I first posted the following on my blog: www.davidcorn.com. If you’re obsessed with the Rove scandal, visit that site for more news, analysis, and gripes.
Now that I’ve been sucked into the right-wing disinformation machine, I am struck by how unrelenting it is. Cliff May posted a dumb column claiming that Joe Wilson told me on background that his wife was an undercover operative and that I was the first person to really out Valerie Wilson (nee Plame). I debunked that nonsense here. But pesky May still sent me email asking me to explain what I had already explained. By not accepting my explanation–and by claiming that what I’ve written previously is misleading–he is essentially calling me a liar. I take such things personally. (This fellow once asked me if I would be willing to be his partner in a right/left cable-TV face-off. I’m glad it never came to pass.) And there he was again yesterday on CNN expanding his web of fabrication. He said:
You can say what you want about Bob Novak. He has insisted since the beginning that he didn’t know she was a secret agent. He just knew she worked at the CIA. Nobody told him that. And if he had known she was secret, he wouldn’t have published her name. Now who did publish her name first was David Corn of “The Nation,” and he was the first one to say she was a secret agent, and he did that in a conversation with, guess who, with Joe Wilson.
How does one combat repeated silliness of this sort? Who knows what Novak would have done had he been told Valerie Wilson was an undercover officer? And maybe he was told. All we know is that Novak claims the CIA informed him it would prefer if he not name her but did not go ballistic about it. This tale may be true; it may not. (In his own account, Novak still turned down the CIA.) Moreover, Novak did publish her name first. It’s right there in the column that prompted the CIA to ask the Justice Department to investigate the White House. CNN anchor Carol Costello should have stopped May and told the audience he was either lying or misspeaking. And May states as a fact that Wilson told me his wife was an undercover officer, even though he has no evidence of this and I have said precisely the opposite. What chutzpah! He doesn’t even have an anonymous source to rely on. Is this the sort of journalism he learned when working at The New York Times? Or did he perfect his smear skills when he subsequently served as a spokesperson for the Republican Party? In his absurd article, he at least had the courtesy to present his bogus charge as the product of his own deductive reasoning (as defective as it was). On CNN, he stated as a fact that Wilson had spilled the beans to me about his wife–which is not true.
Having responded fully to his initial piece, I was not going to fuel this sideshow with further comment. But yesterday, I was on a public radio program–Warren Olney’s To The Point–discussing the Rove scandal with Byron York, a columnist for the National Review. And as our segment was ending, he piped up and said, Well, Bob Novak didn’t really out Valerie Wilson as an undercover official; it was David Corn. The show was ending, and I barely had time to exclaim, “Preposterous,” and refer listeners to my website. But this is what happens: one person launches an unfounded smear and then others employ it. The point: I’m now thrown on defense, and, perhaps more importantly, a distraction has been achieved.