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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

 
It's Irresponsible Not To

WOODRUFF: As we reported a little while ago in our blog segment, the Internet is abuzz with reaction to comments by New York Democratic Congressman Maurice Hinchey. The congressman over the weekend shared his views about the now disputed CBS News report about President Bush's Air National Guard service. Representative Maurice Hinchey is with me now, he joins us from Albany, New York.

Congressman Hinchey, what exactly did you say on Saturday at this town meeting in Ithaca?

REP. MAURICE HINCHEY (D), NEW YORK: Well, Judy, what I said came in response to a question from one of my constituents. There were about 100 people there. And they asked some questions about media manipulation. They were concerned about the issue of Armstrong Williams, for example, people being hired by this administration to pretend that they were giving objective news and information but were really putting forth the point of view of the administration rather than doing it objectively. And also the issue with Mr. Gannon, who was admitted to the White House press corps but who was not a legitimate press person, and was there just to throw softballs to the president.

And then the issue of the CBS Dan Rather event came up, and I said that there were false documents or documents which were falsified and presented as being accurate and there was a question as to where those documents came from. And in the context of the discussion I suggested that -- my theory was that I wouldn't be surprised if it came from the White House political operation, headed up by Karl Rove.

WOODRUFF: Well, I'm reading here a transcript of what you said, you said: "I have my own beliefs about how that happened. It originated with Karl Rove in my belief in the White House." What do you know that you base that on?

HINCHEY: Well, I think there's a great deal of circumstantial information and factual information. Mr. Rove, for example, has been involved in a host of political dirty tricks that are traceable back -- all the way back to the 1970s, '80s, '90s, right on up to the present. The way in which he treated Senator McCain, for example, in the context of the 2000 election.

So it doesn't take an awful lot of imagination if you're thinking about who it is that might have produced these false documents to try to mislead people in this very cynical way. It would take someone very brilliant, very cynical, very Machiavellian, and it doesn't take a lot of imagination to come up with the name of Karl Rove as a possibility of having done that.

WOODRUFF: But, at this point, it is just imagination, is that correct?

HINCHEY: It's a possibility, yes. It's a possibility based upon circumstantial evidence and the history of his behavior over the course of several decades. WOODRUFF: Well, you know, there was an independent panel that CBS asked to look into this -- you know, to look into how CBS got these documents, what went wrong with the story that appears on "60 MINUTES." They were not able to conclude where these documents came from. They said, finally, they weren't even able to determine whether these documents were authentic or whether they were forged. So my question is, how are you in a position to know more than they or others who have investigated this now?

HINCHEY: Well, Judy, no one has come to any conclusions and that's the unfortunate thing. We need to get to the bottom of this. We need to get to the bottom of the whole business of manipulating the media that has gone on in the context of this administration.

I think that that's critically important. The essence of this democracy is really at stake. If people sitting back in their living rooms can't rely upon the information they're getting over the news channel or over the radio, then very important aspects of this Democratic system become eroded.

So, we need to get to the bottom of it, that's the point here. I'm quite surprised, frankly, that this has gotten all the attention that it has, but in a way I'm grateful that it has because it's important for us to be concerned about these things. Manipulating the media in this kind of a cynical way is antithetical to what we stand for as a nation, we need to find out who did it.

WOODRUFF: But some would say, listening to what you said and hearing your acknowledgment that you don't have any proof, that it's irresponsible or -- let me ask you, do you think it's responsible for you to say this without evidence?

HINCHEY: I think it's very responsible of me to speculate about where this manipulation is coming from. Yes. I think it's important to speculate about it, I think it's important to discuss it and I think it's important to try to stimulate the investigative agencies to look into this.

Unfortunately, the Congress is not doing its job. There are -- this is something that ought to be investigated by the Congress of the United States. But this Congress is not doing its job. It's not standing up for the American people the way it should. And, as a consequence, there is a certain amount of frustration out there and that frustration was voiced by the people who attended the meeting that I held last Saturday.

WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave it there, Congressman Maurice Hinchey. And again, we did try to reach the White House to get their comment on all of this, we were not able to get a comment from them.


As Peggy Noonan so memorably wrote about the "little Elian" drama:

Was Mr. Clinton being blackmailed? The Starr report tells us of what the president said to Monica Lewinsky about their telephone sex: that there was reason to believe that they were monitored by a foreign intelligence service. Naturally the service would have taped the calls, to use in the blackmail of the president. Maybe it was Mr. Castro’s intelligence service, or that of a Castro friend.

Is it irresponsible to speculate? It is irresponsible not to.



We're playing by Clinton rules now. Sit back and enjoy it, fellas.



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