BBC's Reynolds disappoints
He begins by exclaiming that the indictment of Libby:
…raises serious questions about how the Bush administration sought to justify the war against Iraq and brings into scrutiny the possible role of Mr Cheney in the unlawful disclosure of a CIA agent.No, it doesn’t. This is just spin, with Reynolds himself attempting to raise those questions anew, and to place “scrutiny” on “the role” of Mr. Cheney despite the lack of any reason to do so.
With regard to the justification of the war, these indictments say absolutely nothing whatsoever. The indictments revolve around when Libby discovered that Plame worked at the CIA, who told him, and who he subsequently told. Again, they have absolutely nothing at all to do with the justification of the war. Indeed, the whole Plame issue itself touches only tangentially on it, in the sense that it was instigated by Joe Wilson’s original article which claimed, falsely as it turned out, that his trip to Niger did not bear out the claims of British intelligence. But these indictments provide virtually no new information, and raise no new questions at all, with regard to that intelligence. Reynolds is trying to create new controversy where none exists.
As for Mr. Cheney’s “role”, this has arisen strictly from the fact that Libby originally claimed to have heard about Plame’s employment from a journalist, when in fact he had been told by Cheney previously. But independent prosecutor Fitzgerald said explicitly in his news conference that “there was nothing wrong with government officials discussing Valerie Wilson or Mr. Wilson or his wife and imparting the information to Mr. Libby.” Again, Reynolds is attempting to create an issue where none exists, presumably in order to impart greater political significance to the indictments than already exists.
In his recap of the events that led up to the indictment, Reynolds does a reasonable job, except for his brief mention of Joe Wilson. As seems to be custom with BBC reports about this affair, Reynolds once again fails to inform his audience of the fact that Wilson has been wholly discredited with regard to his claims about his trip to Niger, and has also been shown to be lying about the involvement of his wife in his being given the assignment in the first place.
Given that Reynolds is trying to push the notion that the indictments raise “serious questions” about the justification of the war, it is no wonder that he tries to keep Wilson’s credibility problems from his audience. In one of the more revealing comments by Reynolds, he writes of the charge that Saddam sought uranium in Niger:
The British government certainly believed the Niger report - and strangely enough after all that has happened, still does.Strangely enough? Why would it be strange if the report is, in fact, accurate? Reynolds is obviously insinuating that the report has been shown to be false, and that Wilson’s charges are accurate. But in fact, “after all that has happened”, including the Senate investigation that concluded Wilson was not telling the truth about his Niger trip, what reason does Reynolds have to think it is not accurate? Since Wilson’s lack of candor does not facilitate the use of him as a proxy for promoting the notion that Bush/Blair lied about the justifications for the war, it is little surprise that the BBC doesn’t want to remind its audience of the full story behind Wilson's claims.
Reynolds also employs those classic journalistic weasel words, used to express an opinion while maintaining the pretense of objectivity. The Project for the New American Century has been “seen as” the origin of Bush policy. Seen by who? Reynolds doesn’t say. The indictments have “got people asking” questions about the vice-president's role in the affair. What people? Reynolds doesn’t say.
Reynolds has, to my mind, shown himself in the past to be one of the more reasonable BBC reporters of political events. This latest effort, however, is highly disappointing.