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:

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

April 2015

The Joke

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Abolish High School

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Beat Reporter

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Going It Alone

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Rotten Ice

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Life After Guantánamo

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

[Browsings]
Photograph by the author
Article
Rotten Ice·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“When I asked if we were going to die, he smiled and said, ‘Imaqa.’ Maybe.”
Photograph © Kari Medig
Article
Life After Guantánamo·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I’ve seen the hell and I’m still in the beginning of my life.”
Illustration by Caroline Gamon
Article
Going It Alone·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The call to solitude is universal. It requires no cloister walls and no administrative bureaucracy, only the commitment to sit down and still ourselves to our particular aloneness.”
Photograph by Richard Misrach
Article
No Slant to the Sun·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“She didn’t speak the language, beyond “¿cuánto?” and “demasiado,” but that didn’t stop her. She wanted things. She wanted life, new experiences, a change in the routine.”
Photograph © Stuart Franklin/Magnum Photos

Acreage of a Christian nudist colony under development in Florida:

240

Florida’s wildlife officials decided to remove the manatee, which has a mild taste that readily adapts to recipes for beef, from the state’s endangered-species list.

A 64-year-old mother and her 44-year-old son were arrested for running a gang that stole more than $100,000 worth of toothbrushes from Publix, Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS stores in Florida.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Driving Mr. Albert

By

He could be one of a million beach-bound, black-socked Florida retirees, not the man who, by some odd happenstance of life, possesses the brain of Albert Einstein — literally cut it out of the dead scientist's head.

Subscribe Today