28 January 2007

Let the record show...

Like most Americans, I do my best to avoid jury duty.
But I would have paid good money to sit on this case.

No one served up spicier morsels than
Cathie Martin, Vice President Dick
Cheney's former top press assistant .
Martin described the craft of media
manipulation -- under oath and in
blunter terms than politicians like to
hear in public.

Most of the techniques were candidly
described: the uses of leaks and
exclusives, when to hide in anonymity,
which news medium was seen as more
susceptible to control, and what timing
was most propitious.

Even the rating of certain journalists as
friends to favor and critics to shun -- a
faint echo of the enemies list drawn up
in Richard Nixon's White House more
than 30 years ago.

And guess who made the top of Dick Cheney’s roster of
softball journalists?

Flashed on the courtroom computer
screens were her notes from 2004
about how Cheney could respond to
allegations that the Bush administration
had played fast and loose with evidence
of Iraq's nuclear ambitions. Option 1:
"MTP-VP," she wrote, then listed the
pros and cons of a vice presidential
appearance on the Sunday show. Under
"pro," she wrote: "control message."

"I suggested we put the vice president
on 'Meet the Press,' which was a tactic
we often used," Martin testified. "It's
our best format."

Heck of a job, Timmy. Fox News must be pissed.

And we’re only just getting started. Things should really
heat up this week when Ari “No-time” Fleischer takes
the stand.

4:46 p.m.: The jury—and Martin—has
been dismissed for the day. It's time
for a highly entertaining lawyer slap
fight. It turns out Ari Fleischer will be
the next witness, once court resumes
Monday. (Damn, just missed him!) The
defense team wants to note—for the
jury's benefit—that Fleischer
demanded immunity before he would
agree to testify, because this might
cast Fleischer's testimony in a
different light.

And here Fitzgerald makes a nice little
chess move: Fine, he says, we can
acknowledge that Fleischer sought
immunity. As long as we explain why.
Turns out Fleischer saw a story in the
Washington Post suggesting that
anyone who revealed Valerie Plame's
identity might be subject to the death
penalty. And he freaked.

It’s gonna make a helluva movie when it’s all over.

Until then, you can get a great summary of all the
action, here.