Accuracy in Media

Spy scandals might be sexy, but does the Valerie Plame “scandal” really deserve to be ranked alongside the sex scandals of Larry Craig, Anthony Weiner, and John Edwards? Earlier this month, ABC News ranked the Top 10 Political Scandals of the 21st century in a primetime special. Eight of the ten were sex-related scandals; one was about Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor now serving a prison term for corruption; and the other was what the Bush administration supposedly did to the career of “outed CIA agent” Valerie Plame.

“Tonight an outrageous, irreverent, top 10 list of the bad boys club,” stated the voice-over for the special. But they never quite say who the “bad boy” is in the case of Valerie Plame. The real scandal is ABC’s inclusion of this story as one of its Top 10.

A spokesperson for the network said that “A panel of politicos helped us put together the top ten scandals of the century.” Those politicos reached outside the “bad boy” box to target what they considered an abuse of power, but they widely missed their mark. One might question whether the IRS or Benghazi scandals of the Obama administration might deserve to be included as top political scandals of the 21st century, given the direction taken with Plame and the abuse heaped on the Bush administration here. Then again, those might have actually reflected badly on the Obama administration, a theme almost always off-limits for the mainstream media.

When asked about the motivations behind choosing these particular scandals, a representative for ABC wrote AIM that “Part of what made this show unique was the input from political players and pundits across the political spectrum. Many scandals were discussed—these generated the most and the most passionate discussion so that’s where we focused our efforts.” It was described as “an unscientific and fun countdown.”

However, early on, viewers of this program, produced by Lincoln Square Productions, a production house owned by ABC News, were assaulted with two minutes of error-filled misrepresentations and lies about Valerie Plame and the Bush administration, ranked Number 9 of the 10 scandals.

The section heavily features Plame talking about her husband and those who “outed her,” supposedly for political reasons. “It just felt like I had been sucker-punched. I was concerned about the assets with whom I had worked with over the years, because they were in jeopardy,” said Plame in the segment.

Now she gets to make movies, write books, and go on television to talk about what happened to her—all the high profile actions of someone who doesn’t seem at all concerned about what happens to those who knew her in her former career. Or maybe she thinks at this point it doesn’t matter. But at some point it did. “To expose Valerie Plame, and put her at some risk, shows just how angry they were and how vindictive they could be. It was an abuse of power,” claimed Terry Moran, ABC News Chief Foreign Correspondent, during the broadcast. This fits with the set of events as Plame and Wilson would wish their audience to see them.

It ignores the fact that Wilson deliberately placed himself in the spotlight in the first place. “Those news stories about that unnamed former envoy who went to Niger? That’s me,” wrote Wilson in a 2003 op-ed. Not content to be cited as a source regarding the evidence for the absence of nuclear weapons in Iraq, Wilson had to go on record as the source himself. He outed himself to the media, as this column shows.

I pointed out in a report critiquing the movie based on Plame’s book, Fair Game, many of the distortions and inaccuracies built into her story. Stan Crock, in World Affairs Journal, wrote, “Valerie Plame says in her memoir that she read the report that the CIA wrote immediately after debriefing Wilson on his trip and also read his column before it was published. She added that she thought the column was accurate. She said the report was only a few pages long. No one, let alone a professional intelligence officer, could have missed the part about Iraq trying to buy yellowcake. She had to know the column was wrong, but evidently said nothing. So she was anything but an innocent bystander as her husband created a political firestorm.”

The late Christopher Hitchens, in 2006, reported that there was indeed evidence that Saddam Hussein may have sought uranium from Niger, contrary to Wilson’s report.

Even The Washington Post called Joe Wilson a “blowhard,” and said that all of the major claims in his op-ed “were false.”

But, according to the ABC broadcast, “Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA spy until someone in the White House blew her cover because they were pissed at her husband. Wow.” Actually, it was State Department official Richard Armitage, who was himself opposed to the war in Iraq, who leaked Valerie Plame’s CIA identity to the late Robert Novak. Novak was also opposed to the war, and wrote regarding the duo, “Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me that Wilson’s wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report.”

The ABC segment on Plame took the time to highlight the film Fair Game, but not what the media has said about its falsifications and misrepresentations. As I wrote in 2011, “The three basic lies of the story they tell are these: 1) The Bush administration knowingly lied us into war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq by twisting evidence to make people believe that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and was a threat to this country; and 2) when former ambassador Wilson blew the whistle on Bush and Cheney for doing so, they got back at him by outing his wife, a covert CIA agent; and 3) Scooter Libby led the White House effort to out Ms. Plame and discredit her husband, and then took the fall for the administration.”

“Within these lies are a whole series of lies and misrepresentations and deliberate damage done to the reputations of a lot of people.”

The Washington Post said the film is “full of distortions—not to mention outright inventions.”

This ABC segment continues Wilson and Plame’s lies and misrepresentations by appearing to rely on the same tales that we and others have already debunked. They should know better. It’s unfortunate that this story has to be re-litigated time and again.

If political scandals were in their pile of considerations, what about the scandals of the Obama administration, including Operation Fast and Furious, Solyndra, using the IRS to target and hamstring political enemies during an election cycle, Benghazi—not to mention lying to the American people to sell them Obamacare, promising “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it. Period.” No scandals there?




