Newsweek's Evan Thomas: Plamegate's A 'Big Zero'....So How's Newsweek Look Now?

On the chat show "Inside Washington" on PBS station WETA last night, the spin was in: Plamegate was a massive zero. No one was more enthusiastic than Newsweek's Evan Thomas. I'm sure the reporting of his colleague Michael Isikoff has him completely persuaded. But here's what didn't come up: how much ink did Newsweek spill hyping this "zero" story up? (Hint: here's just one example.)

When the show's substitute host Kathleen Matthews (wife of Chris Matthews) asked what the bottom line was on Plamegate, Thomas declared: "Nothing! Nothing! This is a big zero of a story that most of the American public has ignored, Washington has been feverishly consumed by, and it means something for Scooter Libby, who may go to jail, so it has some personal consequences, but in the great sum of American body politic, it means nothing."

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer added the press angle: "It tells us a lot about the press, which as long as Rove's neck was in the noose, and Libby and Cheney and the President, was extremely interested in this story, hundreds of stories on the front page, hours of it here on this show, and as soon as it doesn't appear to be that way, no interest whatsoever."

Left-leaning Mark Shields, who worked for years with Robert Novak on CNN's "Capital Gang," declared on the show that Novak is a man of integrity and that he believes that Novak is telling the truth in his column that Richard Armitage deceived people by never admitting he was the leaker, and then claiming that he couldn't talk because of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, even though Fitzgerald was appointed months after he must have realized he was Novak's source.

The roundtable on "Washington Week" on PBS spent their entire half hour analyzing Bush and Cheney and the Republicans. (Does this country have an opposition party?) They never got around to this week's column from Novak. At show's end, host Gwen Ifill read one viewer letter scolding the Plamegate peddlers, and two from unshaken Plamegate peddlers.

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