John Gibson Suggests That Jason Leopold Was Source for David Shuster's MSNBC Report of Karl Rove 'Indictment'

With the announcement of Karl Rove resigning his position from the White House, it is time to revisit that infamous report by MSNBC's David Shuster who on Keith Olbermann's Countdown show on May 8, 2006 flatly stated:

I am convinced that Karl Rove will, in fact, be indicted.

When a month later it was announced that Rove would not be indicted, a sheepish Shuster came up with several lame excuses for his monumental misreporting as chronicled by NewsBusters editor Brent Baker in his June 13, 2006 post. Under questioning by Countdown substitute host, Brian Unger, Shuster began by blaming the defense lawyers for his embarrassing error:

The defense lawyers who have witnesses in front of that grand jury, sometimes they get it wrong, and that seemed to be the case in this particular case.

Shuster then went on to blame the lack of a Rove indictment on the fact that special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald wanted a "slam dunk" case and was worried about his career:

The issue, they say, though, is not that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald concluded that the case was unwinnable, rather that it was not a slam dunk. And all these lawyers suggested that in a case where you're looking at a public official and whether a prosecutor is going to indict a public official, that prosecutor usually has an extra burden trying to make sure that if they're going to bring this case to trial, they can certainly meet the obligation of beyond a reasonable doubt, and that they are 99 percent certain, not 50-50 because they're dealing with a public official, and you're dealing with the career-making or possibly-losing case if, in fact, you do lose it.

We now have an intriguing suggestion by John Gibson that David Shuster's problems in predicting Karl Rove's indictment might have been because he relied on a totally unreliable source---the notorious Jason Leopold, a senior editor for the factually challenged TruthOut. In the May 13, 2006 edition of TruthOut, Leopold boldly stated that Karl Rove had already been indicted the previous day. During his radio show interview yesterday with Leopold, Gibson attacked the TruthOut senior editor for his complete lack of credibility regarding Karl Rove. At the tail end of the interview came this fascinating question repeated twice by Gibson:

Are you still feeding David Shuster information? Are you still feeding David Shuster information?

When Leopold nervously declined to answer, Gibson stated, "I'll take that as a 'yes'."

For those unfamiliar with Jason Leopold, he was described by Howard Kurtz in a March 9, 2005 Washington Post article as a self-confessed liar, cheater, and back-stabber as well as a former cocaine addict who was convicted of grand larceny. According to the same article, Leopold has been battling mental illness his whole life. Among his other "accomplishments," Leopold has been accused of falsifying reports and plagiarism:

The Salon debacle in 2002 involved a purported e-mail from then-Army secretary Thomas White, a former Enron executive, which White said he had no recollection of writing. Leopold reported that White, while at Enron, had written: "Close a bigger deal. Hide the loss before the 1Q." The online magazine initially said Leopold had plagiarized part of the story, then retracted it altogether.

Perhaps Leopold has a future career as a fabulist for The New Republic. However, the question put forth by John Gibson remains. Did MSNBC's David Shuster use Jason Leopold as a source for reporting on Karl Rove's imminent "indictment" in May 2006?


Please support NewsBusters today! [a 501(c)(3) non-profit production of the Media Research Center]


Or, book travel through MRC’s Travel Discounts Program! MRC receives a rebate for each booking when you use our special codes.

MSNBC Journalistic Issues John Gibson