"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I Am the Slime 

So, here we are. Waiting for the first shoe to drop, in a sense. Sure, there's been plenty of juicy buildup in the Plame matter - culminating with the dueling NYT articles this past weekend - and several fascinating undercards (Abromoff; Frist), but the fireworks show coming up is the main event, and no matter what else happens, it will be huge. If Patrick Fitzgerald produces nothing, then that's one big story. But that's not the way this is going to play out - there will be indictments, and they will be significant. Fitzgerald wouldn't be allowing the drumroll to crescendo (even adding to it himself, at one point, by announcing that he will make any announcements in DC, instead of his home base of Chicago) if he knew that it was all a big build-up to nothing. I repeat: There will be indictments, and they will be significant. Others feel it, too - Billmon compares it to the temblors before Mount St. Helens blew her top, while ReddHedd calls it a "gathering storm." And Josh Marshall wonders what secret lies at the core of the story, but feels instinctively that it's big. Make no mistake, this is a cusp in our history.

But - then what? Lots of folks are pointing to this post at Bull Moose, in which one of McCain's own foot soldiers remembers:
No, if he indicts, nothing else will matter to the GOP smear team than sullying the reputation of the special counsel. Hopefully, he has no unpaid parking tickets, has never jaywalked or removed a label from a mattress. If he has committed these misdeeds, we will see them advertised as a screaming headline on Drudge. They will do a "South Carolina" number on Fitzgerald.

And indeed, the model is in place, as we watch Tom DeLay (the other huge story) doing some "slime and defend" on Ronnie Earle. In both instances - and perhaps others, as the whole rotting carcass that is the contemporary Republican Party comes under examination - the crucial element must be a careful and honest news media, willing to tell the stories of these criminals' exploits without being dragged into bogus "he said/she said" false equivalancies, if our system of republican government and our commitment to the rule of law are to survive.

I do not overstate the stakes - we need our media to do their jobs now, and do them well, or maybe the game is up altogether. This is important - please, get it right. An example of how journalism may be done well in this environment, I commend the reader to this article from USA Today, in which DeLay's ludicrous complaining is duly reported, and then methodically refuted by means of a cold-hearted statement of the facts.

And, for those who (like me) can't get enough Plame news and analysis - if you aren't reading firedoglake, you're missing the story.




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