Journalists under Fire

Slate updates us on the Bush Bombshell. Which one? One especially worth quoting at length. In November the British tabloid, the Daily Mirror, printed a front-page article accusing Mr. Bush of discussing, with the dubious PM Blair and former Sec. of State Colin Powell, bombing the politically annoying Al Jazeera.

The update on evidence that this unbelievable tale is true:

What reason do we have to believe that this appalling proposal was actually made? First, the British government has prosecuted the two men accused of handling the memo for leaking "making a damaging disclosure of a document relating to international relations." Blair's attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, has further threatened an injunction on the Daily Mirror, which published the original story in November under the bylines of Kevin Maguire and Andy Lines, if it tries to disclose any more details of the document. But this attempt at damage control has been thwarted by one sitting and one former Labor MP, both of whom have stated for the record that they know the contents of the memorandum. ...

A second reason for believing in the authenticity of the memo is that an unnamed spokesman for Blair was quoted in the original story as saying that Bush's remark was "humorous, not serious." This is as much as to concede that some such conversation did in fact take place. It is of course not always possible to tell when the president is joking, but another who saw the transcript claimed that he was "deadly serious, as was Blair." (This by the way is a rebuke to those who routinely taunt the prime minister as "Bush's poodle.")

By the way, Reporters without Borders keeps a tally of journalists slain in duty (above).