In covering Libby indictment, CNN's King repeated false claim about Niger trip

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

In covering the October 28 indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby for his role in the alleged outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, CNN senior political correspondent John King falsely claimed that on the July 6, 2003, broadcast of NBC's Meet the Press, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, Plame's husband, claimed that Vice President Dick Cheney sent him to Niger in 2002. In fact, Wilson never made that claim on Meet the Press, nor has Media Matters for America been able to identify any instance in which Wilson has claimed Cheney sent him to Niger. The false claim that Wilson stated or implied that Cheney sent him to Niger is significant to the controversy surrounding the alleged outing of Plame. The administration's defenders have claimed that the White House had a legitimate interest in setting the record straight by disclosing that Plame, not Cheney, was actually responsible for Wilson's being sent to Niger. The assertion that Plame recommended Wilson is in dispute, and the CIA has refuted it.

Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff, was indicted for perjury, for obstruction of justice, and for making false statements during special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald's investigation into the alleged leak.

From CNN's October 28 live coverage of the Libby indictments:

KING: And you will remember, once Joe Wilson went public, one of the things he said that infuriated the White House is he said publicly, I believe it was on the NBC program Meet the Press, but I'm not positive, that it was the vice president who asked the CIA to send him, and that is when the vice president's office geared up their effort even more to rebut that fact. They said the vice president had no knowledge of the trip, did not request the trip at all. I believe everyone agrees now that what happened was the vice president said he wanted more information about Saddam's nuclear program, or alleged nuclear program, and the CIA then decided one way to get that information was to have this Wilson trip take place.

In his July 6, 2003, appearance on Meet the Press, Wilson never claimed that Cheney's office requested he investigate the reported sale of uranium from Niger to Iraq. Instead, Wilson said: "The question [regarding Iraq's reported attempts to obtain uranium from Niger] was asked of the CIA by the office of the vice president." King's statement echoes the false Republican National Committee talking point that "Wilson falsely claimed that it was Vice President Cheney who sent him to Niger."

Posted In
Justice & Civil Liberties, Crime
Stories/Interests
CIA Leak Investigation
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