MSNBC has published the transcript from Wednesday’s night showdown segment on Hardball as host Chris Matthews questioned the Washington Post’s executive editor Len Downie on the recent revelations of Bob Woodward’s role in Plamegate.
Unfortunately, however, the transcript appears in the obscure and barely understandable beltway dialect known as Newspeak. Because I think no sacrfice is too great for my readers, I have taken the time to translate this important document for you into everyday English. Below find an edited portion of the transcript.
MATTHEWS: Let me thank you for your time today. Why do we now know that Bob Woodward got a leak from a senior administration official?
TRANSLATION: Why in the hell are we hearing about this two years too late?
DOWNIE: Chris, at the time that this conversation took place back in June of 2003, Bob was conducting a series of interviews with this and other sources for his book, “Plan of Attack.” …And this came up as a small business of banter within a much longer interview about other things. Later on, when the leaks investigation began… he became concerned about protecting that source and also concerned about whether or not he, himself, might be subpoenaed in that investigation. And that‘s why he didn‘t tell me at that time. I‘ve told him, however, that those were not sufficient reasons to not bring me into his confidence. But he should have told me about it and that‘s why he has apologized today.
TRANSLATION: Not wanting to be overshadowed by the New York Times, we granted Woodward the same run-amok unaccountability that Judy Miller enjoyed. Woodward pissed all over us. We enjoyed that too.
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s what I don‘t get. What has changed between then and June of 2003 and now? What freed him up to tell us that, the information itself?
TRANSLATION: What the fuck does that mean?
DOWNIE: What‘s happened since Bob first told me about this toward the end of October, shortly before the indictments came down … is that he was contacted by the special counsel, asked to give this deposition and then sought waivers from the three sources the special counsel wanted to ask questions about, because Bob couldn‘t give testimony unless these waivers were given for the purpose of testimony.
All three gave him waivers for that. He also asked for waivers to be able to write about it. And, one, Mr. Libby gave him a waiver to be able to write about it in today‘s paper. It took a while to reach Andrew Card, who is traveling with the president, the president‘s chief of staff. We now have his waiver to be able to write about. But the other source has not given us a waiver, so we still can‘t name him or report on the substance of the conversation.
TRANSLATION : I have no good answer, Chris. Other than Bob is still covering for Cheney or someone else in his office.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about being used here by his source.
The source says you … can say somebody leaked this back in mid June of 2003 before it was leaked by Scooter Libby, according to the indictment language. In other words, that‘s all useful to somebody if they want to help Scooter get off. But it‘s not telling the whole story, it‘s just telling the useful part of this story. I mean, the people over at Libby‘s legal operation are ecstatic now.
TRANSLATION: Do you mind getting bungholed by the White House?
DOWNIE: I‘m not drawing any conclusions about that. That‘s their business. What we are doing is maintaining our relationships with the confidential source, as we do with many other confidential sources. That‘s very important to us.
TRANSLATION: We don’t mind. Doesn’t feel that bad. Anyway, we’re used to it.
MATTHEWS: Does it bother you that the confidential source could be using rolling disclosure here for a political purpose; in other words, peeling off the confidentiality just enough to achieve a political goal, which is to take perhaps some of the political—or the legal heat off of Scooter Libby?
TRANSLATION: And you perform all these acts without any protection.
DOWNIE: Chris, I can‘t engage in that kind of speculation, you know that. We have a confidential-source relationship to protect here. Woodward protected the name of deep throat for 30 years. That is why he was seeking to protect this confidential-source relationship. But he should have told me about it.
TRANSLATION: It’s not easy as it looked in Deep Throat. But Bob can really get it on with his "sources." Sometimes he makes me jealous, but I live with it.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s talk about the role of an editor in a case of like this. Let‘s talk about the period between what Bob refers to as mid June of 2003 and the time that you ran… the Bob Novak column… Would[n’t] you have liked to have had that story sometime before he did it and would you have ran it, if Bob had given it to you.
TRANSLATION: You are aware that your Prima Donna Woodward who makes a huge salary as a Post editor allowed your own paper to be scooped by Bob Novak while you were asleep at the wheel?
DOWNIE: I would have liked to have known this from Bob at the time, so we could consider exactly the kind of considerations that you‘re raising now. We were unable to do that at the time. But, I don‘t know if our decision would have been we‘d be able to publish the story, because of the confidential nature of the interview.
TRANSLATION: As I said, Chris, it’s Bob’s World. We just live in it.
MATTHEWS: Andy Card was mentioned on-line today from “The Washington Post” as one of the other sources. Scooter Libby is the—who is the third? Are we going to know that at any time soon?
TRANSLATION: So when are you going to tell us what really happened?
DOWNIE: I don‘t know. Obviously, we‘re interested in having the source free us from our obligations. We‘ll have to wait and see if that happens.
TRANSLATION: I’ll have to check with Bob and get back to you.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the significance of this whole thing. As a journalist, as an editor of one of the great papers in the country and the world. Is it important—is there a conflict here between Bob‘s writing books—and they‘re hell of books, everybody reads them, they‘re best sellers—and his role as a daily newspaper editor?
TRANSLATION: So the Washington Post pretty much exists to serve Bob Woodward’s private for-profit interests?
DOWNIE: Scores of members on our staff, including myself on occasion, have written books. And we think that‘s an important thing for our professionals to be able to do.
TRANSLATION: That about sums it up.
MATTHEWS: Bob‘s been very tough on Fitzgerald. He has called him a junk-yard dog. He‘s dumped on this whole investigation. I think I understand why. I‘d like you to tell me why.
TRANSLATION: How come Woodward gets a free pass to break the Post’s ethical guidelines and go out in public to argue his own personal political position – and in a case of clear conflict of interest, no less?
DOWNIE: I have also told him that when he appears on television, he is not supposed to state his personal opinions. That is the policy of the Post and he is going to better about that in the future as well.
TRANSLATION: I’ve asked him to write “I’m sorry” ten times on the blackboard. Other people, we’d fire for that. But not Bob.
MATTHEWS: Well, I keep pushing for that opinion.