Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):
—9:00 am: Senate Judiciary Committee votes on the appeals court nomination of William H. Pryor Jr. —10:00 am: Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with FBI Director Robert Mueller —10:00 am: Senator Lieberman's mother, Marcia Lieberman, visits seniors in Manchester, N.H. —10:05 am: White House Rose Garden event with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and U.S. Civilian Administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer —11:00 am: CIA Director George Tenet testifies before the House Intelligence Committee —11:00 am: President Bush meets with the former president of the Czech Republic —11:30 am: Senator Lieberman tours the Maricopa Skills Center in Phoenix, Arizona. —11:30 am: Marcia Lieberman visits a Meals on Wheels program in Manchester, N.H. —12:30 pm: Paul Bremer speaks at the National Press Club on post-war Iraq —2:15 pm: The President meets with Argentine President Nestor Kirchner —3:00 pm President Bush participates in ceremony for the 2003 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, White House —3:15 pm: Senator Lieberman speaks to the Navajo Nation Tribal Council in Window Rock, Ariz. —5:00 pm: Governor Dean attends a meet and greet in Canterbury, N.H. —5:45 pm: Senator Lieberman meets with Latino community leaders in Phoenix —7:00 pm: Governor Dean attends a community picnic in Lakeport, N.H. —8:00 pm: Deadline for signatures in California recall —8:00 pm: Senator Lieberman addresses the Hotel Employees International Union in Phoenix
With a presidential statement on Iraq taking place write before or right after we intend(ed) to publish today's Note, writing this episode is/was a chronological challenge.
And writing about Niger is always a challenge: the White House argues it distracts from the fact that the nation (and many now carping Democrats) supported going to war against Iraq with or without those 16 words, while the Democrats counter that there are real issues of credibility here (and a chance to keep scoring political points).
So, in the new spirit of The Lists, let us list some things we think are true (keeping in mind "is versus ought-to-be") about the Niger matter at this very specific, fluid point in the news cycle.
1. When a White House puts out bad news on an otherwise busy news day, the bad news isn't JUST crowded out in the products consumers see (Niger isn't even on the front page of the New York Times for instance … ) — it also gets crowded out in newsrooms. Executive producer/editor time yesterday was largely owned by the Hussein son story and Jessica Lynch, as was the time of news assistants, researchers, tape PAs, etc.
2. So reporters assigned to Niger just weren't going to be feeling the love, and, knowing they would not get top billing (and, short of time, thanks to the late hour of the briefing) didn't hump this cycle on the story the way they otherwise would have.
3. When George Bush has a complicated, controversial story which threatens his political health, he turns to Dan Bartlett, whose competence and credibility with the press are a huge asset to this White House.
4. Yesterday's Bartlett/Hadley briefing is a fascinating read. Reading Hadley's tortured explanation of whether the president is responsible for what goes on in the White House makes one nostalgic for the Lanny Davis days.