Many players in Plame Game; the big question stumps 'em all

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"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome-and a special hello to all you prosecutors out there. It's time to play 'Source...or Consequences'-the game show where names matter and excuses count. Contestants, you remember the rules: Andy Warhol to the contrary, today everyone doesn't want to be famous for 15 minutes. It's your job to identify your informants, or come up with a really good reason not to. And remember, we're in match play now. If you answer, 'But I never wrote a story about it,' you still might get voted off the island.

"Now, let's meet our contestants.

"From New York City, he's held some of the grandest titles in American journalism including editor in chief of Time Inc. Rumored to be able to peel a banana with his toes, let's give a rousing round of applause to Norman Pearlstine!

"Our next contestant got his current job after his company's fact-checking mechanisms broke down and a reporter started filing exotic datelines from his apartment. Since then, all anonymous sources have their anonymity annotated in excruciating detail. Say hello to New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller!

"Finally, our current champion-the leader after an unprecedented 24 months. Known in Washington as the 'Prince of Darkness,' he testifies nightly on CNN, but in front of grand juries-well, only his attorney knows for sure. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back Robert Novak.

"Contestants, you know how to play. The first person to name the hidden source behind an important story stays out of jail. Provide the motive for the source's anonymity, and you can win a brand new car!

"First question. He prompted the Washington Post's Bob Woodward to rush to market with a Watergate retrospective entitled 'The Secret Man' and helped bring Carl Bernstein out of obscurity for the first time in years. Buzzer center! Norm Pearlstine?"

"Karl Rove!"

"No, I'm sorry. Buzzer left-Bill Keller."

"Mark Felt?"

"No! Buzzer right - yes, Bob Novak!"

"_______."

"I'm sorry, Bob, we can't hear you. Oops, there's the bell. Time's up. The correct answer is 'Graydon Carter.' Yes, Graydon Carter.

"Next question. In the July 15 New York Times story, a woman who said she was too distraught to give her name described seeing a Manhattan building collapse. Who was that woman? Buzzer right-Robert Novak!"

"______."

"I'm sorry, Bob, we still can't hear you. We'll ask the engineers to check your microphone. Buzzer center-Norm?"

"Karl Rove."

"Ah, no. Buzzer left! Yes-Bill Keller! Who was that woman who was too distraught to give her name?"

"I don't know."

"Correct! Why not?!"

"Because she was too distraught to give her name?"

"Yes!! And there's the whistle. That means it's time for the Whistle Blowers' Round. This week's question: Who outed CIA agent Valerie Plame? Yes-Bill Keller?"

"Norm Pearlstine."

"No, sorry. Buzzer center-Norm?"

"Karl Rove."

"Oh, my, no."

"Graydon Carter?"

"I'm sorry, Norm, you've had your chance. Bob, want to give it a shot? No? Oops, and there's the bell. Looks like time's up for this week. Be sure to tune in to the next 'Source...Or Consequences' when our contestants attempt to answer the special bonus question: Just why is Judy Miller in jail?"

Randall Rothenberg is an author and longtime journalist

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