School for Scandal: The Matt and Judy Show

Smile And Say I Dont Have Any Cigaretts

Yesterday, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case of TIME's Matt Cooper and the NYT's Judith Miller, who now face jail time for refusing to reveal the identity of their administration source. It's the talk of Washington -- when we're not reading Presidential approval polls -- but you can be forgiven if you haven't kept up. We're here to help.

Who's involved?

The affair's been shorthanded to "The Matt and Judy Show," which makes it sound like they're singing show tunes at a Holiday Inn, but the cast of characters is actually quite large and includes noted First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams (representing Miller and the Times), former Bush solicitor general Ted Olson (Cooper's side), and, of course, He Who Cannot Be Named (Karl Rove).

Cocktail party version?

In order to smear admin critic Joe Wilson, someone in the White House told reporters that Wilson -- who had been an envoy investigating claims of an Iraqi nuclear operation -- only got the job because his wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame, recommended him. Yeah: Nepotism in the government! You know how that sort of thing riles up the Bush administration--the second Bush administration, we mean. No wonder people didn't really seem to care. Except that, well, she's a CIA agent. For obvious reasons, it is against the law to reveal the name of active CIA agents. Like, they might get killed.

An investigation was launched. Cooper, who filed an online-only piece on the news, Miller, who didn't write a piece about Plame, and columnist Robert Novak were subpoenaed to testify. Cooper and Miller refused to give up information and were charged with contempt of court. They now are experimenting with how to navigate a room without their backs ever leaving the wall. Mysteriously, Novak -- who outed Plame's CIA status in his Washington Post-syndicated column -- seems not to be going to jail...

If I want to add an obscure but fascinating detail?

Robert Novak has cloven hooves. Also, one of the other suspects for the leak is a guy nicknamed "Scooter." How fucked up is that?

Who gets the book deal?

Bob Woodward.

What rating would the movie version get?

Man, Miller curses like a sailor. PG 13.

If you had to add a "-gate," what would it be?

People have tried about eight different ones. Force us to choose and we go with the euphonious "YellowCakeGate."

What's my opinion?

Yes, Miller beat the drum for the admin about WMDs (how bad is your reporting if the NYT apologizes for it?), and, prior to this, Cooper was more famous for his stand-up act rather than standing up for anything, but we don't get to choose our martyrs. It would also be nice if instead of some mean-spirited goon in the admin they were protecting, like, a defenseless whistler-blower. A defenseless whistler-blower kitten. Yeah.

Why should I care?

Because fabricating evidence to drum up support for forcibly "extending American freedoms" and then throwing journalists in jail for reporting on that activity is "ironic," which the kids are very into these days. Also, in the movie version, Judith Miller would almost certainly be played be Jeanne Trippelhorn, and who doesn't want to see a Jeanne Trippelhorn women's prison movie? (In the unrated version Condi -- can they get Angela Bassett? -- can come to visit and, uhm, "gloat.")


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