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

August 2016

Don the Realtor

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Atlas Aggregated

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Origins of Speech

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Four in Verse

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Sigh and a Salute

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Four in Prose

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
Martin Amis on the rise of Trump, Tom Wolfe on the origins of speech, Art Spiegelman on Si Lewen, fiction by Diane Williams, and more

In Havana, the past year has been marked by a parade of bold-faced names from the north — John Kerry reopening the United States Embassy; Andrew Cuomo bringing a delegation of American business leaders; celebrities ranging from Joe Torre, traveling on behalf of Major League Baseball to oversee an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, to Jimmy Buffett, said to be considering opening one of his Margaritaville restaurants there. All this culminated with a three-day trip in March by Barack Obama, the first American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. But to those who know the city well, perhaps nothing said as much about the transformation of political relations between the United States and Cuba that began in December 2014 as a concert in the Tribuna Antiimperialista.

Illustration by Darrel Rees
Article
Don the Realtor·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"If you have ever wondered what it’s like, being a young and avaricious teetotal German-American philistine on the make in Manhattan, then your curiosity will be quenched by The Art of the Deal."
Photograph (detail) © Polly Borland/Exclusive by Getty Images
Article
The Origins of Speech·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"To Chomsky...every child’s language organ could use the 'deep structure,' 'universal grammar,' and 'language acquisition device' he was born with to express what he had to say, no matter whether it came out of his mouth in English or Urdu or Nagamese."
Illustration (detail) by Darrel Rees. Source photograph © Miroslav Dakov/Alamy Live News
Article
A Sigh and a Salute·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Si told me that various paintings had spoken to him, but he wished they had been hung closer together 'so they could talk to each other.' This observation planted a seed that would come to fruition years later in his mature work."
Artwork (detail) by Si Lewen
Article
El Bloqueo·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Amid the festivities and the flood of celebrities, it would be easy for Americans to miss that the central plank of the long-standing cold war against Cuba — the economic embargo — remains very much alive and well."
Photograph (detail) by Rose Marie Cromwell

Estimated temperature of Hell, according to two Spanish physicists ‘ interpretation of the Bible:

832°F

The ecosystems around Chernobyl, Ukraine, are now healthier than they were before the nuclear disaster, though radiation levels are still too high for human habitation.

A TSA agent in Seattle was arrested for taking up-skirt photos of women in the airport, a Maryland police officer was arrested for taking up-skirt photos of an off-duty colleague, and the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that taking up-skirt photos is legal in the state.

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