Karl Rove Won't Face Criminal Charges, So Why Is Bush Still Getting Pounded in the Press?

The following is a transcription of the June 17, 2006 edition of "FOX News Watch" that has been edited for clarity.

ERIC BURNS, HOST: Media speculation about the president's top adviser, Karl Rove, ended this week. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will not be bringing charges against him in the CIA leak case.

Media attacks against Rove, however, have not ended. Dan Froomkin of the washingtonpost.com writes as follows: "Now, without charges against Rove in the offing, the media should demand answers to a slew of questions. The overriding issue: Just because Rove wasn't charged with a crime doesn't mean his conduct meets the standards the public expects from its White House."

And Associated Press writer Peter Yost went even further saying, "The decision not to charge Karl Rove shows there are often no consequences for misleading the public."

The press, Juan, seems to find Karl Rove guiltier than did the special prosecutor.

JUAN WILLIAMS, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO SR. NAT'L CORRESPONDENT, GUEST PANELIST: Different charges. Different charges, Eric, totally. What you have here is a situation, if you will recall, where the president said, "If anybody in my administration is found to be involved with leaking anything" — and he said — and he gave every indication that he had talked to Karl Rove; Karl Rove had said he was not involved. And now we know that Rove had talked at least to Cooper, and if not — and apparently..

BURNS: Matt Cooper of...


BURNS: TIME magazine.

WILLAMS: And apparently he had also been the second source on Robert Novak's column.

So the whole notion that you had at the time the press secretary going out and saying, Karl Rove's not involved, and I don't know why you press people are being so demonic and stupid about this. It now looks as if there's some hypocrisy, or duplicity at least, involved.

JIM PINKERTON, NEWSDAY: OK. That's one take on this.

Another take would be, what penalty will the reporters who predicted, and obviously hoped, that Rove would be indicted don't get — will they get a pass?

David Shuster at MSNBC flat out predicted he'll get indicted. Stephen Sprool on The National Review's blog counted 26 times where Keith Olbermann said Rove faces indictment.

BURNS: But ultimately...

PINKERTON: Is there any penalty for that, for getting that wrong?

BURNS: I don't — Neal, it shouldn't matter whether they're right or wrong; I don't think people in the media should be making the predictions either way.

NEAL GABLER, MEDIA WRITER: I absolutely agree. Look it, I mean, if we were basing whether people ought to be fired on the basis of their predictions, there would be no one in the press corps. They're always wrong.

But Juan is absolutely right. I mean, the issue here is, he was not exonerated. He lied to the American people. He lied, apparently, to President Bush. He lied about talking to Novak. He lied about talking to Cooper. This is a guy who's got a mind like a steel trap, and yet he can't remember a conversation with Cooper.

CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: You know, it's amazing to me all the liberals who want to say, OK, he was let off, but he's guilty anyway.

GABLER: No, no. I didn't say he was a criminal.

THOMAS: No, no, no — but — now, wait a minute. Well, all right. But malicious.


THOMAS: All right. But there are some of the people who said, well, OK, Clinton was impeached, but he wasn't found guilty. OK, he lied under oath, but it was only about sex. This sounds like a double standard here.

Now Shuster went beyond — David Shuster of MSNBC. It's hard for me to say that! Not only predicting he'd be found guilty, but suggested afterwards that he was guilty.

I want to give credit to Jack Tapper of ABC who actually went on that network and chided Shuster for making these predictions. And Neal is absolutely right; journalists have business, including Jack Cafferty — whatever he is — on CNN, who said, he wishes that he had been found, and he was probably guilty.

GABLER: They're not fortune tellers, they're reporters!

THOMAS: And they shouldn't be doing that.

PINKERTON: There's a problem with what Neal is saying. For if reporters get things wrong, if every politician, if every reporter who got something wrong were fired, if every politician who got something wrong were fired, there would be nobody in Washington at all. So to some extent, you got say, look, that's just the way the political game is played.

But, the press made a specific statement: Rove will be indicted. And he wasn't.

GABLER: Well, a couple of people made that statement.

WILLAMS: No, but you know, that's not the point to me. The point is, you look at the press. And right now, we still don't know the story.

GABLER: Exactly.

WILLAMS: You know, it's amazing to me — who was it that leaked this woman's name, which is clearly a violation?


WILLAMS: The story remains held by the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald. And it seems to me a mystery — and I don't know if we'll ever learn it, because the ongoing investigation into Scooter Libby apparently is not about that issue. It's about Libby allegedly lying to the grand jury.

PINKERTON: We'll have to wait for Valerie Plame's $2.5 million book.

GABLER: Or her civil suit against Rove.

BURNS: Cal, do you have a final word?

Neal! You have a...


GABLER: The press treatment of Rove varies as — depending on whether Bush's ratings are high or low. When his ratings are high, they genuflect before him. When his ratings are low, they say, oh God, he's lost his mojo.

WILLAMS: Yes, when they want their calls returned...

BURNS: We don't have time.


BURNS: We don't have time for Jim to come in there and back you up, Juan. It's the theme of today's program there.

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