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Comments

  • burkanuck

    I would hardly call the Larry Craig incident a scandal. If he were a Democrat we wouldn’t even know his name. The only reason it could be included in any kind of “scandal” report is the liberal media lynching of a Republican.
    For a bunch that is tries non-stop to normalize homosexuality they sure go out of their way to make it appear lewd and lascivious when a Republican is the one accused of engaging in it, even if that “engaging” involved nothing more than playing footsies while on the toilet. The left are just sickening.

  • URLNTS

    What’s the Repub Plan to get these people Health Care(beside this one)?

  • URLNTS

    Right Einstein,we have never heard about Anthony Wiener or Elliot Spitzer.(A Wiener Spitzer,that even sounds like a sex act)
    And “nothing more than footsies while on the toilet”,you Repubs have some weird bathroom rituals,so this is the new GOP playground…weird “people”,playing weird games in even weirder places?

  • burkanuck

    Whatever you say, “Einstein”. I guess in the land of the left-wing loon comparing what Spitzer and Weiner did is to Craig’s stupidity is a comparable comparison. Keep on posting, you just continue to prove my point even though your deluded little leftist peabrain doesn’t grasp it. Hilarious.

  • Shawn Lane

    Spitzer frequented brothels. Weiner texted pictures of his (covered) penis to women. Craig PLEADED GUILTY to soliciting for gay sex in an airport men’s room. THEN, he feebly tried to get it covered up. THEN, and to THIS DAY, denies he did WHAT HE ALREADY ADMITTED TO! And that’s not a scandal? Seriously? Are you THAT deluded?

  • Shawn Lane

    The Bush administration (probably under orders from Cheney but we’ll never know) purposely outed the identity of a covert CIA operative. ALL of the nonsense that came from you and the rest of the right-wing noise machine was nothing but claptrap designed to cover up that FACT. Scooter Libby was convicted of perjury for lying about it under oath. And you’re going to write an entire piece whining that it shouldn’t be considered a scandal? Unreal.

  • burkanuck

    Yeah, you just proved the point of my reply to the last braindead leftist who posted. “Deluded” idiots like you simply prove the adage that liberalism is a mental disorder. Uh, and Weiner’s “weiner” was NOT covered you bloody idiot. It just shows how stupid and uninformed leftists are when you make such profoundly ignorant comments. Try and get some information from sources other than huffpo and MSLSD and maybe we can talk, moron.

  • burkanuck

    Um… it was later proven that it was a dem who outed the “CIA operative” and that Scooter Libby simply passed on the info he had gotten. Are you seriously so profoundly uninformed you don’t know this stuff or are you being paid by some Soros outlet to make yourself look like a complete idiot? Shut the hell up until you can discuss things with informed adults. What a fool.

  • Shawn Lane

    I’m the fool? You don’t understand the meaning of the word “proven”. “Scooter Libby simply passed on the info he had gotten.” Are you f-ing serious? He just innocently “passed” it along all nonchalant and stuff? Please.

  • burkanuck

    Yes…you’re the fool. If you don’t know the story that has come out since the liberal outrage over this joke of an “incident” then you aren’t worth my time. I am utterly amazed at how profoundly ignorant of facts liberals are.
    Your Bush/Cheney/Palin derangement syndrome makes it impossible for you to accept the actual reality of anything that exposes the filth that is the left.
    You obviously don’t know the facts of the any of the things being discussed here so just shut up and let the adults talk.
    “Better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” YOU are an absolutely stellar fulfillment of that proverb.

  • Shawn Lane

    They “outed” a covert US asset. Spin it any way you want. Your heroes are assholes. And so are you. And your team is led by twin sisters that will never win. Enjoy your day.

  • burkanuck

    Now why would you attack the Sedins? They are from socialist Sweden, isn’t that what you and your ilk want to see everywhere?
    Knowing I have driven a deluded, drooling, leftist fool to demonstrate his ignorance will make my day most enjoyable, thank you.

  • Shawn Lane

    Oh c’mon! I’m a Hawks fan. I HAD to say something about the Canucks! (I do love Bieksa. I wish we had him.)

  • burkanuck

    If that’s the case then you shouldn’t be calling my heroes a-holes because my biggest hero growing up was Tony Esposito!

  • Shawn Lane

    Awww crap. Mine too. Seriously. I loved that guy. He makes commercials here for a liquor distributor. OK then. We’ll agree to disagree on politics and bond over hockey. Deal?

  • burkanuck

    Hahaha…deal. Seriously, I cannot dislike someone whose hero was Tony 0. My little brother played university hockey with his kid and he was at their place a few times and NEVER GOT ME AN AUTOGRAPH!!!

  • Shawn Lane

    Disown him! I remember a game at the old Stadium against the Red Wings. Tony O gave up, like, 8 goals. He couldn’t stop anything. Late in the 3rd, he made a great save and got a standing ovation. He took his mask off for a drink, shrugged his shoulders and waved. It was awesome. He knew everyone loved him and was just having a bad night. God, that was like 40 years ago. I was around 10. Good times, man. (And I actually have a lot of respect for the Sedin twins. I could watch them play all day.)

  • burkanuck

    The Sedins have donated something $2,000,000 to the Children’s Hospital in Vancouver and visit there to cheer up the kids. No cameras, no fanfare, they do it because one of their kids spent some time their when they were born and they are showing their appreciation. They are as classy as they come.

  • Shawn Lane

    I know that whenever they play the Hawks, the Hawks’ announcers ALWAYS mention how classy those guys are. We have a little kid that “interviews” Hawks players sometimes for intermission videos and such. He interviewed the Sedin twins about being twins and it was adorable. I’ll post it if I can find it.

  • Shawn Lane