Wrong About Rove?

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 23, 2006; 7:54 AM

I reported yesterday (and if you missed it, start paying attention!) that the liberal Web site Truthout.org was standing by its claim that Karl Rove had been secretly indicted in the CIA leak case, despite strong denials by the White House aide's lawyer and spokesman.

Why the Rove team would lie about information that, if true, was certain to come out soon was never quite clear. More than three dozen mainstream journalists checked on the Truthout report but could not confirm a word of it.

Now Truthout has backed off, at least partially, from the story by reporter Jason Leopold, who has had some credibility problems in the past (as he acknowledges in a new book) but has also worked for such news outlets as the L.A. Times and Dow Jones.

Marc Ash , the site's founder, writes:

"On Saturday afternoon, May 13, 2006, TruthOut ran a story titled, 'Karl Rove Indicted on Charges of Perjury, Lying to Investigators.' The story stated in part that top Bush aide Karl Rove had earlier that day been indicted on the charges set forth in the story's title.

"The time has now come, however, to issue a partial apology to our readership for this story. While we paid very careful attention to the sourcing on this story, we erred in getting too far out in front of the news-cycle. In moving as quickly as we did, we caused more confusion than clarity. And that was a disservice to our readership and we regret it."

Um, what exactly does that mean? That the story was wrong? That they're not sure whether it was wrong? That it was right but published too soon?

Salon's Tim Grieve put that question to Ash, "and his answer seemed to be a pretty unequivocal no. Although Rove's lawyer and his spokesman have both said that Leopold's story was false, Ash said that Truthout still believes that Patrick Fitzgerald, Karl Rove and Rove lawyer Robert Luskin participated in a 15-hour plea-negotiation session at Patton Boggs last Friday; that Fitzgerald gave Rove's lawyers a copy of an indictment charging Rove with perjury and lying to investigators; and that Fitzgerald told Rove's lawyers that their client had 24 hours -- or 24 business hours -- to get his affairs in order."

Luskin, you may recall, said he was taking his cat to the vet that day.

"So why apologize for the story? Leopold's story quoted 'sources close to the case' who predicted an indictment announcement last week, and Ash told us that Truthout 'hoped and felt strongly' that Fitzgerald would announce Rove's indictment on Friday. That it didn't happen was a cause for concern, Ash said.

"In addition, Ash said that he's uncertain about some of the events leading up to and following the meeting that supposedly happened last Friday at Patton Boggs. Ash said he isn't sure now when the grand jury voted to indict Rove, although he said he remains confident that it did so before last Friday. He said that he isn't sure what's going on now to warrant keeping the alleged indictment under wraps, although he suggested that it must mean that Rove's team is cooperating with Fitzgerald somehow."

Joe's Dartblog rips the original report:

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