Hogan's Alley

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Woodward Vs. Pincus, WAPO Throwdown?

The Post today reveals that its famous reporter Bob Woodward gave a sworn deposition the Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in which he recounted three conversations he had with "current or former Bush administration officials" regarding Valerie Plame, Joseph C. Wilson IV's wife and CIA analyst.

Woodward, in a separate statement, says that he only remembers speaking to one unnamed official about Plame and that the subject never came up with the other two, one of whom is named as Scooter Libby. Further, in the one conversation he did have, Woodward recalls:

Fitzgerald asked for my impression about the context in which Mrs. Wilson was mentioned. I testified that the reference seemed to me to be casual and offhand, and that it did not appear to me to be either classified or sensitive. I testified that according to my understanding an analyst in the CIA is not normally an undercover position.
An interesting aside to this revelation, fully reported in Editor and Publisher, is that Woodward recalls speaking to Walter Pincus, a Post staffer who was one of the early conduits for Joe Wilson's ire toward the Bushies. Pincus, as it turns out, does not remember that conversation. He thinks it may have been at a later date.

Well excuuuuse me, but how can a reporter who either was or was not aware of the Plame connection at the time forget a conversation with the Post's star reporter? Either he was already on the story and shit a brick when Woodward revealed his knowledge (fearing Woodward might beat him into print), or he used the tip as a starting point for his own explorations. Either way the Woodward conversation would likely take away from Pincus' shot at journalistic celebrity.

It all comes down to a matter of the timing. Pincus' memory becomes especially suspicious if he in fact spoke to Woodward before his own reporting on the matter. It will be interesting to watch this story develop.