Knight Ridder Story Speculates That "Stain" on Bush's Presidency Will Grow

In case NewsBusters readers needed reminding that liberal media bias exists outside the major TV networks/New York Times-Washington Post/newsmagazines iron triangle, a Knight Ridder News Service story this weekend did just that. As you'll see, the first few paragraphs of this overheated "news analysis" by Ron Hutcheson and Steve Thomma speak for themselves.

I should first note that Knight Ridder publishes 32 daily papers, some of them, such as the Miami Herald and Philadelphia Inquirer, in major markets, so Hutcheson and Thomma's piece probably found a large readership. That became even more likely when at least one non-KR paper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, also picked up the article.

Here's the first part of the story:

Washington - The prosecution's case against White House adviser I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby pulls back the curtain on the Bush administration's efforts to silence its critics and challenges its rationale for war with Iraq.

The stain on President Bush's presidency starts with Libby, but it's not likely to end there, even with Libby's resignation Friday. The only bright spot for Bush in an otherwise dismal week was that presidential adviser Karl Rove wasn't indicted, at least for now. Rove, one of the president's closet confidants, remains under investigation.

The five-count indictment raises new questions about whether Vice President Dick Cheney had any role in revealing the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame. A Libby trial almost certainly would delve into internal White House deliberations that could provide more embarrassment for Bush, who had promised to bring a new ethical climate to Washington.

The indictment came near the end of one of the worst weeks in Bush's presidency. His approval ratings are at the lowest point since he took office, the American death toll in Iraq topped 2,000, Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers withdrew under pressure, and his usually loyal conservative supporters served notice that they'll no longer march in lockstep behind him.

"Everything seems to be blowing up at the same time," said Charles Walcott, a political science professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va.

Bush's name doesn't appear anywhere in the 22-page indictment, but his reputation is inextricably linked to the case. Even beyond the alleged criminal wrongdoing, the indictment offers an unflattering portrait of a White House with little tolerance for dissent and a no-holds-barred attitude toward its critics.


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