Woodruff ignored Novak's role in Plame affair when discussing bill inspired by the case


On the April 29 edition of CNN's Inside Politics, host Judy Woodruff asked CNN commentator and syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak about legislation (S. 340 and H.R. 581) recently introduced in Congress that would restrict the ability of federal courts to compel journalists to reveal confidential sources, but she failed to mention Novak's link to that legislation. In fact, the bill was a response to subpoenas of Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time by a special counsel investigating government leaks that led to the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame -- by Novak.

In other words, Woodruff chose to ask Novak about legislation resulting from a criminal investigation into events involving Novak without noting his involvement and despite Novak's reported policy of refusing to talk about the Plame affair. According to Congressional Quarterly Weekly columnist A.B. Stoddard:

Novak refuses to talk to friends or reporters (including yours truly, of course) about the scandal he created. Novak carries on unruffled, writing his twice-weekly column, giving speeches and performing as TV pundit. The fact is, there is no real pressure to talk. The mainstream media establishment he blisters is protecting Novak and playing by his blackout rules: Ask about the case and an interview ends, and that includes a promise to walk off a television set as well. [CQ Weekly, 4/8/05]

According to The Washington Monthly, Novak won't allow the topic of the Plame affair to come up on CNN's The Capital Gang either:

The topic hasn't come up on "The Capital Gang," for instance, because, according to one source at CNN, "Bob is the executive producer and he has more say than anybody else. ... He won't talk about it." Novak's role at the show means that he gets to determine what subjects do -- and, more importantly, do not -- get discussed. But couldn't one of the other panelists bring it up, even so? "You have to understand," said the source, "this is Bob's show. He's the boss." [Washington Monthly, December 2004]

From the April 29 edition of CNN's Inside Politics:

WOODRUFF: Okay. All right, another piece of legislation to shield reporters from prosecution, not getting much support?

NOVAK: I love this story. The very distinguished and popular senator from Indiana, Republican Richard Lugar, put in this bill -- co-sponsored with Chris Dodd [D-CT] -- asked for co-sponsors. He only got three co-sponsors, all Republicans. A companion bill in the House by Republican congressman Mike Pence of Indiana only got 24 co-sponsors, 14 of them Republican. The fact, is, Judy, the members of Congress, particularly the Republicans, just don't like reporters very much. And, in fact, one of the Republicans told me, they'd just as soon them go to jail if they don't testify before a grand jury.

WOODRUFF: I guess that's a surprise, isn't it? That they--

NOVAK: Big surprise.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.