- The Washington Times - Monday, April 16, 2007

Paperless trail

If the White House truly can’t find four years’ worth of e-mails written by chief political strategist Karl Rove, the question, or so one leading Washington forensic investigator posited yesterday to Inside the Beltway, is: “Where have they really looked?”

In an interview, the forensic investigator explained that even after people supposedly “wiped and cleaned” computer files, the electronically stored information, such as e-mail and other electronic correspondence “can still recovered from a variety of sources: network files, computer laptops, BlackBerries, cell phones, CDs, DVDs, USB drives and, yes, even IPods.

“It seems, then, that the White House simply needs to understand [Mr. Rove’s] gadget of choice and see where the data leads,” concludes the investigator, who because of security issues spoke on the condition of anonymity. “One thing I tell my clients is never to put anything in an e-mail that you wouldn’t want your mother, a prosecutor or a journalist to read.”

Meanwhile, Democrats led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont remain concerned by the administration’s admission that some of Mr. Rove’s lost e-mails dealt with last year’s firing of eight federal prosecutors. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales will testify before the committee this week about his role in those firings.

Mr. Leahy has equated the case of the missing e-mails to the infamous 18-minute gap on Richard Nixon’s Watergate tapes.

‘Big Russ’ and who?

A senior editor of one Washington magazine has had his fill of TV “journalists” — Katie Couric, Tim Russert and Dan Rather among them — who have either “stolen” the work of others and called it their own, or else leave it to network producers and ghostwriters to accomplish their “craft.”

Andrew Ferguson, senior editor of the Weekly Standard, published under editor William Kristol and executive editor Fred Barnes, begins his complaints with “Katie Couric’s Notebook,” supposedly the CBS News anchor’s daily one-minute commentary.

Mr. Ferguson writes of one recent “Notebook” about which, according to a CBS spokeswoman, “Katie ‘was horrified’ to discover that the words that had come out of her mouth and had been published under her name were in fact the work of someone else” — in this case Jeffrey Zaslow, whose column on the same subject appeared earlier in the Wall Street Journal.

As for Mrs. Couric being “horrified,” the magazine editor says that’s difficult to imagine.

“When she spoke and published the words, Katie had to know they weren’t her own,” he says. “When the words came out of her mouth, she thought they were the work of someone she had hired to put them there. In TV, this someone is called a ‘producer,’ and several of them … work at writing the commentaries that Katie presents as her ‘Notebook.’ ”

The “usual answer” Mr. Ferguson says he often hears is “journalists like Katie are simply too busy to write.”

“Dan Rather,” he notes, “who used to be as busy as Katie, would often go on and on about how television was a ‘writer’s medium’ and how ‘good writing’ was essential to his ‘craft,’ and he put his money where his mouth was by hiring a bunch of writers to do his good writing for him.”

As for Mr. Russert, moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press”?

“The TV journalist Tim Russert is not only enormously busy, he’s a sentimental old poop,” Mr. Ferguson opines in the Weekly Standard’s April 23 issue. “His love for his dad is so impossible to contain that he was moved to hire a ghostwriter — an expensive one, too, William Novak, author of the seminal ‘Iacocca’ — to write about how much he loves his dad. I mean how much he, Tim, loves his dad.

“The first-person account was titled ‘Big Russ and Me.’ Again, the Me in the title was supposed to be Tim, not Novak.”

Chef and Sarge

Arnel Esposo, executive chef of the Palette Restaurant in downtown Washington, who previously was chef de partie under Michel Richard at Citronelle and sous chef at Red Sage, is being deployed to Iraq — but to fight, not cook.

“My last day at the restaurant is Thursday,” the 40-year-old Mr. Esposo, the married father of a 16-month-old son, tells Inside the Beltway.

A sergeant in Alpha Company of the Maryland Army National Guard, Mr. Esposo joined the military upon graduating high school. A veteran of both Desert Storm and Desert Shield, his infantry unit has now been called up to battle the enemy in Iraq.

As for the Palette kitchen, in the Madison Hotel on 15th Street Northwest, Mr. Esposo says the award-winning cooking “will go on without me.”

“They will replace me for at least a year, but I have strong support from our manager, Carlos Landazuri. He told me, ‘Don’t worry, everything will be all right. Just look out for yourself over there.’ ”

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin @washingtontimes.com.

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