11 December 2005


Vivica Novak, the latest journalist to offer a mea culpa over
the Plame Affair, tells her story in this week's Time:

Here's what happened. Toward the end of one of our
meetings, I remember Luskin looking at me and
saying something to the effect of "Karl doesn't have a
Cooper problem. He was not a source for Matt." I
responded instinctively, thinking he was trying to spin
me, and said something like, "Are you sure about that?
That's not what I hear around TIME." He looked
surprised and very serious. "There's nothing in the
phone logs," he said. In the course of the
investigation, the logs of all Rove's calls around the
July 2003 time period--when two stories, including
Matt's, were published mentioning that Plame was
Wilson's wife--had been combed, and Luskin was
telling me there were no references to Matt. (Cooper
called via the White House switchboard, which may
be why there is no record.)

I was taken aback that he seemed so surprised. I had
been pushing back against what I thought was his
attempt to lead me astray. I hadn't believed that I was
disclosing anything he didn't already know. Maybe this
was a feint. Maybe his client was lying to him. But at
any rate, I immediately felt uncomfortable. I hadn't
intended to tip Luskin off to anything. I was supposed
to be the information gatherer. It's true that reporters
and sources often trade information, but that's not
what this was about. If I could have a do-over, I
would have kept my mouth shut; since I didn't, I wish
I had told my bureau chief about the exchange. Luskin
walked me to my car and said something like, "Thank
you. This is important." Fitzgerald wanted to know
when this conversation occurred. At that point I had
found calendar entries showing that Luskin and I had
met in January and in May. Since I couldn't remember
exactly how the conversation had developed, I wasn't
sure. I guessed it was more likely May.

Is that your final answer, Viv?

... A new meeting with Fitzgerald was arranged for
Dec. 8. Leaks about my role began appearing in the
papers, some of them closer to the mark than others.
They all made me feel physically ill. Fitzgerald had
asked that I check a couple of dates in my calendar
for meetings with Luskin. One of them, March 1,
2004, checked out. I hadn't found that one in my first
search because I had erroneously entered it as
occurring at 5 a.m., not 5 p.m.

When Fitzgerald and I met last Thursday, along with
another lawyer from his team, my attorney, a lawyer
from Time Inc. and the court reporter, he was more
focused. The problem with the new March date was
that now I was even more confused--previously I had
to try to remember if the key conversation had
occurred in January or May, and I thought it was more
likely May. But March was close enough to May that I
really didn't know. "I don't remember" is an answer
that prosecutors are used to hearing, but I was
mortified about how little I could recall of what
occurred when.

Ladies and gentleman, how about a round of applause for your
Washington press corps! Aren't they the greatest?

ReddHedd at firedoglake writes:

In my mind a reporter actively working a story, even
when speaking with a friend who is also a source,
might want to pick up a handy device I like to call a
microcassette recorder and log in a few thoughts
after meetings, just to be certain that factual detail
is accurate for later reporting. Call me crazy.

If she's crazy, Greg Mitchell at Editor & Publisher is howl-at-
the-moon bonkers:

Where will it end, and when will reporters pay with
their jobs? First we learn that Bob Woodward failed to
tell his editor for years about his role in the
Plame/CIA leak case. Today, we find out that Time
reporter Viveca Novak not only kept her editors in the
dark about her own involvement, but even had a two-
hour chat with the special prosecutor about it well
before telling her superiors.

At the end of her first-person account at Time online
today, we are told in a brief editor's note that she is
by "mutual agreement" now on a "leave of absence."
Has she been taken to the woodshed and, if not, why

One reason might be that it's getting awfully crowded in there.

Judy, Bob, Vivica -- not to mention Andrea, Armstrong,
and good ol' Jeff. Hell, throw in Wolf and you've got enough
"journalists" to start another cable network.

And wouldn't we all love that?