I really don't know when any sense of journalistic shame is going to kick in with Andrea Mitchell. There seems to be no limit to what she will say or do when the cameras are rolling, and the fact that the right is as angry as the left about her continued journalistic malfeasance in the CIA leak case means it has gotten pretty friggin' bad. And it does not fall into the category of "well everyone is upset so she must be doing something right." Wrong. She's a big, fat festering boil on the posterior of NBC that somebody needs to lance.
Despite the fact that the Libby defense team spent copious amounts of time trying to drag Mitchell into court to testify about her October 2003 statement to Alan Murray of CNBC to the effect that "It was widely known among those of us who cover the intelligence community and who were actively engaged in trying to track down who among the foreign service community was the envoy to Niger," she still continues to report on the case. And even though her reporting continues to be factually challenged, false and downright misleading, she just Will Not Shut Up.
For a withering analysis of Mrs. Alan Greenspin's history of ethical lapses in this case, please read David Fiderer's November 2005 piece in the Huffington Post. It's devastating. But nothing could compare to the explanations she herself has given on Imus regarding the CNBC quote, which included this:
"I must have been drunk."
Charming. Any other reporter making such a litany of excuses, who wasn't so intimately tied into the beltway elite, would've been shitcanned on the spot.
An overlooked piece of the Mitchell puzzle was revealed in Judge Reggie Walton's memorandum issued on March 2 of this year (PDF). The Libby defense team sought to introduce Mitchell's CNBC statement in a convoluted Rube Goldberg maneuver to impeach the testimony of Tim Russert, but Walton reveals that even Mitchell and NBC admit that it was just so much bullshit:
[T]here was no corroborative evidence to support the reliability of Mitchell's October 2003 statement. Indeed, Mitchell and NBC repeatedly repudiated the exchange as false and misleading. (emphasis mine).
"False and misleading?" The reporter NBC has had on the case for years was not only in it up to her eyeballs, she has publicly admitted to making "false and misleading" statements. Was she lying when she told Alan Murray she had known for a while about Wilson's identity, just to puff herself up and make her seem more important than she really was? Or was she lying afterwards, trying to hide her own involvement in the case, so as to help out poor little warmongering, torture lovin' Scooter? Maybe we should just believe her when she says she was reporting while drunk. Makes as much sense as anything else.
Now let's hear Mitchell take full responsibility for the "false and misleading" CNBC statement, again on Imus:
This is one of those things. We've got a whole new world of journalism out there where there are people writing blogs who are going to grab this one thing and not everything else I have written and said about this and go to town with it. It supports their political point of view, and…bingo.
Ted Wells, blogger? Ho-kay. Ah the smell of personal responsibility in the morning.
Mitchell's agenda when reporting about this case has always been clear. The day the indictment against Libby was handed down, Mitchell went on MSNBC and said that she had seen the report done by the CIA which concluded there was no damage done by the leak of Plame's identity. This despite the fact that the Washington Post reported shortly thereafter that the CIA claims no such report had been completed. One would have to assume that Mitchell's fact-free reporting was quite helpful to an administration spinning as fast as they could on that particular day.
And yesterday, the real icing on the cake came when Mitchell rolled onto MSNBC once again and reported that polling indicated that the American public wanted diminutive war pimping neocon Scooter Libby pardoned. Except nothing could be further from the truth (As Atrios noted, a CNN poll puts that figure at 18%). However, this particular statement was no doubt also helpful to an administration awash with embarrassment and rocked by scandal, which probably does not want a soulless architect of war like Scooter Libby out there running his mouth right now.
I know Andrea Mitchell is connected in ways to the DC elite and the White House that make her difficult to dismiss. But thanks to Tim Russert's admission that he spilled his guts to the FBI when first contacted and then later tried to claim First Amendment privilege to protect his sources from exposure to the people he'd already exposed them to, as well as Mitchell's virtual dirty laundry bag of journalistic sins in this case, the network's credibility is on the line (MSNBC should be thanking their lucky stars for whatever particular alignment of the heavens brought them David Shuster). It is absolutely shocking that they allow Mitchell on television to say whatever helpfully misleading thing the administration wants her to blather on that particular day, without benefit of fact checking, reporting or anything else that might qualify as actual journalism. C'mon, Dan Abrams. You're better than that. I mean, WTF?
NBC, I'm begging you. You need to clean the place up. Time to send Mitchell home with a bottle of bourbon to nurse her highballs in private, away from the glare of the cameras.
Please be embarrassed for her, even if she doesn't have the basic common sense to be embarrassed for herself.