That is the only way to read NBC's just-issued statement on why they deleted key portions of Andrea Mitchell's interview after we reported on it here earlier today.
[Background: We reported earlier today that NBC's Andrea Mitchell, while interviewing New York Times' reporter James Risen (the man who broke the domestic spying scandal) asked Risen if there was any evidence to suggest Bush was spying on US journalists. When Risen said none that he knew of, Mitchell then pressed the issue again and asked if there was any evidence that Bush was spying on CNN's Christiane Amanpour. We reported on the fact that Mitchell seemed to know something, and shortly thereafter NBC deleted the section of the transcript dealing with Amanpour.]
Via Atrios and MediaBistro:
Unfortunately this transcript was released prematurely. It was a topic on which we had not completed our reporting, and it was not broadcast on 'NBC Nightly News' nor on any other NBC News program. We removed that section of the transcript so that we may further continue our inquiry.This is quite big. Note exactly what NBC said.
- NBC did not say it pulled the references to Bush spying on Amanpour because it was inappropriate conjecture about something which Andrea Mitchell had no evidence.
- No, NBC said it pulled the references because it was still investigating the accusation and didn't want to scoop itself before it was finished investigating. And make no mistake, NBC is "continuing their inquiry."
- UPDATE: One more point. NBC did NOT delete the part of the interview preceding the Amanpour question - where Mitchell asks if any reporters are being spied on. They only deleted the follow-up question about whether Amanpour was being spied on. Thus, their premature release of info regarding an "ongoing inquiry" wasn't about reporters generally - or they'd have deleted that part of the interview as well - they only deleted the Amanpour follow-up, suggesting that it's the question of whether Bush spied on Amanpour that they have been, and are still, investigating.
That's incredibly big news.
NBC has acknowledged that they have information to suggest that Bush may have spied (be spying) on CNN's Christiane Amanpour and that NBC is currently investigating that very possibility. This isn't just conjecture anymore, NBC has confirmed it.
You can read about how NBC changed the transcript of the interview after we reported on it here.
And you can read how spying on CNN's Amanpour could end up involving Bill Clinton, John Kerry and General Wesley Clark here.