By Tracy Dingmann
There’s a huge story in our backyard…but you wouldn’t know it from reading today’s Albuquerque Journal.
The U.S. attorney firing scandal involving David Iglesias, Heather Wilson, Patricia Madrid, Allen Weh, Pat Rogers, Pete Domenici and Karl Rove is one of the biggest stories to come down the pike in a long time.
The story was fascinating and disturbing all at once when it broke in 2006 – years ago– and on Tuesday it got even more intriguing when the House Judiciary Committee released thousands of documents revealing – among many other things – that it’s very likely Bush advisor Karl Rove orchestrated Iglesias’s firing.
The tentacles of this story range far and wide. Some of the most puzzling and newest questions involve a purported FBI investigation of Patsy Madrid, the former New Mexico Attorney General and rival of Heather Wilson in the 2006 congressional race.
The House Judiciary Committee report concluded that Wilson’s complaints about U.S. Attorney David Iglesias contributed to his eventual firing. In a rapid response press release reported in the Journal, Wilson denied the Committee’s charge. Further, she asserted that a key document at the heart of its finding was being misinterpreted. Instead of criticizing Iglesias, Wilson claims she had been alluding to concerns she had about an FBI investigation of Madrid.
In the wake of that Journal story, Iglesias responded by saying that no such FBI probe existed, thus calling into question an element essential to Wilson’s claim. Was there an FBI investigation, or not?
Since the document dump, the national media has been all over this story – parts of the story more than others. Newsweek and the New York Times focused on the Iglesias and Rove dynamic, while the influential Talking Points Memo explored some Pat Rogers-related material that was of much local interest.
Locally, the New Mexico Independent and the Santa Fe New Mexican covered the initial story and followed up with examinations of some of the many lingering questions that remain. Today they both reported that the Committee testimony of Karl Rove contradicts Wilson account.
All of the media outlets mentioned are still cranking out material on this giant story – except for the Journal.
On the day the documents were released, the Journal ran a “first-day” story detailing the Rove-Iglesias revelation and some of the other explosive allegations. Late that same day, Washington correspondent Michael Coleman ran a “second-day” story featuring Wilson’s vehement denial of the Judiciary Committee’s allegations. The Journal trumpeted the fact that Wilson gave a statement to the Journal exclusively, and it ran her statement verbatim.
Coleman followed up on Wednesday with a solid story detailing some of its more puzzling aspects.
And then – nothing.
New Mexicans have many questions about this saga, which reaches into the highest levels of the Bush administration and pervades New Mexico politics. As the “home-owned, home-operated” paper that ostensibly covers New Mexico, the Albuquerque Journal has the perfect platform and opportunity, not to mention the responsibility, to uncover this story from the bottom to the top.
It’s my opinion that readers of the Albuquerque Journal deserve continuing, probing coverage of this story from the city and state’s vaunted “Paper of Record.”