Update 8/5: Novak says Henry's impending Plame questions "had nothing to do with it, absolutely nothing." ... But Marshall interviews James Carville, who is at as big a loss as anyone else to explain how what he said prompted Novak's exit:
"At the time I thought it was like a 2.5 [on the scale on pundit show smackdowns]. But when I heard it again later, I thought, no, it's more like a 1.5."
Carville also told me that he didn't get any sense during the interview or in anything that happened off the air that "something was building" or any other sense that the guy was about to snap. It was as out of the blue to him as it was to everyone watching.
7:19 P.M. link
1) Russert's misdirection play? Maguire notes that, on close inspection, the denial NBC put out about Tim Russert's possibly Plame-related conversation with Cheney aide "Scooter" Libby was kind of ... weasely and Clintonian!
Mr. Russert, however, according to the NBC statement, said "he did not know Ms. Plame's name or that she was a C.I.A. operative and that he did not provide that information to Mr. Libby." Indeed, the statement said, Mr. Russert first learned the information from Mr. Novak's column. --NYT, 7/16/05 [Weasel highlights added]
Under this too-precise denial, Russert might still have told Libby "You know his wife works for the CIA." Not that there would have been anything wrong with that! (I'm assuming Russert didn't know she was an undercover agent, which most CIA employees are not.) Indeed, I don't see how you could not bring this up if you knew it and found yourself talking to Libby about Wilson's CIA-sponsored trip to Niger. It's the logical gossip to mention. But if that's what happened, why would Russert pretend to deny it? ... Sydney Schanberg has called on Russert to tell the public the truth (after all, there's a big controversy over whether Bush aides like Libby found out about Plame from reporters like Russert or from classified documents). What I hadn't realized is that Russert may have gone beyond simply remaining silent and actually misdirected the public, allowing NBC to suggest, with its Luskinesque denial, that he didn't tell Libby anything about Plame. ...
2) The secret friend: Did you know that, according to Joseph Wilson*, the CIA press operation knew that columnist Robert Novak might "out" Valerie Plame several days before Novak published his column--and possibly even before CIA spokesman Bill Harlow took Novak's call and ineffectually attempted to dissuade him from identifying her? How did the CIA know? Because--in a bizarre Watergate-quality incident inadequately chronicled in the MSM--Wilson's "secret friend" had confronted Novak on the street, found out what Novak knew, and Plame herself subsequently "alerted the CIA press office," according to Maguire. Given this heads up, why didn't the CIA take more "affirmative measures" to protect Plame's cover, if it was such a big deal? Measures like having George Tenet call Novak? Or was Tenet already talking to Novak ...? (Novak's original source has yet to be revealed, remember.)
*--admittedly, not a take-it-to-the-bank character. 11:07 A.M. link
'Did you mean: kornblut and rove and novak and plane?' No, I did not! But thanks for asking: I agree with Josh Marshall that there was something strange about the estimable Anne Kornblut's NYT article on how Robert Novak might have found out Valerie Wilson's maiden name (Plame). Just because Novak says, by way of defending himself, that Plame's name could be discovered in "her husband's entry in Who's Who in America'" doesn't mean Novak is trying to hint that the book was in fact his "source" for the name. He's arguing that using the name was no big deal. ... Of course, using her maiden name rather than her married name was at least a little deal, since it made it easier for people in foreign countries to put two and two together and realize they'd been dealing with a CIA agent, with possible dire consequences for those who cooperated with her ... P.S.: Why was Kornblut's story printed? Theories: 1) It fulfills the NYT'sgoal of writing about Rove/Plame every damn day in an attempt to keep the scandal in the public mind (perhaps on the highly questionable assumption that this somehow helps the NYT reporter who is in jail, as opposed to increasing the pressure on her to talk); 2) It makes an incremental contribution on the teeny-tiny question of whether to read much evidentiary value into Novak's use of Plame's maiden name. In other words, it's a blog item! But in a real blog item you don't have to pretend that the little point you're obsessively gnawing at--such as the point I'm trying to make in this very sentence!--is worth a New York Times story. And you can, you know, just come out and make your point. ... Update: See also Somerby. ...3:27 P.M. link
Arianna and Karl, Together Again! Arianna Huffington continues to push the theory that jailed New York Times reporter Judy Miller may have been one of the people who told Bush aides about Valerie Plame's CIA connection, rather than the other way around. This, of course, also happens to be a major potential defense of Bush aides Karl Rove and Lewis "Scooter" Libby from the charge that they illegally leaked secret information "outing" Plame. Indeed, through their lawyers or other anonymous spinners, they already seem to have adopted a we-were-only-passing-on-what-journalists-told-us defense. (If they learned about Plame's CIA job from a reporter--as opposed, to, say, a classified State department memorandum--that would make it harder to show they knew Plame was "covert" etc., as required to successfully prosecute them under the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act.) ... Do the Rove-bashers who populate the Huffingsphere realize that their leader is objectively aiding Rove by popularizing the leading theory that exculpates him? ... Hollywood libs always worried she'd go back to the other side! ...