with Miller on or about July 8, 2003.
32. It was part of the corrupt endeavor that during his grand jury testimony, defendant LIBBY made the following materially false and intentionally misleading statements and representations, in substance, under oath:
c. LIBBY advised Judith Miller of the New York Times on or about July 12, 2003 that he had heard that other reporters were saying that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA but LIBBY did not know whether that assertion was true.
As a wildly optimistic aside, the central theme of Mr. Lewis' story is that this case may have changed the legal landscape for reporter-source relationships. All very interesting, but - there remains a possibility that the defense will call as witnesses Nick Kristof, David Sanger, and/or James Risen, all of the Times - all three have had their names bandied about in recent court documents.
Any chance of the Times reporting on that before the event, or will they be as surprised as the rest of us?
Try the overworked, under-respected Public Editor, if they still have one - firstname.lastname@example.org. This Neil Lewis thing has gone beyond ridiculous.