Thursday, December 04, 2003

The Plame game. Media Log reader K.W. is very excited that Valerie Plame, the former undercover CIA operative outed by the White House last summer, has allowed herself to be photographed by Vanity Fair. (For my earlier take on the scandal, click here.)

The pertinent fact is that her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson of Nigerien-yellowcake fame, had claimed she would rather "chop off her right arm" than have her picture taken.

Writes K.W.: "Will you not concede that this was a bogus 'scandal' hatched by Mr. Wilson and spurred on by Democrats and a left leaning press (you included) who are just desperate to bring Bush down. Just wondering if you'll say 'my bad' on this one?"

Well, uh, no. And no.

K.W. directed me to this piece by Slate's Timothy Noah, who labels Wilson's previous insistence that his wife would remain invisible the "Whopper of the Week." Noah also predicts that this "will surely give the Bush Justice Department whatever slim justification it seeks in dropping its Plamegate investigation."

Glenn "InstaPundit" Reynolds is very excited, too:

No word on whether she's missing an arm.... Wilson says the pictures won't identify her. Sorry -- if you're really an undercover spy, and really worried about national security, you don't do this sort of thing. Unless, perhaps, you're a self-promoter first, and a spy second. Or your husband is.

Let's concede that this wasn't smart. Wilson was already hurting the cause with his aggressive media whoredom. By letting herself be photographed -- albeit unrecognizably -- Plame has harmed her image of being more serious, and thus more credible, than her husband.

But what has changed? Plame's career as an undercover agent was over last July, when syndicated columnist Robert Novak passed along that sleazy little tidbit from his pals at the White House. If Novak's act endangered the projects Plame was working on and the people she associated with, the fact that we now have some vague idea of what she looks like doesn't affect that.

As Noah suggests, seeming to enjoy this too much may destroy any hopes of getting to the bottom of this. But that doesn't mean there isn't a bottom to be gotten to.

New in this week's Phoenix. New England Cable News will air a nuanced documentary on the life and times of the notorious Father Paul Shanley, who faces numerous criminal and civil complaints alleging that he sexually abused children. (Click here for more information and video clips.)

Also, the Boston Globe is losing two key staffers.

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