Even more than most national journalists, The Washington Post‘s Fred Hiatt has been a stalwart defender of the Bush administration with regard to the U.S. attorneys scandal. On March 26, 2007 — just two weeks ago — Hiatt wrote:
Mr. Gonzales finds himself in this mess because he and others in his shop appear to have tried to cover up something that, as far as we yet know, didn’t need covering. U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president — with the advice and consent of the Senate. The president was entitled to replace any he chose, as long as he wasn’t intending to short-circuit ongoing investigations.
While the Editorial acknowledged that there appears to have been what Hiatt politely called “shifting explanations for the eventual dismissals of eight federal prosecutors,” he argued that there was no evidence of any underlying impropriety with regard to the firings themselves.
As Greenwald notes, today is another story all together. Suddenly, David Iglesias‘ firing is worthy of further investigation. Says the WaPo:
Mr. Sampson’s testimony showed that Mr. Iglesias was added to the list after Mr. Rove also complained to the attorney general about Mr. Iglesias’s supposedly poor performance on voter fraud. This revelation not only adds to the evidence undercutting the attorney general’s professions of ignorance about the whole episode; it deepens the sense that the judgment about whom to fire was influenced, if not dictated, by political considerations.
Of course, had you been reading this blog, or any number of blogs over the last two months, you would have already come to that conclusion. Greenwald:
Everything Hiatt argued here has been known for many, many weeks — really for months. Yet until today, Hiatt and his comrades in the national press were insisting that there was absolutely no underlying impropriety here — and that there was no reason other than petty political games which could possibly motivate anyone to want to question poor, beleaguered Karl Rove under oath.
But the whole time, all of the evidence Hiatt just cited was publicly known. And it has been exactly that evidence which bloggers and then Democratic Senators were pointing to in order to insist that there was substantial evidence to suggest very serious wrongdoing with regard to the reason these prosecutors were fired.
All arguments regarding old vs. new media aside, the WaPo editorial board is finally seeing the light. If that’s the case, that’s just more traction for a story that is already “distracting” for some of those involved.