Kathleen Parker


That about sums up my response to the past several weeks' guessing game regarding the tsunami in a thimble popularly known as Plamegate. Or Rove-a-Rama. Or Miller Time.

The hysteria about who leaked what to whom, when or where has all the elements of a non-story. That is, factually, there is no news. We don't know anything. It ain't news until "it" - whatever "it" is - happens. Or so it once was.

These days nothing - not even "Nothing" - thwarts the ravenous media beast. By the time this gets read, we may know everything. Or not. Some in the Bush administration may be indicted for leaking the name of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame/Wilson. Or not.

In the meantime, the media have been left to ruminate. To surmise, to wonder, to speculate. In Wednesday's "Hardball Briefing" e-mail, for instance, the evening's program was promoted this way:

"Another anxious day inside the Beltway as the chattering class, punditocracy and assorted political prognosticators attempt to divine the outcome of Patrick Fitzgerald's nearly two-year-old investigation into who outed CIA operative Valerie Plame/Wilson ."

Note the operative verb: to divine.

The headline on Drudge that same day summed up the spirit of this so-called/alleged/possible scandal: "D.C. Guessing Game Reaches Fever Pitch"

And so it has been from Day One - a D.C. guessing game. Ask most "ordinary Americans," as the media call people leading normal lives beyond the Beltway, whether Karl Rove or Vice President Dick Cheney leaked the name of Valerie Plame/Wilson to New York Times reporter Judith Miller - and they're likely to say, "Yeah, a beer sounds good."

If pressed, they might remember something vaguely familiar about "that spy business" and say something like, "Well, dang, I have no idea. Reckon we'll have to wait and see, now, won't we?"

Not the 24/7 media, which make nature look bashful around a vacuum.

While true that the media are not, in fact, a monolithic entity about which one can comfortably summarize, the industry's disparate parts function as an information ecosystem, nourishing and feeding upon one another along the food chain. It's hard to know where a story starts or stops - or who is accountable to whom - as a nugget of news travels with instaneity along television's circuitry or through the ethers of Blog.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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