Saturday, December 17, 2005

Nothin' Like a Little Loven

I would be hard-pressed to name the most-biased journalist in Washington, but Associated Press correspondent Jennifer Loven would defintely be a contender. Powerline documented Ms. Loven's obvious partisanship during the 2004 election, when she accused President Bush of "twisting" the words of rival John Kerry, and her attempt to sustain the "16 words" scandal involving the President's comments of WMD in Iraq --after his accuser (Joe Wilson) was exposed as a liar.

More than a year after Bush's re-election, Ms. Loven is still at it. Consider her latest piece, on President Bush's radio address regarding the recently-revealed domestic surveillance program by the National Security Agency. Ms. Loven--who is married for a former Clinton advisor--leads with the "revelation" that Mr. Bush has authorized use of the program more than 30 times since September 11th. Excuse me, Ms. Loven, but that's hardly a headline. Since the original NYT article, we've known that the program was okayed by the President, and it's logical to assume that continuation of those efforts require periodic approval from the Commander-in-Chief. Still, the AP writer finds something about compelling about that number, suggesting (perhaps) that Mr. Bush trashed our constitution more than two dozen times. Keep reading the article, and you'll learn that intelligence officers involved in the program have been carefully trained to avoid infringing on our civil liberties. But, in Ms. Loven's estimation, that's far less important than the magical figure of "30."

Loven also notes that some members of Congress are upset over the program, although she doesn't list any Congressman, or offer specific quotes (a little lazy, if you ask me, since there are plenty of Democrats going ballistic over this issue). She also makes a brief stab at balance, providing a short summary of oversight efforts, but buries that information near the end of the story.

Not surprisingly, Loven also downplays the story's actual lead, waiting until the sixth paragraph before mentioning that members of Congress have been briefed on the program more than a dozen times, according to President Bush. The President didn't "name names," but it's logical to assume that the list included members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. In fact, the committee's Vice-Chairman, Democrat Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, has admitted that he has known about the program for some time. So, claims that Congress was "out of the loop" simply don't wash.

But mark my words: there will be plenty of comments on the Sunday talk shows about "how President Bush unleashed the NSA without informing Congress." And reporters like Jennifer Loven will dutifully transcribe their comments, while ignoring or burying inconvenient facts that fail to advance the Democratic talking points.

With the NSA program now "blown," the Bush Administration needs to launch a preemptive strike on Congressional critics. Release a list of all briefings provided to the House and Senate on this topic, and publish the names of Representatives and Senators in attendance. Then, start a concerted search for the individuals who leaked this information to the Times. If the leaker was ever discovered and prosecuted (don't hold your breath), Jennifer Loven's lead would probably be: "Bush Administration targets whistle-blowers."

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