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Meet Dorothy Rabinowitz

dorothyrabinowitz.jpgThere have been a lot of offensive, partisan, woefully misinformed potshots taken at the Libby prosecution the last few weeks, as you well know.   But today, the WSJ goes over the top with an op-ed from Dorothy Rabinowitz (subscr. req.) that is so patently offensive on its face, I had to dig a bit deeper.  And what I found out about Ms. Rabinowitz is something that I had to share:

— Did you know that Dorothy brought the world the Juanita Broderick “Clinton raped me” accusations?  And that it was brought out by the WSJ — not in its news pages, but by Ms. Rabinowitz in its editorial page — just like today’s attempted hit piece against Patrick Fitzgerald?  Convienent to have a fact-free pulpit at your disposal, isn’t it?

— That Rabinowitz has the sort of quirky Judy Miller reportage je ne sais quoi that one might expect from a fact challenged doyenne of the WSJ op-ed page bash and run set.  To wit:

Contacted Monday morning, Rabinowitz conceded the quote in question did not show up on the printed transcripts for the “NewsHour,” but told Salon she was standing by her story. “I do not invent quotes,” she explained. “He said it … I’m not surprised Roger doesn’t remember saying it.”

Rabinowitz, who writes a media log for the Journal’s Web site and who won a Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary in 2001, said she did not tape the “NewsHour” program and threw her notes away, but remembered circling Wilkins’ name on her yellow pad when he made the utterance. She said it was possible that she misattributed the phrase to another “NewsHour” guest, former Washington Post reporter Haynes Johnson. But since Johnson’s father covered World War II with the troops as a reporter himself, it’s doubtful he would be concerned that today’s embedded journalists would make soldiers appear to be “fellow human beings. “If it turns out that I had a fugue of some kind,” Rabinowitz said, “I’ll apologize.”

She suggested Wilkins said the phrase in passing while others were speaking and that’s why it did not show up in the transcripts, and that the “NewsHour” representative was going to review the tape and report back to her. But a check of the complete audio file that “NewsHour” posted online confirms that neither Wilkins nor Johnson — nor anyone else — ever said what Rabinowitz reported.

Perhaps she and Ms. Miller were sharing the same reporters’ notebook grocery bag under the desk filing system.  Classy.

She gives none other than Ann Coulter glowing reviews as the “Maureen Dowd” of conservative outrage branded commentary, and manages to try and link her with McCarthy as two positive peas in a marketing pod.  In what twisted world does this woman live where McCarthy and Coulter are positive additions to the public political scene under any circumstances?

— Apparently, her real job for the WSJ is as a television and media critic, as well as penning conservative mash notes for its op-ed page.   

— And, in that vein, she and her WSJ boss Paul Gigot, apparently thought the Bush speech in NOLA under the kleig lights hit just the right emotional notes for the nation’s wounds.  Too bad folks in the Gulf Coast are still waiting for the come through on all those many broken promises — but apparently for Dorothy, words and mood lighting speak louder than action.

What, you might ask, was so patently offensive about Ms. Rabinowitz’ op-ed?  As it is behind the subscription wall, you may not have read the whole thing, but this excerpt tells you all that you need to know:

It was a noteworthy week on the justice front. Even as Mr. Nifong was facing ethics hearings in North Carolina, Scooter Libby’s attorneys came before trial Judge Reggie Walton, in Washington, to plead for a delay in the beginning of the 30-month sentence the judge had handed down. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s project — the construction of a major case of obstruction of justice out of a perjury rap against Mr. Libby — had come to a satisfactory conclusion.For Mr. Fitzgerald, whose prosecutorial zeal and moral certitude are in no small way reminiscent of Mr. Nifong’s, the victory was complete with those two final judgments: the severe sentence for Mr. Libby, and the judge’s refusal, last week, to allow its postponement pending appeal. The prosecutor’s argument for a heavy sentence emphasized Mr. Libby’s alleged serious obstruction of justice — a complicated effort, considering that there was no underlying crime, or evidence thereof, and that this case, which had begun in alleged pursuit of the leak of a covert agent’s identity was, as the prosecutor himself would finally contend, not about that leak at all.

Just what serious obstruction of justice Mr. Libby could have been guilty of, then, was, at the least, a heady question, though not one, clearly, that raised any doubts in the judge. Neither did Mr. Fitzgerald’s charge — also in pursuit of a heavy sentence — that the defendant had caused, by his obstruction, no end of trouble and expense in government effort.

The obligation to truth, the prosecutor argued, was of the highest importance, and one in which Mr. Libby had failed by perjuring himself. It would be hard to dispute the first contention. It is no less hard to avoid the memory of Mr. Fitzgerald’s own dubious relation to truth and honesty — as, for example, in his failure to disclose that he had known all along the identity of the person who had leaked the Valerie Plame story. That person, he knew, was Richard Armitage, deputy to Colin Powell. Not only had he concealed this knowledge — in what was, supposedly all that time, a quest to discover the criminals responsible for the leak of a covert agent’s name — he had instructed both Mr. Armitage and his superior, Colin Powell, in whom Mr. Armitage had confided, not to reveal the truth.

Special prosecutor Fitzgerald did, of course, have a duty to keep his investigation secret during grand jury proceedings, according to the rules. He did not have the power to order witnesses at those proceedings not to disclose their testimony or tell what they knew. Instead, Mr. Fitzgerald requested Messrs. Armitage and Powell to keep quiet about the leaker’s identity — a request they understandably treated as an order. Why the prosecutor sought this secrecy can be no mystery — it was the way to keep the grand jury proceedings going, on a fishing expedition, that could yield witnesses who stumbled, or were entrapped, into “obstruction” or “lying” violations. It was its own testament to the nature of this prosecution — and the prosecutor.

That prosecution was abetted by the draw of Reggie Walton, a trial judge not disposed to sympathy for the defense. Still, even for a judge with a reputation for toughness and a predilection for severe sentences, the court’s behavior was — there is no other word for it — strange.

You see, according to Dorothy’s World, if a Republican lies to a grand jury under oath, obstructs a case into the exposure of a covert agent what has been referred for investigation to the DOJ directly by the CIA after members of that agents own government at the highest levels were implicated in the leak, and repeatedly lies to FBI agents in order to cover the behinds of his prior boss and other pals in the Bush Administration, it isn’t a crime and it shouldn’t be prosecuted.

And if a jury were to find that four separate federal felony charges were not only substantiated as being broken — but unanimously votes to convict that Republican? Well, they are just imbiciles who should be ignored. As for a federal judge with longstanding crime fighting credentials in his sentencing pattern and a commitment to uphold the rule of law as it is written — and not how non-lawyers on the WSJ op-ed page might wish it had been written with IOKIYAR exceptions built-in? Well, Judge Walton ought to know better than to follow the laws as written, now oughtn’t he?  (And, truly, I hope that Dorothy doesn’t read Judge Walton’s most recent memorandum opinion, because it will make her head explode.  More on that soon…) 

I’d like to say that I am surprised by this. But it is the WSJ, after all, and Barbara Comstock has to earn those new Birkin bags somehow.  Too bad Dorothy Rabinowitz sold her Pulitzer prize cachet, such as it is, so cheaply to the bidder furthest in the gutter — that’s an awful lot of partisan tarnish that won’t rub off any time soon.

(H/T to pontificator for the initial heads up on this fish-wrapping bit of nonsense.)

PS — Big thanks to Joe Klein’s conscience, who found an Opinion Journal link beyond the subscription wall.  Prepare to be incensed…

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com