What Patrick Fitzgerald didn’t say and the Media didn’t ask

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald announced the multi-count criminal indictment today of "Sleezebag Scooter" Libby, and in Fitzgerald’s statements implied that no other prosecutable crimes had been detected by his investigation of the Name-the-Plame-for-Shame Scandal. But there is much that Pat forgot to say, or failed to say, or decided not to say, and the media, which had ample opportunity to ask better questions, rolled over and acted like it had a continuing case of Investigative Alzheimer’s Disease.

For instance, no one asked whether other members of the Bush Administration would have been indicted had they not received agreements of prosecution immunity in exchange for their testimony against Mr. Libby and perhaps others. Apparently, witnesses to the case (or leakers) had identified some officials who may have been "turned" against others in exchange for immunity, yet the entire matter received no comment or question today. Even in Mr. Fitzgerald would have refused to answer in detail questions about issuance of immunity, the press should have asked — it is their job to do so.

The Press also failed to ask about the scope or potential scope of the Fitzgerald investigation beyond the limited original focus of the Plame Investigation. It has been reported that Fitzgerald sought and received authorization to investigate and prosecute any crimes he may have uncovered in the midst of his original, limited investigation of who named Plame. Today, Fitzgerald spoke only of the Plame Affair and did not speak of any aspects of investigations he may have initiated as a result of things learned. And the media did not press him for any information on the matter. For instance, it has been reported that Fitzgerald is also investigating the forgery of documents related to the yellowcake uranium "transaction" and possible criminal behavior in connection with those forgeries. Today the media said not a word about this sort of expansion of the scope of the original investigation.

The media seems to have settled into a mode of newsgathering with the use of sensationalism whenever possible, but without hard-nosed investigative journalism or healthy suspicion. A good newsperson should be able to consider not only the newsworthiness of what the government did say, but also what the significance must be of what the government did NOT say. There were enough issues and things that Patrick Fitzgerald did NOT say today to have perked up the nose of a good investigative reporter in real time. But maybe the media and the alternative media just didn’t notice, or didn’t cover the event with their best people.

One has to wonder, where was Democracy Now today when the questions were being asked? Where were Free News Radio and Flashpoints and where were Greg Palast and the other members of "progressive" or left wing media? These people will have plenty to say about what Patrick Fitzgerald did say today, but why did they not attend the press conference and ask the relevant questions in real time? Why did they not force Mr. Fitzgerald to acknowledge the incompleteness of his statements?

With inattentiveness of the corporate media and non-presence of the left-wing media, the American public continues to suffer from news neglect. We have 24 hours of news availability on hundreds of television stations in hundreds of markets, but we do not get our necessary ration of truth and facts to allow our democracy to stay healthy. When the government and the complicit media completely control the content of the news, the public only hears what it is supposed to hear, and this favors the status quo, not the real public interest.