Fred Hiatt is at it again. In an editorial today he wrote a line that underscores how he runs the Editorial pages of the Washington Post. It really should serves as his motto, as the yardstick by which he does his work:
“established facts are willfully ignored”
The paper would do its readers a service if they printed this at the top of the page as long as Hiatt is the editor.
Today he returns to one of his favorite hobby horses: defending lies that launched the war in Iraq and attacking anybody who might say otherwise.
Fred gets to do this on the Editorial pages of the WP despite the reality that his take on the Iraq War is usually at odds with the reporting in the paper. (The same could be said of Fred’s take on many other issues as well).
Today, Fred took after the recent movie, Fair Game. It was a film about the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame in retaliation for her husband’s criticism of one of the lies selling the war and how events impacted the couple’s relationship. Fred sticks to all the talking points of that Bush speechwriter he hired–you know the guy who had a hand in putting the words “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa” into Bush’s State of the Union speech.
Fred goes on to claim the the narrative of the film is false by twisting the reporting of two WP reporters to present conclusions of fact that are not supported by that reporting. Hiding behind reporters and spinning their work way out of context is one of Hiatt’s signature techniques. And in today’s editorial that technique is front and center. At best, the 6-13-2003 story Hiatt cites left the facts murky and by relying only on Bush Administration officials and some unnamed officials as sources the reporting can not be pointed to as being the final version of the truth. Perhaps Gerson was one of those sources. And regardless, the reporting did little change the major underlying fact that the war was based on lies and that the outing of Plame was just part of the massive effort to cover-up those lies. Good reporters like Pincus and bad ones like Judith Miller were both used to help push that cover-up. Hiatt wasn’t used as he was and is a willing participant. And he is still working 24/7 to sell the war and cover-up the truth.
Hiatt is an Iraq War dead-ender. He will say anything and twist any evidence to defend the lies he supported that led to the worst policy disaster in American history. From his perch as the Editorial Page Editor at a major American newspaper, Hiatt puts his thumb on reporters to get the outcome he wants and if their reporting doesn’t make Fred’s case he just does what he did in this morning’s editorial–he sets up strawmen to knock down and twist the reporting of others to make his case.
Today he goes after a movie because the film shines a light on the big lie Fred defends. And so Hiatt comes out with guns a blazing. He has two big points of contention, one is that the film shows Joe Wilson as a whistle blower who helped reveal WMD lies behind the push for war. Fred sets up a strawman argument that Wilson alone did not prove the yellow cake lie as some kind of proof that lying about WMD doesn’t matter and/or that the movie can’t be trusted because Fred thinks it tries to make Wilson into some kind of a hero.
Worst is Fred’s complaint that the film ‘invents’ Plame working uncover with a group of Iraqi scientist who were hung out to dry once her cover was blown. It is a well established fact that Plame was working on issues of nuclear proliferation and that when her cover was blown her contacts were in jeopardy. It is also true that Plame, the CIA and the filmmakers are not at liberty to say who these people were and what Countries were involved. The story line about Plame’s work taking place in Iraq gets to that truth even as it compresses facts and events to fit the narrative limitations of a movie and CIA restrictions about what can and cannot be said about her career as a spy.
It was a movie–you know, fiction that tries to get to larger truths about life. But because one of the truths that it tried to explore was the waste of the Iraq war, Fred had to go on the attack.
In his editorial, Fred demands more of Hollywood than a well made film. He demands that filmmakers adherer to provable facts as they craft their fictionalized narratives based on real events. In this way, Hiatt holds Hollywood to a much higher standaard than he holds himself and his collection of propagandists (George Will, Marc Thiessen, Michael Gerson, etc.) whom he lets play fast and loose with facts, history and truth as they craft their essays based on absolute bullshit.
Perhaps the fact that a Hollywood movie is more honest about the War (and life) than Hiatt’s Editorial page is what really sets the rat bastard off. The film exposes the insanity of the Iraq War on so many level and I guess that is why Fred felt compelled to go on the attack–an attack which twists the reporting of the WP to defend Fred’s lies and his efforts to keep the selling of the Iraq War as an active project of the WP Editorial Page.
If one wants to understand why Journalism is failing America one needs to look no further than Fred Hiatt. Any organization concerned with journalistic integrity would fire his lying ass. That he continues at the WP is an insult to the many decent reporters who work there and good reporters everywhere. Katharine Graham must be spinning in her grave.
Thereby guaranteeing that the Post will keep him there several years after his body decomposes.
It’s a sickening inversion of All the President’s Men.
Instead of talking back to power, and exposing lies and corruption, the WaPo IS that power and corruption.
Well, we all lived to see it.
He’s not expecting the movie to hold to a higher standard than his reporting. He’s attacking it with any excuse he thinks might possibly stick because it doesn’t support his meme. There is no inconsistency here. The rule is ‘I have to be right and you have to be wrong’ and he’s sticking to it. Sheesh, it’s the basis of the entire conservative movement post 9/11, isn’t it?
Let’s not forget that he also hired Marc fucking Thiessen to spew Iraq War lies.
Frank Capra was run out of DC by the DC press after Mr. Smith Goes To Washington was shown. They were furious that a reporter was shown as a drinker. This was in 1939 and Capra described the DC press as a kind of royalty. He used stronger words.
It never changes.
Davis X. Machina
@BGinCHI: They only made All the President’s Men because it was a man-bites-dog story.
The Post is a company paper, in a one-industry town. Always was.
Fabulous Freddie staffs his paper with the kind of people that surrounded Nixon during Watergate while Sally Quinn votes for her favorite DWTS contestant on her princess phone with one hand and dab’s drool off Ben Bradlees quivering lip with the other.
What a fucking nightmare.
