Has Karl Rove been indicted? That was the big rumor sweeping the Web over the weekend, courtesy of a report on the liberal Web site Truthout.org. On Saturday, Jason Leopold reported on the site that President Bush's political architect had been informed of a pending indictment:
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove.The day before, Leopold reported that Rove had informed President Bush and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten he would be indicted and would leave his White House post immediately once it was announced. The basis for these reports? "Sources," of course.
During the course of that meeting, Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove with an indictment charging the embattled White House official with perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case, and instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 business hours to get his affairs in order, high level sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said Saturday morning.
Had either of these stories appeared on the front page of The New York Times, or in Newsweek magazine, we would be in the throes of a media feeding frenzy. The Sunday Show slates would have been hurriedly rearranged to capitalize on this new "bombshell" and America would have woken up this morning to watch Rove make the quick walk-and-duck from his front door to his waiting car. But so far, Leopold's story stands alone.
It's not to say the report wasn't noticed. At the conservative National Review, Byron York noted that the story was being checked out by other reporters who had not been able to substantiate it. York also reported that Rove's spokesperson was denying the story. At CBS News, e-mails were sent out by correspondents reporting absolute denials of the story by named principles. And questions about Leopold's past circulated on the Web.
Adding to the intrigue are comments suggesting he will reveal the names of his sources if the story does not turn out to be accurate. It's something that has the blogosphere buzzing, but has yet to be verified independently. Presumably, we'll know soon whether there is anything to this story. The fact nobody in the MSM has been able to verify it suggests the story is not accurate in some respects. [Editor's Note: It has come to my attention that the previous sentence could be read to mean I am in some way vouching for the accuracy of any part of this story. That is not the case. It was a flip attempt to alert readers to the fact that no MSM outlet had touched this story in any way, something I believe speaks for itself as to the accuracy, or more to the point, inaccuracy, of the entire story.]
This is a curious story in so many ways. If it is true, why would Rove's spokesperson issue such a strong denial? It would appear pretty silly to deny one day what is going to happen the next. Would Leopold really reveal the names of his sources should the story turn out incorrect? What is really the difference between the use of anonymous sources in this instance and the many un-named sources we see in the MSM? And just consider the possibility that Leopold's story could turn out to be accurate. What would that mean to the world of journalism?