Thursday, August 12, 2004

The "Washington Post" comes clean 

God bless the media and their capacity for self-criticism. It's now the "Washington Post"'s turn to flagellate itself for its pre-war news coverage. For "not reporting more skeptically on President Bush's contentions during the run-up to war," or specifically, the WMD evidence.

The paper which broke the Watergate story remains investigative to its very core, so much so that it's now investigating itself: "An examination of the paper's coverage, and interviews with more than a dozen of the editors and reporters involved, shows that The Post published a number of pieces challenging the White House, but rarely on the front page."

How to explain this shocking intelligence failure? What accounts for the "Post"'s unseemly drive to war? A nefarious neo-conservative cabal throwing their weight around at the editorial board meetings, perhaps? Or maybe some dirty advertising money from Halliburton? Or the reluctance to pre-empt yet another Bob Woodward "don't just tell all; tell even more" book?

No. "There was an attitude among editors: Look, we're going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?" says Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks. "I think I was part of the groupthink," says Mr Woodward himself, recalling that no one wanted to write anything that would make them look too silly if the weapons were eventually found. National security reporter Dana Priest adds that the atmosphere simply wasn't conducive anyway to publishing skeptical stories, as they would usually unleash hate mail "questioning your patriotism and suggesting that you somehow be delivered into the hands of the terrorists."

Not to worry. The "Post" has learned the lesson. There won't be any more unquestioning reporting, no groupthink, no fear of appearing unpatriotic. The "Post" will from now on fearlessly expose as mercenary liars all those who choose to question John Kerry's heroism in Vietnam. Ah, so good to have the balance restored.


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