The Leak: The Novak Article
Eight days after the piece appeared in The New York Times, conservative columnist Robert Novak published an installment of his column in the Washington Post, "Mission to Niger," that revealed Joe Wilson's family connections to U.S. intelligence agencies and identified Valerie Plame by name:
"[Wilson's] wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. "
And with a single sentenceNovak had undone Plame's undercover career, and suggested that the entire fact-finding trip had been merely an act of nepotism, a paid junket to an exotic locale.
Chris Matthews, the fire-breathing liberal host of Hardball on MSNBC rang up Wilson. He'd been talking to White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who said, "and I quote, 'Wilson's wife is fair game.'"
Andrew Mitchell, an NBC reporter, also called and told Wilson that another "senior White House official" had told her that "the real story here is not the sixteen words in the State of the Union but Wilson and his wife."