Thursday, May 25, 2006

Anti-heros of the fourth estate

Magnusson pushed away the vodka bottle as though it was too close to him.

"I started as a 15-year-old trainee at one of the Stockholm newspapers," he said. "That was in the spring of 1955. There was an old night editor there named Ture Svanberg. He was almost a big a drunk as I am now. But he was meticulous at his work. And he was a genius at writing headlines that sold papers. He wouldn't stand for anything sloppily written. Once he flew into such a rage over a story that he tore up the copy and ate the pieces, chewed the paper and swallowed it. Then he said: 'This isn't coming out as anything but shit.'

"It was Svanberg who taught me to be a journalist. He used to say that there were two kinds of reporters. 'The first kind digs in the ground for the truth. He stands down in the hole shovelling out dirt. But up on top there's another man, shovelling the dirt back in. There's always a duel going on between these two. The fourth estate's eternal test of strength for dominance. Some journalists want to expose and reveal things, others run errands for those in power and help conceal what's really happening.'

"And that's how it really was. I learned fast, even though I was only 15. Men in power always ally themselves with symbolic cleaning companies and undertakers. There are plenty of journalists who won't hesitate to sell their souls to run errands for those men. To shovel the dirt back into the hole. Paste over the scandals. Pile on the semblance of truth, maintain the illusion of the squeaky-clean society."
— Henning Menkel, Sidetracked

On September 29, 2003, three days after it became known that the CIA had asked the Justice Department to investigate who leaked the name of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, columnist Robert Novak telephoned White House senior adviser Karl Rove to assure Rove that he would protect him from being harmed by the investigation, according to people with firsthand knowledge of the federal grand jury testimony of both men.


Rove testified to the grand jury that during his telephone call with Novak, the columnist said words to the effect: "You are not going to get burned" and "I don't give up my sources," according to people familiar with his testimony. Rove had been one of the "two senior administration" officials who had been sources for the July 14, 2003, column in which Novak outed Plame as an "agency operative." Rove and Novak had talked about Plame on July 9, five days before Novak's column was published.

Rove also told the grand jury, according to sources, that in the September 29 conversation, Novak referred to a 1992 incident in which Rove had been fired from the Texas arm of President George H.W. Bush's re-election effort; Rove lost his job because the Bush campaign believed that he had been the source for a Novak column that criticized the campaign's internal workings.

Rove told the grand jury that during the September 29 call, Novak said he would make sure that nothing similar would happen to Rove in the CIA-Plame leak probe. Rove has testified that he recalled Novak saying something like, "I'm not going to let that happen to you again," according to those familiar with the testimony. Rove told the grand jury that the inference he took away from the conversation was that Novak would say that Rove was not a source of information for the column about Plame. Rove further testified that he believed he might not have been the source because when Novak mentioned to Rove that Plame worked for the CIA, Rove simply responded that he had heard the same information.

— Murry Waas, "Rove-Novak Call Was Concern To Leak Investigators"


Anonymous wrd said...

Setting the Rove-Novak story aside (and it shouldn't be!), I think you might consider blogging full-time. The Mankell lead-in was excellent!

Friday, 26 May, 2006  

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