Some of the ins and outs of inside-the-Beltway political reporting were exposed in the testimony at the Lewis Libby trial and NBC's Kelly O'Donnell told us the story. The Vice President's former aide Cathie Martin detailed how Dick Cheney tried to set up a spin zone around the reporting of the purported Niger-Iraq uranium trade. Cheney himself dictated eight talking points to her when he got wind from the CIA that NBC's Andrea Mitchell was digging into the details. Cheney was so eager to pressure Mitchell to present his side of the story that he took Martin off the job and assigned it to Chief of Staff Libby instead. O'Donnell reaired Mitchell's eventual soundbite: "Today the White House said we know now that documents alleging transactions between Iraq and Niger have been forged."
A second uranium trading story surfaced in the Caucasus. A sting operation in Georgia led to the arrest of a Russian trader for trying to sell a four-ounce sample of nuclear-weapons grade uranium. Oleg Khinsagov allegedly promised that he had access to four pounds more. CBS was the only network to cover the case. Bob Orr did so from Washington, not from Tbilisi, and he illustrated the threat posed by Khinsagov's supposed cache with a thriller clip from TV's 24.
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