A decade ago, the press burned through tons of newsprint, hours and hours of broadcast time, and huge amounts of Internet bandwidth obsessing over the possibility that Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's closest adviser, would be indicted in connection with the alleged revelation of the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame.
Yet there has been no meaningful establishment press interest thus far in what Bret Baier at Fox News reported Wednesday evening about the status of FBI investigations into the activities of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, namely that, as paraphrased at the Daily Caller, "the FBI’s renewed investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server will almost certainly end in an indictment, unless some sort of 'obstruction' arises."
Plame is the wife of Joe Wilson, described by the Associated Press at the time as "an opponent of the Iraq war who challenged Bush's assertion that Saddam Hussein was trying to secure nuclear materials." Recall that the administration's assertion was only about Iraq "trying" to get nuclear weapons, not succeeding at doing so, and that something as simple as making a single phone call would make that statement true. In any event, the administration's assertion, properly understood, was correct.
Left-wing talk radio and far-left blogs spent months fabricating stories and fueling virtually baseless speculation that Rove had already been or was about to be indicted. Those beliefs seeped into mainstream establishment press coverage.
Ultimately, Rove was not indicted in October 2005 or June 2006, almost three years after the phony attempt to create a scandal and claim Bush administration scalps began — all over a "disclosure" which concerned the identity of someone who at the time was operating under only "light non-official cover" and did not "possibly put lives at risk." The leaker of Plame's name was actually Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who gave it to reporter Robert Novak in 2003.
By contrast, Fox's Baier said Wednesday evening — first, on his own show and then, in the video segment below on Brit Hume's On the Record show (the full show video is at the Daily Caller — that he was relaying assertions from multiple sources within law enforcement. This certainly rises to well above the level support for the endless speculation that Rove would be indicted a decade ago:
BRIT HUME: This does not sound like something that's going to be completed any time soon, which suggests that if Hillary Clinton is elected, she will take office with not one but two serious investigations of her past conduct hanging over her.
BRET BAIER: Definitely. And I pressed again and again on this very issue. And these sources said, "Yes, the investigations will continue. There's a lot of evidence." And barring some obstruction in some way, they believe they'll continue to likely an indictment.
HUME: Wow. Wow, Bret Baier. Thanks, buddy. Thanks for coming across the hall at the end of your show and helping us out here.
Baier did not definitively say that Hillary Clinton would be the person indicted if indictments indeed occur. He only referred to a (singular) "indictment," which would lead one to question who the FBI's indictment candidate might be, and whether that person, again if not Mrs. Clinton, would be willing to take the fall for her without cutting a deal.
I could find no evidence of a story about what Baier reported at the New York Times or the Associated Press.
Earlier Thursday, Kyle Drennen at NewsBusters observed that the Big Three broadcast networks "have yet to touch the story."
In a related matter, Tim Graham at NewsBusters noted that the networks and cable news channels are almost completely ignoring a series of damning blockbuster revelations about the Clinton emails, the Clinton Foundation, and the Justice Department's questionable attempts to manage FBI investigations delivered by Devlin Barrett at the Wall Street Journal. Instead, as Graham writes, they are treating the matters "as something only the (Rupert) Murdoch Machine thinks is news."
Yet, as noted earlier, what was never more than a fever-swamp rumor in 2005 and 2006 about Karl Rove was covered obsessively, up to and including speculation over a supposedly impending indictment that never happened. If there were any visible regrets in the press after the indictment rumors were proven wrong, I don't recall seeing them.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.