Meet The (Message Control) Press

The trial of Scooter Libby, for lying about outing an undercover CIA agent, has always promised to deliver long held secrets of intrigue and deceit from the White House. And with the participation of so many figures from the media (i.e. Judith Miller, Matt Cooper, Bob Novak, Tim Russert, etc.), there has also been the tantalizing prospect of embarrassing divulgences from that arena as well. Now the first of those promises is being kept.

When former Cheney communications director, Cathie Martin, testified yesterday, she outlined the options that the vice-president should consider in response to allegations that the White House was manipulating intelligence to promote its case against Iraq. Her testimony included the following:

Option 1: “MTP-VP”, she wrote, then listed the pros and cons of a vice presidential appearance on the Sunday show. Under “pro,” she wrote: “control message.”

“I suggested we put the vice president on ‘Meet the Press,’ which was a tactic we often used,” Martin testified. “It’s our best format.”

I can’t wait to hear Tim Russert’s response to this revelation that his program was a preferred dumping ground for administration propaganda. Martin detailed practices designed to bury bad news and otherwise distract the press. Then she complained that reporters didn’t accept her word and even stopped calling. That speaks well of certain members of the press, but also reveals how transparent her machinations must have been.

In addition to cracking the door a bit on the VP’s media connivances, it was also disclosed that Cathie Martin is the wife of FCC chairman, Kevin Martin. In an administration rife with cronyism, it seems a little too convenient that the VP’s director of communications is sleeping with the head of the federal agency responsible for regulating the media companies she has been lying to.