A White House complaint about a talk-show host’s perceived emphasis on Jewish involvement in planning the Iraq war led to a conversation critical to the criminal case against Lewis Libby.
In 2003, Adam Levine, a White House spokesman, called MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews to complain that he was “sounding anti-Semitic” by constantly mentioning in his critiques Iraq war architects who were Jewish, according to a Washington Post profile of Matthews published Thursday.
Levine, who was once employed by Matthews, did not believe the fast-talking host was deliberately targeting Jews, but faulted him for constantly citing Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Libby, then a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Libby followed that up with a complaint about what he believed to be Matthews’ excessive Iraq war criticism to Tim Russert, NBC’s Washington bureau chief and higher up the network food chain than Matthews.
Libby claimed in depositions that it was in that conversation that Russert revealed to him Joseph Wilson, a prominent Iraq war critic, was married to Valerie Plame, a CIA operative. At Libby’s obstruction of justice trial last year, Russert denied it, and his testimony was critical in obtaining Libby’s conviction.
Prosecutors suggested Libby was part of a broader White House conspiracy aimed at discrediting Wilson.