Dateline: 01 August 2007
If Karl Rove, the President’s campaign and communications advisor had been exposed as misusing government resources to blacken the name of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, I think we could guarantee blanket negative coverage of this by the mainstream media. In fact we have had the bizarre spectacle of more than two years standing in which ridiculous non-entities like Joseph Wilson have been given huge coverage in their campaign against Rove. Wilson wanted to see Rove “removed from the White House in chains” over a leak involving Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame.
Wilson’s evidence against Rove was little more than criminality was the sort of thing that Wilson thought he might do. An investigation lasting over a year and costing millions concluded that the leak was not criminal and Rove was not responsible anyway. None of this prevented the media from pretending that Wilson’s campaign was something significant. Another person not responsible for the leak was sentenced to prison for apparently lying during the investigation. More blanket coverage. And, of course, because the person worked in Dick Cheney’s office, it was fine to hint that Dick Cheney was behind the campaign.
So it seems a little odd that the Governor of New York is getting such gentle treatment from the media over a real scandal, the fabricated leaks against State Senate Majority Leader, Joseph Bruno. It bears repeating that the information leaked about Valerie Plame’s nepotism was true, which distinguishes it utterly from the invented material leaked about Bruno.
Imagine if, as well as leaking information from the White House, the Bush administration had made use of the FBI to investigate Harry Reid. There seems little doubt that the New York Times would regard this as only one step away from a police state. The fact that the Governor’s office involved state police in a bogus investigation of Joseph Bruno seems of less interest to the paper. Darren Dopp, Eliot Spitzer’s closest campaign advisor, has been suspended without pay, indefinitely, as a result of his part in this scandal. He also lied to investigators, the offence which secured Scooter Libby a prison sentence in the Plame kerfuffle. Informed observers are betting that ‘indefinitely’ will turn out to be about a month. Another aide has been moved from his role as liaison to the state police, though it is unclear what new duties he will have.
So a suspension from employment when an aide of Eliot Spitzer’s lies about his role in leaking fabricated information about a political opponent. This compares with a prison sentence (later commuted) when an aide of Dick Cheney’s lies about his non-role in leaking true information about a political opponent.
Not only that, in covering the event the New York Times threw in the gratuitous remark that Spitzer “came into office less than seven months ago with a reputation for integrity and . . . promised to bring a new ethical climate to Albany.” This reputation for integrity exists nowhere outside the New York Times. And neither the leaking of disinformation about opponents, nor the uncritical reporting of them by some elements of the media, represents a new climate in Albany.
Dopp’s behavior runs far closer to Spitzer than the Watergate burglary ever did to Richard Nixon. So perhaps it is time to revive the key question: what did the Governor know, and when did he know it?
Quentin Langley is editor of http://www.quentinlangley.net an academic at the University of Cardiff and is a columnist with Campaigns & Elections. This article was first published in the Common Sense series for Lake Champlain Weekly.