And the biggest play that gets is on A6--three weeks later:
A White House list of 10 terrorist plots disrupted by the United States has confused counterterrorism experts and officials, who say they cannot distinguish between the importance of some incidents on the list and others that were left off.
Intelligence officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the White House overstated the gravity of the plots by saying that they had been foiled, when most were far from ready to be executed. Others noted that the nation's color-coded threat index was not raised from yellow, or "elevated" risk of attack, to orange, or "high" risk, for most of the time covered by the incidents on the list....
"We don't know how they came to the conclusions they came to," said one counterterrorism official, who spoke anonymously for fear of angering the White House. "It's safe to say that most of the [intelligence] community doesn't think it's worth very much."
Looks like the CIA v. White House war continues! Anyway, it's instructive to look at how the major papers covered the president's speech. The Post simply, and mindlessly (Miller-like) parroted Bush's assertion: "BUSH SAYS 10 PLOTZ BY AL QAEDA WERE FOILED."
The other major papers did question the president's contentions. The Los Angeles Times in particular did a good job, noting citing "senior law enforcement officials" who "said authorities have not disrupted any operational terrorist plot within the United States." So the paper did the digging, but as is so often the case with the papers, it didn't feel comfortable putting that non-official storyline in the headline.
It's not about adhering to objectivity; it's about deference. After all , "PRESIDENT ASSERTS 10 'PLOTS' BY AL QAEDA FOILED, INTEL ANALYSTS SKEPTICAL" would have been an 'objective,' and informative, headline. But instead of that we got, "BUSH LIKENS WAR ON TERROR TO COLD WAR; Iraq is a staging ground for militants who seek a 'radical Islamic empire,' he warns, and says 10 Al Qaeda plots have been foiled since 9/11."
So today's lesson: The papers are willing to counter the official narrative. It's just they're trigger-shy about making the questioning itself the main story, even if the facts support such an interpretation. So what happens, as in the case of the LAT, is that the official narrative gets the headline--and with it the 80 percent of readers who just glance at the paper get misled.