Truthout reporter stands by the "Rove indicted" story

In a radio interview, Jason Leopold says he won't say otherwise until he hears it from Patrick Fitzgerald.

By Tim Grieve

Published June 13, 2006 8:30PM (EDT)

When people first started raising questions about Truthout's report that Karl Rove had been indicted, reporter Jason Leopold took to the radio to suggest that he'd out his sources on the story if it turned out that they were wrong. "These are people that I trust," Leopold said then. "They are also sources who know full well that if they led me astray, they would no longer be anonymous sources."

So will Leopold out his sources now? Ed Schultz asked Leopold that question on his radio show this afternoon. Leopold said no. "This is a team effort, and I am not the only one working this," he said. "This is an effort by Truthout." Schultz cut Leopold off, saying that he and Truthout "may have some tough integrity and credibility issues down the road." "Yeah," Leopold said, "and we're actually working on that." Schultz asked Leopold why he'd want to protect his sources at this point. Leopold's response: "That's an excellent question. I've got to be honest, Ed. I don't have an answer at this moment."

Schultz bought into Leopold's story when it first broke, but he went after the reporter like a spurned lover this afternoon. He said Leopold was facing his "Dan Rather moment," and he said that it's now clear that Leopold was "wrong" to report that Rove was indicted in May. Leopold acknowledged that he's "having to juggle many different things now," but he said repeatedly that he stands by the story he wrote: "Until I hear from Patrick Fitzgerald, until Patrick Fitzgerald actually makes a statement and says, 'This is, in fact, exactly what's going on,' I'm not going to budge from my position in terms of what was reported."

Leopold also said Robert Luskin should release the letter he says he received from Fitzgerald. It's not an unreasonable request, but Rove's spokesman has already told us that Luskin will not comply with it. Meanwhile, Leopold said he's working tirelessly to get to the bottom of whatever it is that happened. "I act on behalf of an organization," Leopold said. "My editor has spoken to all of the sources, and we're continuing to do that. And certainly, if some bad information was given, we'll decide what the appropriate thing to do is. But if something did happen four weeks ago, and suddenly during the course of the past four weeks, it changed in Karl Rove's favor, I don't know how that would -- you know, how does that make me and my story particularly wrong?"

Perhaps we can explain. The Truthout headline on Leopold's May 13, 2006, story said: "Karl Rove Indicted on Charges of Perjury, Obstruction of Justice." If Rove really was indicted sometime before May 13, 2006, even if something happened in the ensuing weeks to turn that indictment into a nonindictment, then the central premise of Leopold's story may not have been wrong. But if Karl Rove was never indicted in the first place, even if Fitzgerald planned to indict Rove before something changed his mind, then Leopold's report was wrong --"particularly wrong" -- no matter what may have happened in the meantime.

Tim Grieve

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

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