The Two Reporters


Didn't Bite



The Two Reporters Who Didn't Bite




   Carrie Johnson, Washington Post                        Ben Evans, Associated Press



       Of course, not everyone in the national media covered the Jill Simpson/Siegelman/Rove gibberish. Of those who did, two distinguished

themselves with skeptical, rational coverage of the matter. They were: Carrie Johnson, who covered the Justice Department for the Washington Post

(and now does so for National Public Radio), and Ben Evans, a D.C.-based reporter for the Associated Press.

          First, Evans.

         Here is what I wrote in the book about his treatment of "60 Minutes" piece reporting Simpson's nonsense about about bird-dogging Siegelman for Rove:

         The Associated Press had little choice but to report Simpson’s claim, less because she’d appeared to implicate Karl Rove in remarkably brazen dirty trick than because her fantastic tale had presumably been vetted by one of the most respected names in American journalism.

       The story was written by Ben Evans, a Washington-based AP reporter who wrote most of the wire service ’s national stories on the Siegelman-Simpson matter. His work was notable for its fair, one might even say skeptical coverage of the Simpson-Rove-Siegelman imbroglio.

           Evans wrote high up in the piece that Simpson had never mentioned Rove’s astonishing request “in spite of testifying to congressional lawyers last year, submitting a sworn affidavit and speaking extensively with reporters.”

             Evans angered Harper's Scott Horton with his observation that Simpson had never before mentioned the Rove assignment prior to going on "60 Minutes."

Horton wrote that Simpson had told him and others the Rove tale. Horton then blasted Evans. He whined that Evans's story was "carefully set out to mirror the attack

line put out by the Alabama G.O.P., but using the wire service’s own voice.”

            For this to be true, and of course, it isn't, one must suppose, among other things, that the D.C.-based reporter is tight with the Alabama GOP and carries its water.

            It was typical Horton -- anyone who didn't toe the Simpson/Siegelman story-line was lacerated as being corrupt or in some way in the service of the GOP.

             In a second piece on "60 Minutes" astonishing report, Evans did something the New York Times seemed to avoid doing: He gave the other side ample space to fight back. Evans quoted Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, saying that CBS owed his client an apology for “circulating (Simpson’s) false and foolish story.” He also used, in the lead of a story, two quotes Rove gave to GQ, calling Simpson a “complete lunatic” and "60 Minutes"

a “shoddy operation” for airing her claims.

            Evans was, far as I’m aware, the only reporter to call “60 Minutes” for a response to Rove’s charge, or in any event, to get one. A CBS spokesperson said the network stood by its story.

            Of note: Though the New York Times (mis) reported the blackout of the "60 Minutes" piece at a Huntsville station, the paper never reported Simpson's

claim on CBS to have been ordered by Rove to tail Siegelman. I believe the paper, editorial and news side, chose not to because the Times realized her story was ludicrous; knew she was the sole evidentiary link tying Rove to the Siegelman prosecution; and didn't want to reveal their witness as a nincompoop to their readers.

          Now, on to Carrie Johnson and the Washington Post.

          Johnson, as noted above, covered the Justice Department for the Post. Interestingly, the Times did not involve its Justice Department reporters in its coverage of Simpson's claims. Obviously, Karl Rove did not prosecute the case. As with all conspiracies, this one would have required all manner of co-conspirators -- in this case, numerous respected, long-term prosecutors within the Justice Department. I believe that, had the Times, like the Post, used its reports who knew the Justice Department, it probably would not have reported so awfully on this matter.

        The following are two pages from, "The Governor of Goat Hill." Prior to the start, I'd summarized the many cases brought against top-tier Republicans by the Bush Justice Department, and here, at the start of the first page, Carrie Johnson does as well:








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