Lots of laughs but little news on the Rove watch

Reporters don't ask; Snow doesn't answer; Fitzgerald's spokesman can't say.


Tim Grieve
May 19, 2006 12:00AM (UTC)

If reporters in Washington are working hard on the Karl Rove indictment watch, they've sure got a funny way of showing it.

When Rove took questions from reporters at the American Enterprise Institute Monday, only one -- the Nation's David Corn -- bothered to ask about the Valerie Plame case. Rove tossed it off with a joke, and nobody followed up.

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Tony Snow got one Plamegate question at his first televised White House press briefing Tuesday. He refused to answer, and nobody pushed him on it. Helen Thomas asked Snow Wednesday if the White House is contemplating any change in Rove's "status" in the near future. "Not that I know of," Snow said, and the next reporter changed the subject. Somebody returned to Rove a few minutes later, and everyone in the room shared a good laugh.

Here's the transcript:

Reporter: Has Karl Rove spoken to you about the CIA leak case?

Snow: No, he hasn't.

Reporter: Has any member of the administration spoken to you about the CIA leak case?

Snow: Yes.

Reporter: Who?

Snow: I'm not going to tell you. (Laughter.)

Reporter: Has any White House lawyer spoken to you about the case?

Snow: Again, I just -- didn't I just tell you that I'm not going to tell you who I've spoken with?

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Reporter: I'm just asking.

Snow: I know. Good questions. (Laughter.)

At today's press gaggle, a reporter asked Snow about his ride on the president's helicopter, but nobody asked him about Karl Rove or Valerie Plame.

To be fair, the reporters around Snow surely understand that he wouldn't tell them whether Rove will be indicted even if he knew. Soliciting that sort of "no comment" may not be worth the effort that asking the question requires. But as we've said before, there are some important questions about Plamegate that Scott McClellan never answered. Why did the White House insist that Libby and Rove weren't involved in leaking? What happened to the promise that leakers would be fired? What, exactly, was Dick Cheney's role in all of this? It seems to us that Snow ought to be asked these things, even if only to get his refusal to comment on the record. This lull -- the calm before the storm? -- is as good a time as any.

As for the more immediate question? Maybe -- as some expect and many more hope -- there will be news to report on Friday. After all, Patrick Fitzgerald announced Scooter Libby's indictment on a Friday back in October. But at this point in the week then, the mainstream press was full of Fitzgerald sightings and speculation. There's nothing like that in the papers or on the networks now.

One source close to the case told us today that he hasn't heard anything new. And we just got off the phone with Fitzgerald's spokesman, who is, once again, not saying anything about anything. He can't say if any sort of announcement is coming, can't say whether the grand jury will be meeting Friday and can't speak about any travel plans Fitzgerald may have.

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Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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