Lloyd Grove is stubbornly wrongheaded in this attack on the White House press office, and Eric Alterman keeps the story rolling with the same perverse spin.
Obviously, when the White House told Matt Drudge that the reporter who got the troops to complain about Bush and Rumsfeld on camera was a gay Canadian, it was attempting to repair some of the damage it had previously done both to gay rights and to US-Canadian relationships, by giving credit where it was due for a fine piece of journalistic work.
And note how the liberal media now have the poor Bushies so cowed they’re apologizing even for their good deeds.
Friday, July 18, 2003; Page C03
Some folks in the White House were apparently hopping mad when ABC News correspondent Jeffrey Kofman did a story on Tuesday’s “World News Tonight” about the plummeting morale of U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq.
So angry, in fact, that the next day, a White House operative alerted cyber-gossip Matt Drudge to the fact that Kofman is not only openly gay, he’s Canadian.
Yesterday Drudge told us he was unaware of the ABC story until “someone from the White House communications shop tipped me to it” along with a profile of Kofman in the gay-oriented magazine the Advocate. On Wednesday, for 6 hours 38 minutes, the Drudge Report bannered Kofman’s widely quoted ABC story — in which enlisted people questioned the Army’s credibility and one irked soldier went on camera to call on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign — and linked to the Advocate piece with the understated headline “ABC NEWS REPORTER WHO FILED TROOP COMPLAINT STORY IS CANADIAN.”
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan “is having a rough first week,” Drudge said. “The White House press office is under new management and has become slightly more aggressive about contacting reporters. This story has certainly become talk radio fodder about the cultural wars-slash-liberal bias in the media.”
A network insider was less sanguine about the White House tactic: “Playing hardball is one thing. But appealing to homophobia and jingoism is simply ugly.”
Kofman said from Baghdad, where he is covering the 3rd Infantry Division: “This morning I had a meeting with one of the commanding officers and we talked about my report and the response back home. He said he’d read about it on the Drudge Report and had just one question. ‘Is it true that you’re Canadian?’ I just smiled and said, ‘My life is an open book.’ “
ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider told us: “Sadly, when people feel wounded by a truthful report, they attempt to attack the messenger.” A White House spokesman, meanwhile, disavowed the incident: “This is the first we’ve heard of it, and it would be totally inappropriate if true.”
Seriously, though: How desperate do these guys have to be? It’s not as if the reporter’s cred was at issue. Obviously, the soldiers said what they said, or their superiors wouldn’t be in hot water for not stopping them from saying it. Apparently, Kofman is completely open about his sexual orientation, so no actual harm was done. But the message is clear: if you do anything we don’t like, we’ll hurt you any way we can. I suppose we should all be grateful Kofman doesn’t own a horse.
Any reporter with any self-respect ought to give Bush a gratuitous kick right about now, just to show he isn’t afraid to.
I’m looking forward to Andrew Sullivan’s take on this one.