Isikoff: Rove ‘never set the record straight’ about CIA leak case
Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame call Rove book ‘a hoax’
Former Bush senior adviser Karl Rove has a new book out, Courage and Consequence, in which he attempts to justify his years in the White House. Longtime investigative journalist Michael Isikoff, however, is not impressed.
“It is a selective cherry-picking of history,” Isikoff told MSNBC’s David Shuster on Thursday. “Rove picks out various parts of the record that make him and the Bush White House look great and omits and distorts everything that contradicts him.”
Isikoff is particularly irate over the “highly skewed” way in which Rove “portrays himself as an improbable Jean Valjean—an innocent man who, like the persecuted hero of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, is relentlessly hounded by an obsessed lawman determined to put him behind bars.”
According to Isikoff, Rove’s self-portrayal as an innocent victim hounded by Patrick Fitzgerald overlooks the fact that it was he himself who let the “persecution” play out by not acknowledging at the time that he was the person who confirmed Valerie Plame’s identity as a CIA officer to columnist Robert Novak. Instead, he allowed press secretary Scott McClellan to lie on his behalf when the scandal broke and continued to let that lie stand over the next two years.
“There was Scott McClellan,” Isikoff emphasized, “saying any suggestion that Karl Rove was involved was totally ridiculous. … But the one thing that Rove acknowledges in the book is that he knew from the get-go that he had talked to Robert Novak for his original column. He was worried enough about it that he says in the book he talked to President Bush and told him about it, he talked to Andy Card, the chief of staff, he talked to Alberto Gonzales.”
Isikoff added that two days after his initial column, Novak wrote a follow-up referring to his second source, and “Rove knew instantly that Novak was talking about him In fact, he writes in the book, ‘I was sick to my stomach.'”
“He never sets the record straight,” Iskoff concluded. “In fact, nobody at the Bush White House ever sets the record straight. They publicly said, ‘Karl Rove was not involved.’ … Rove portrays himself as an innocent victim being hounded by an obsessive special prosecutor … but never acknowledges that his own actions contributed to that.”
Former Ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame have weighed in on the Rove book as well, describing it as “a hoax.”
“The chapters that relate to the CIA leak scandal are yet another attempt to deflect attention from his central role in the betrayal of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity as a covert CIA officer,” they write. “His distortions and fabrications are consistent with his approach throughout this sordid and criminal affair. Wasting his opportunity to tell the truth, he offers absolutely nothing new, and his selective use of facts and quotes are a transparent effort to continue his long campaign to confuse people, unfortunately consistent with his past behavior. … Karl Rove betrayed his nation; now he has betrayed history.”
This video is from MSNBC’s News Live, broadcast March 11, 2010.