No Comment — March 12, 2009, 9:12 am

Does Fred Hiatt Read His Own Paper?

Fred Hiatt’s Washington Post editorial page, having misrepresented the scientific data on global warming, now takes one more step down the yellow brick road by taking on the Charles Freeman affair. Freeman withdrew from consideration as chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC) on Tuesday; he laid the blame for his withdrawal on the Israel lobbies. The Post‘s editorial-page response:

Crackpot tirades such as his have always had an eager audience here and around the world. The real question is why an administration that says it aims to depoliticize U.S. intelligence estimates would have chosen such a man to oversee them.

So any talk about the Israel lobbies and their influence is “crackpot” in the world of Fred Hiatt. Then how do you explain the Post’s own reporting on the subject by Walter Pincus, the dean of Washington’s national security reporters? Here’s what Pincus wrote:

Only a few Jewish organizations came out publicly against Freeman’s appointment, but a handful of pro-Israeli bloggers and employees of other organizations worked behind the scenes to raise concerns with members of Congress, their staffs and the media. For example, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), often described as the most influential pro-Israel lobbying group in Washington, “took no position on this matter and did not lobby the Hill on it,” spokesman Josh Block said.

But Block responded to reporters’ questions and provided critical material about Freeman, albeit always on background, meaning his comments could not be attributed to him, according to three journalists who spoke to him. Asked about this yesterday, Block replied: “As is the case with many, many issues every day, when there is general media interest in a subject, I often provide publicly available information to journalists on background.” Yesterday, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, which tried to derail Freeman’s appointment, applauded his withdrawal. But it added: “We think Israel and any presumed ‘lobby’ had far less effect on the outcome than the common-sensical belief that the person who is the gatekeeper of intelligence information for the President of the United States should be unencumbered by payments from foreign governments.”

Do Hiatt and his sidekick Jackson Diehl actually read their paper’s own reporting? It looks doubtful. In any event, I have every confidence in Pincus’s reporting; he’s hardly a crackpot. On the other hand, the editorial page seems to provide more ballast for the Mearsheimer and Walt thesis, particularly when, as today, it tells us, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”


Note: as my colleague Ken Silverstein pointed out earlier today, the New York Times is also a crackpot organization.

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