Tuesday, December 26, 2006

DKos diary, 12/26/06 Investigate W. Post not John Murtha

The Washington Post’s newest attack on John Murtha may have some credibility. Hard to say. It’s a little like Tony Soprano accusing a local New Jersey official of corruption. In the last six years we have seen a complete failure of character on the part of the press at the highest ranks, and at no place more so than The Washington Post. The Post absolutely egged on the Dungeon & Dragons warriors in the Oval Office. It pioneered the concept of embedded journalists; but Post reporters have long been embedded in one thing or another. The Post accommodated, appeased and enabled war fever in this country and in doing so it has blood on its hands. That blood is the blood of American soldiers. It should be called to responsibility. Murtha was the Gray Champion who first stood up in defense of these soldiers and identified this call to war as a deception.

Someone needs to do an investigation of The Washington Post from top to bottom. They might start with their star reporter, Bob Woodward. Directly after the 9/11 I had an email conversation with an editor of the NYTs. I said there should be a fictitious remake of All the President’s Men to be directed by Robert Redford with a Navy intelligence operative working as a young reporter insinuating “Watergate” stories into The Washington Post. I suggested that “Deep Throat” was all a dramatic ploy and could well be a government operative from the CIA or NSA. And when Woodward’s Council of Elders decided Nixon was getting to be too much trouble (and the country on the verge of civil war, as Kissinger said at the time), he was alerted. What a surprise a year or so later to learn that Deep Throat was actually in fact, an FBI agent.

This revelation brought only an ambiguous letdown at the time, perhaps because Woodward was a cult figure to his generation, with admiration bordering on idolatry, like Tiny Tim and Saturday Night Live funny man John Belushi. I always wondered why. His career has been spent idolizing CIA chiefs and military commanders, some with no strategic ability, and he writes with the grace of Agent Smith. He even wrote a whole book demonizing the harmless clown John Belushi, thought to be back then the funniest man in America.

Compare the careers of Bob Woodward with Wayne King, who are about the same age and went through similar career paths; Woodward becoming a managing editor of the Post, Wayne managing editor of the NYTs. King went to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an undergraduate. There he went through a characteristic journalism apprenticeship interviewing people like Malcolm X and got a job after college at the Detroit Free Press. He covered the civil rights riots in Detroit and won a Pulitzer Prize for his efforts. He was then drafted into the NYTs and served as managing editor for many years. In those days it was said that the only way for a reporter to get to the Post or the NYTs was by winning a Pulitzer at a small paper.

After graduating from Yale, Woodward worked in Navy “information services” for five years. After brief, regional newspaper work he went directly to the Post and on to major stories like Watergate.

I think Nora Ephron should write this fictitious movie, Redford direct: Redford star as Ben Bradlee, old school Cold War warrior, patriot and Post editor; Nora Ephron as Katharine Graham, the paper’s owner; Warren Beatty or Jack Nicholson as Nixon and Leonardo DiCaprio – by day a young, mild-mannered newspaper reporter, by night an undercover Navy intelligence officer or undercover NSA operator - and Matt Damon as his toked-up sidekick, Carl Bernstein.

Woodward was all balls-to-the-wall with this Iraq invasion, hyperventilating with his neocon buddies on Jim Lehrer’s Newshour just days before the invasion. He wrote the phony Bush at War to egg them on, then when it turned bad on them, he turned on them with State of Denial.

Perhaps it has all been a Washington Post scan from beginning to end; even before Watergate. One of the first efforts of the new Congress should be to form a commission to find out: To what degree are Post reporters beholden to other agencies; to what degree other countries?

Hercules first task was to clean the stables, so while we are cleaning stables we might consider a Quisling Commission to discover which reporters, Senators, State people and Administrators are agents acting in the service of other countries (including Israel and Saudi Arabia - including George W. Bush – including all Bushes and all Clintons; the stables are long – it will need to be a big commission).

We in our country have forgotten it but a quisling is a citizen of one country who is actually acting as an agent for another. This was once considered such bad form that if you did this say in the Korean War, you would be taken outside and shot. But today the question to the Senator might not be are you an agent say of Israel or Saudi Arabia, but to what degree are you an agent of a foreign country. It's not just the Republicans. A Commission like this would have to pioneer new ethical standards and benchmarks: a $ 50,000 donation to a Senator would make you a fellow traveler, for example, $100,000 a quisling. Help of one million dollars or more would make you a traitor.