NBC's Gregory falsely reported that Wilson said Cheney "set up" trip to Niger

››› ››› JOE BROWN

On Hardball, NBC News' David Gregory repeated the false statement that Joseph C. Wilson IV "alleges" that Vice President Dick Cheney "set up" Wilson's CIA-sponsored trip to investigate reports that Saddam Hussein's regime had purchased yellowcake uranium from Niger, and "that Cheney knew ... that [Wilson] was going and knew of his findings." In fact, Wilson has never claimed that Cheney or Cheney's office sent him to Niger; rather, Wilson has maintained that he was dispatched by the CIA and that Cheney did not know that Wilson went to Niger.

On the April 6 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, NBC News chief White House correspondent David Gregory repeated a false statement, frequently reported in the media, that former U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV "alleges" that Vice President Dick Cheney "set up" Wilson's CIA-sponsored trip to Niger in February 2002 to investigate reports that Saddam Hussein's regime had purchased yellowcake uranium from that country, and "that Cheney knew ... that [Wilson] was going and knew of his findings." Gregory explained that, therefore, Cheney did have a "personal interest" in refuting Wilson, a vocal critic of the White House's decision to invade Iraq and whose wife's identity as a covert CIA operative was leaked by White House officials to reporters. But as Media Matters for America has previously noted, Wilson has never claimed that Cheney or Cheney's office sent him to Niger; rather, Wilson has maintained that he was dispatched by the CIA -- which was responding to a request from Cheney's office to investigate the purported uranium transaction -- and that Cheney did not know that Wilson went to Niger.

Gregory's falsehood echoed that of the Republican National Committee, which misrepresented Wilson's July 6, 2003, op-ed in The New York Times -- in which he described his trip to Niger -- and distorted a remark Wilson made in an August 3, 2003, interview on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer. Wilson clearly stated in the op-ed that "agency officials" had requested he travel to Niger. In his CNN appearance, Wilson also stated that it was "absolutely true" that Cheney was unaware he went on the trip.

From the April 6 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: So, all that evidence does suggest that [former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis] "Scooter" Libby was checking with the vice president point-by-point, being informed by the vice president, not only of the evidence but of the point of view of the vice president throughout, and now are we to believe that the vice president's chief of staff acted completely on his own when he outed the identity of Valerie Wilson to reporters, which is also on the record?

GREGORY: Right. Let's go back -- first of all, we're talking about July 2003. That's when Wilson writes the op-ed in The New York Times, and then, of course, later, I believe July 14, is when [syndicated columnist] Bob Novak's column comes out in The Washington Post.

So, the point here is that Wilson alleges that the trip was set up essentially by the vice president, that Cheney knew of why -- that he was going and knew of his findings. So, the vice president did have a personal interest in saying, "Whoa, that was not the case." And in fact, that was not the case, that the vice president ordered him to go or arranged the trip. And there's a big controversy about whether he was ultimately briefed on the results.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Intelligence, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
David Gregory
Show/Publication
Hardball
Stories/Interests
CIA Leak Investigation
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