No Comment — July 6, 2009, 8:50 am

A Lady of Loose Virtues

Gone forever is the Washington Post of Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee. The new Washington Post reflects the world and values of Fred Hiatt and Katherine Weymouth. As Ken Silverstein noted on Thursday, the paper has emerged as the Village’s Lady of Loose Virtues; not only does she report on the world of the Beltway, she fully reflects its compromised values. Senior WaPo editors hit upon a new way to raise revenue: they decided to sell access to political movers-and-shakers, pulling back from the scheme only when they noted the public outrage it provoked. The critical reception of this breathtaking act of journalistic pimpery is documented by Charles Kaiser. The Post’s dissembling in the face of accusations and its painfully involuntary path to corrective measures is chronicled by Melinda Henneberger, who concludes with a warranted call for an internal probe. But the sale of the Washington Post editorial page to players in the health care industry is nothing new. That territory was pioneered by WaPo’s “dean,” David Broder, as Ken Silverstein discovered a year back, who took trips and honoraria from health care groups and then wrote columns that reflected their interests.

The Post’s shameless effort to exploit the health-care crisis for profit won’t really surprise anyone who’s followed the WaPo’s editorial pages for the last eight years. In what Thomas E. Mann and Norman Ornstein noted was the most corrupt epoch in American political history, the WaPo editorial page consistently failed to find a voice of outrage. With the arrival of the Obama team, the rate of decay has noticeably accelerated. The paper is busy establishing itself as the nation’s remainder bin for tired Neocons. Editors like Jackson Diehl and Fred Hiatt, who worked feverishly to sell America on the necessity of invading Iraq, now beat the drums loudly for their new project, the bombing of Iran. Indeed, only a few days ago John Bolton, now a regular for WaPo (along with Paul Wolfowitz, Charles Krauthammer and William Kristol), argued why the Green Revolution helps make the case for bombing Iran.

Significantly, the uprising in Iran also makes it more likely that an effective public diplomacy campaign could be waged in the country to explain to Iranians that [a bombing of Iranian sites] is directed against the regime, not against the Iranian people. This was always true, but it has become even more important to make this case emphatically, when the gulf between the Islamic revolution of 1979 and the citizens of Iran has never been clearer or wider. Military action against Iran’s nuclear program and the ultimate goal of regime change can be worked together consistently.

Could we imagine clearer evidence of the Neocons’ limitless capacity for self-delusion? In the Neocon world, every new historical development is twisted to serve a preconceived goal. With Hiatt’s blessing, Bolton is arguing that the Iranians will welcome all those bombs falling in their midst, as an agency of revolutionary change. But this is no more delusional than comparable editorials that filled the op-ed pages of the Post in the run-up to the Iraq War.

What lessons did WaPo’s Neocon management learn from the Iraq experience? That can be answered simply. They learned that it is useful to silence the voices who called them on their lies and distortions. That explains the firing of Dan Froomkin, which the paper’s ombudsman has labored–very unconvincingly–to portray as an economically-motivated decision. (Of course–in the midst of a downturn, the answer is to fire the web writer who brings in the heaviest traffic, and bring aboard a writer who was laid off by the Times for embarrassing sloppiness and errors).

But aside from its embarrassing editorial page, the Post has some of the best investigative reporters in the business. It’s a national institution. It needs to be salvaged. There’s an obvious solution. That’s to bring back the likes of Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee. They have worthy successors in the world of the media; the trick is to find them.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

July 2016

American Idle

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

My Holy Land Vacation

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The City That Bleeds

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

El Bloqueo

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Vladivostok Station

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Ideology of Isolation

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
"We all know in France that as soon as a politician starts saying that some problem will be solved at the European level, that means no one is going to do anything."
Photograph (detail) by Stefan Boness
Post
Tom Bissell on touring Israel with Christian Zionists, Joy Gordon on the Cuban embargo, Lawrence Jackson on Freddie Gray and the makings of an American uprising, a story by Paul Yoon, and more

Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.

The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.

Artwork: Camels, Jerusalem (detail) copyright Martin Parr/Magnum Photos
[Report]
How to Make Your Own AR-15·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Even if federal gun-control advocates got everything they wanted, they couldn’t prevent America’s most popular rifle from being made, sold, and used. Understanding why this is true requires an examination of how the firearm is made.
Illustration by Jeremy Traum
Article
My Holy Land Vacation·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"I wanted to more fully understand why conservative politics had become synonymous with no-questions-asked support of Israel."
Illustration (detail) by Matthew Richardson
Article
The City That Bleeds·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing."
Photograph (detail) © Wil Sands/Fractures Collective

Percentage of British citizens who say that Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom:

27

In the United Kingdom, a penis-shaped Kentish strawberry was not made by snails.

The Playboy mansion in California was bought by the heir to the Twinkie fortune, and a New Mexico man set fire to his apartment to protest his neighbors’ loud lovemaking.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today