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Split Screen Bimbos: This Is How We Get Our Information?

Tonight’s episode of Hardball was truly staggering. Jim VandeHei pipes up and announces that Stephen Hadley told Karl Rove about Valerie Plame’s identity early in the game, prior to his conversation with Robert Novak:

We do know from the indictment of Scooter Libby that there certainly was a conversation between Libby and Rove where it was mentioned that Bob Novak (no relation to Viveca) was making phone calls and asking about Valerie Plame and that they discussed it. We still don’t know where Karl Rove originally learned about Valerie Plame. That’s still one of the mysteries. We know one of them, he had heard it from was Hadley as sort of just chatter inside the office, but he had learned it earlier from some other place and we still don’t know where that is.

I really had to pick myself up off the floor. Nobody batted an eyelash. Were Chris Matthews and Norah O’Donnell just so completely uninformed that they did not recognize what a bombshell this was? They just sat there nodding and blinking like this was no surprise that people inside the White House were casually gossiping about Valerie Plame’s identity over the water cooler.

Did they not realize that up until now any knowledge of the mad gabbing and plotting had been limited to the Vice President’s office? That other than the memo from Karl Rove following his conversation with Matt Cooper nobody had ever tied Hadley to the leak? I guess they did not want to appear stupid, but they wound up looking all the stupider for it.

I called Crooks & Liars headquarters, where through the magic of Tivo I heard it again 7 or 8 times. Yep, that’s what he said. Then I immediately called Digby and emailed Jeralyn just to make sure I hadn’t staggered into some Ionesco play by accident, had not lost my mind and dropped some critical bit of information along the way. Nope, this was news all around.

Up until now, the only story we had about Rove’s original source was that at some point, Rove may have testified that it was Robert Novak. From the AP:

Presidential confidant Karl Rove testified to a grand jury that he learned the identity of a CIA operative originally from journalists, then informally discussed the information with a Time magazine reporter days before the story broke, according to a person briefed on the testimony.

The person, who works in the legal profession and spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, told The Associated Press that Rove testified last year that he remembers specifically being told by columnist Robert Novak that Valerie Plame, the wife of a harsh Iraq war critic, worked for the CIA.

His testimony may have changed later on to say that he heard it from another journalist whose identity he could not remember, but nobody ever said Hadley. Although according to Murray Waas, the last time Rover appeared before the grand jury, the subject of Hadley was something Fitzgerald wanted to pursue:

Rove will be pressed about issues as to why his accounts to the FBI and grand jury have changed, or evolved, over time. He will also be questioned regarding contacts with other senior administration officials, such as then-deputy National Security advisor Stephen J. Hadley and I. Lewis Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney in the critical week before the publication of columnist Robert Novak’s column on July 14, 2003, which outed Plame as a covert CIA operative.

Rove is also referred to in the Libby indictment as "Official A," who evidently told Libby on July 10 or July 11 that he’d spoken with Novak earlier in the week and that Novak would be writing a story. But it’s Rove who told Libby, not the other way around.

The whole Hardball episode was surreal. Norah O’Donnell started jabbering about how Robert Luskin is saying that his conversation with Viveka Novak took place in January, 2004 — although up until now this had only been attributed to anonymous sources. Again, not an eyelash batted by anyone on the set. Then she went on about how Viveca told Luskin that Karl Rove being Matt Cooper’s source was the talk of everyone throughout Time Magazine. Was it? That’s not what Viveca Novak claims. Is Norah O’Donnell letting us in on a scoop, or is she just incredibly stupid and prone to overheated, fact-free exaggeration?

The incredible ignorance of the people covering this matter only clouds the waters of an already confusing situation. And if I were Jim VandeHei’s editors I’d have his head on a plate for breaking a story like that on national TV and not in the pages of the WaPo where they’re paying his salary.

I guess I should allow for the possibility that VandeHei has no idea what he is talking about, just started blathering and slipped up. But he really needs to clear this one up post haste.

Update: Crooks & Liars has the video up now, you can decide for yourself.

Update: Jeralyn has her take on the boy bimbo’s slip.

(post edited to include more of VandeHei’s statement as it became available)

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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