The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal Offer Radically Different Versions – But What Is At Stake?

The New York Times front page story yesterday on the investigation into the firing of several US attorneys makes a clear case for Rove’s involvement: “Thousands of pages of internal e-mail and once-secret Congressional testimony showed Tuesday that Karl Rove and other senior aides in the Bush White House played an earlier and more active role than was previously known in the 2006 firings of a number of United States attorneys.”

Contrast page four of yesterday’s Wall Street Journal: “House Democrats turned over to federal prosecutors thousands of investigative documents Tuesday, alleging they are evidence of impropriety by Karl Rove and other Bush White House officials in the controversial 2006 firing of nine U.S. attorneys.” The report went on to say: “It remains far from certain whether the 5,400 pages of emails and other documents released Tuesday contain information that would help prosecutors bring criminal charges against Mr. Rove.”

The Times followed up today with an editorial that underscored the seriousness of the evidence, and urging Congress to continue its investigation, while the Journal’s editorial page was silent.

This could simply be rival efforts to spin the story in different directions, though it is startling to have such discrepancies. Are there other, more hidden motives at work here?

Rove, of course, now works for The Journal as a columnist. So he is one of them. On the other hand, it looks as if reporters for The Times may have had some help from Congressional staffers in sifting through the “thousands of pages of internal email” to uncover the significant nuggets of damning information. This is more than spin. It looks like war.

I have no inside information — which would obviously be helpful in figuring out what is going on here. But I can read some of the signs of what is obscured, and what I am picking up is that something more important is at stake here than just new evidence. Is it about putting Rove in jail? Are there those in the Obama administration who might not want to go so far? Are there others at risk from the investigation, bigger fish than Rove? Could this be designed to distract the Rovian republicans from the health care debates?

Stay tuned.