a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Rove quashed Bulgegate?

Posted by Thomas Nephew on February 10th, 2005

Chris Shaw of adds another layer to the “Quashgate” (see below) angle of the “was Bush wired at the debate?” story:

Three sources have told Bush Wired (independently) that Karl Rove put in a call to the NY Times editors on Wednesday, Oct. 27 (the day before the story was scheduled to run), and that this was the REAL reason for the story being “killed”. While I have no concrete confirmation on this “scoop”, previously my sources named the writers of the killed NYT story correctly immediately after story was “killed” and several weeks before the writers’ names were made public.

It used to be “mau-mauing the flakcatchers” meant verbally bullying hapless government officials, if I recall correctly. We need a new term: “mugging the gray lady”, maybe?

No word yet on what Rove said exactly.* But it seems of a piece with other hardball “news management” tactics reported recently, like the RNC letter “urging” TV stations not to air a ad critical of Bush’s Social Security privatization plans. According to the South Bend Tribune, the letter said in part

The advertisement in question falsely and maliciously makes reference to ‘George Bush’s planned Social Security benefit cuts of up to 46 percent to pay for private accounts …’ […]
As an FCC licensee, you have a responsibility to exercise independent editorial judgment to oversee and protect the integrity of the American marketplace of ideas, and to avoid broadcasting deliberate misrepresentations of the facts. Such obligations must be taken seriously and I urge you to decline to broadcast this advertisement.

This letter places you on notice that the information contained in the above-cited advertisement is false and misleading. Your station should act responsibly and refrain from airing this advertisement.

(emphases added) (via Josh Marshall, who also demonstrates the Moveon ad is accurate).

Yglesias called it “Putinization” a couple of days ago. Sounds about right.

* Or, to remain careful, whether anything of the sort transpired. At the end of the day, Mr. Shaw is just one source claiming three more; on the other hand, his information fits with Lindorff’s story. Indeed, he seems to have received the same followup e-mail (“I can appreciate” etc.) from Times reporter Andrew Revkin that Lindorff published.

EDIT, 2/10: first 2 links fixed
UPDATE, 2/15: Daniel Okrent, the public editor for The New York Times, replies to my inquiry about the alleged pressure from Rove to quash the Nelson enhanced photo story:

Dear Mr. Nephew,
If this is true, it’s because “Bushwired” has much better sources than I do. I have never heard this, nor do I believe it.
Yours sincerely,
Daniel Okrent

Well, it wouldn’t be true because “Bushwired” has better sources; obviously there’s an implied “and I didn’t know about it” in there. Along with an implied “and I don’t intend to ask about it,” I think. (EDIT: Contrary to the first impression conveyed within this update, Okrent said in his 2/11 letter to FAIR, “It is not unreasonable to argue that The Times should have run the [Nelson enhanced photo] article.“)
UPDATE, 2/15: Chris Shaw of “bushwired” responds, citing the accuracy of his sources in the past.
UPDATE, 3/3: A New Yorker article describes (in passing) a Keller-Rove contact five days before the phone call is said to have happened.

One Response to “Rove quashed Bulgegate?”

  1. » Blog Archive » Roving Times editors observed Says:

    […] reason I mention this goes back to an earlier post, wondering if Rove pressured the Times to drop the “bulge” story (about Bush allegedly wearing some kind of device during the debates) with an October 27 phone […]

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