Friday, November 05, 2004
Tuesday's other losers
Joseph Wilson--When Wilson claimed that his clandestine work proved the Bush administration was lying about alleged Iraqi attempts to procure uranium from Niger, he was lionized as a courageous truthteller willing to stand up to a corrupt and deceitful administration. Oops. In fact, the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee review of pre-Iraq war intelligence concluded that Wilson's findings contradicted his earlier public claims and that despite his insistence that his wife, undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame, had had nothing to do with his selection, his work was undertaken after she recommended him for the job. The media buried those reports.
Richard Clarke--Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism czar, was similarly celebrated when he published a book criticizing the Bush administration's conduct of the war on terror and the Iraq war. The Fox News Channel released a transcript of a background briefing Clarke gave while he was still at the White House in which Clarke praised some of the very efforts he would later criticize. Most journalists focused on the propriety of Fox's action, not the contradictions in Clarke's accounts. Clarke also argued that Iraq had never supported al Qaeda, "ever." Several months later, the final 9/11 Commission report, however, quoted an email Clarke had written in 1999 in which he cited the existence of an agreement between Iraq and al Qaeda as evidence that Saddam Hussein had assisted al Qaeda with chemical weapons. Most journalists ignored the revelation.
Dan Rather--The CBS anchor aired a story about "new" documents suggesting that the young George W. Bush had received preferential treatment from political big-wigs to avoid serving in the Vietnam war. The documents were forged--something CBS had been warned about before the story was broadcast. When numerous forensic document experts concluded that the memos were fraudulent, Rather lashed out at his critics as partisan hacks and spoke of the supposed broader truth of the allegations. Although CBS later backed away from the story, Rather never apologized to President Bush.
The Missing Explosives--Eight days before Election Day the New York Times published a major story about missing high explosives in Iraq. The Times's account was based largely on an erroneous assessment from IAEA chief Mohamed El Baradei. The Times collaborated on the piece with 60 Minutes, and a producer from CBS admitted that they had hoped to hold the story for October 31--two days before voters would go to the polls.