You’d think the Republican’s have a list of people and institutions that they methodically skull fuck.
One can only hope (and if there was justice in the world it would happen) that an Iraqi who lost his family thanks to these monsters, would find Fred Hiatt late one night and carefully pay him back (just for a few hours before helping him find WMD’s in Hell) for the fun and games these twisted M’fers did. That would be fun to read in the War Crimes Post.
It’s no more Hiatt than it is Ailes.
Sure, they’re both assholes. But their bosses are even bigger assholes.
You can look it up….
“Established facts are willfully ignored, and new ones favored by our leaders will be made up.”
Here’s the thing that *amazes* me about people defending the “trying to buy uranium” story.
1) US intel *knew* that Iraq was not getting uranium from Niger; no deal was in progress, and, at most, there were some people talking about “you know, we’d like to *INCREASE OUR TRADE WITH YOU*. You know, NOTHING PARTICULAR*, just AN INCREASE IN TRADE” who clearly wanted uranium.
(1a. – this is why Wilson’s story confirmed the beliefs of the CIA – this is exactly what the CIA thought, that Iraq would like to have a seller on the line, but didn’t.)
2) The UK intel community didn’t know it was false. They probably didn’t care because Iraq already had many tons of yellowcake just sitting idle under seal.
3) Nevertheless, Bush pushed a false narrative – one he knew (or should have known) was false but nevertheless thought it was okay because he attributed it to the UK.
In what kind of world is this ever acceptable behavior? It’s a clear lie by omission if Bush knew the truth, and it’s clear evidence of rank incompetence if he didn’t.
I don’t even get how anyone can defend that without coming close to a fatal dose of embarrassment. It’s the kind of thing that makes me realize just how badly off we really are in this country. Because, in a healthy country, nearly no one would be willing to defend this.
added to the list of names because he is a poster child of why Hiatt sucks
Thanks for giving the dick a name check
This. Same reason that over at the LATimes, the Greatest Threat To Civilization is movie piracy.
@LongHairedWeirdo: Yeah, it doesn’t matter whether it was Bush or his handlers and speechwriters, he’s still responsible. The line was clearly written by people who knew that the impression they were trying to create was false, carefully couched in language that wasn’t technically a lie. It’s so transparent we wouldn’t let a six-year-old get away with it, but the people involved are still taken seriously.
In a healthy country, the national security advisor during the greatest national security failure of our lifetime would have resigned in disgrace. Instead, she was promoted, and is also still taken seriously in many quarters.
@Maude: Dear Maude,
That info: re Frank Capra and”Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” fascinates me as a film aficionado. I’d so appreciate a link so I could read more about this. Thanks.
To dengre: our corporate media is so corrupt that I truly fear for our democracy. Thank you for helping us focus on the big picture with your research/posts rather than manufactured poutrage de jours.
I went to see Fair Game just the other day; I hope Hiatt’s choice to highlight the film will get more people out to see it.
The most painful thing was watching the Plame character lying in her bed, looking at ignorant assholes use their microphones to tell the world that she had really been a glorified secretary.
And it was humorous –and by humorous I mean bitterly funny — to hear the Wilson trip to Niger called a “junket” after the scene where his character turns the tap in his skanky little sink and watches nasty black stuff spurt out of the faucet.
Rove was a malicious fat bastard, Libby a creepy snake, and nobody had to play Bush as an idiot. The film clips were perfectly adequate.
Katherine Graham spinning in her grave? Nah, this crap is old hat. Check out Deborah Davis’ unauthorized bio of KG, Katherine the Great for the history.
Pitch perfect, Dennis. Hiatt is a relentless maggot, ever eager to expel for consumption the detritus that is modern winger groupthink.
Damn, the attack on the Wikileaks people is ramping up (from a breaking AP story):
Julian Assange is now, apparently, fair game.
It was really obvious that that’s what they were doing, but I still have trouble understanding why they even bothered to use “language that wasn’t technically a lie”. I don’t think it was to avoid legal trouble– those guys were too arrogant to think that they were ever going to face trial (and, sadly, they were right about that). People who were going to buy their bullshit would’ve bought it straight without the song and dance, and if you weren’t going to buy it, the song and dance just made them look more clearly dishonest instead of mistaken.
So all I can imagine is that they really were six-year-olds at heart. I remember being that age and thinking it was really clever to whisper an inaudible “not” in the middle of a sentence– I didn’t lie, you just couldn’t hear the true part!– and being really dismayed at everyone’s lack of logic when they didn’t play along.
That seems about right. I was never ENTIRELY certain that we were lied into Iraq on false pretenses in a clear-cut way. That is, that Bush knew there were no WMDs. He walked into office and declared just about from day one that he’d like a reason to invade Iraq and take down Saddam. He stuffed the government and the intelligence community with people whose motivation was loyalty, not competence, and they looked. Excuses were piled up, and because they were supposed to look for reasons TO invade Iraq objections to whatever they sent in were left out. Eventually Bush is given a pile of information like ‘Here’s a report from England about Saddam buying yellowcake’ and ‘These aerial photos look like weapons facilities if you squint’ and goes ‘Yay, I was right, invading Iraq is the right thing to do!’ Then he orders his subordinates to come up with arguments that will help him convince congress, and we go around the circle of self-deception again.
I can see all of this being true. Easily. Any alcoholic has years of experience convincing himself of what he wants to be true, and Bush had years of experience in a crony system where people tell you what you want to hear – and that’s exactly what he set out to build in the White House.
Cheney, of course, might or might not have believed it. Who cares? He believes invading Iraq was correct because of the overarching virtue of Spreading American Hegemony. He’s an unabased neocon and has never tried to hide it. Things like WMDs are only necessary to convince the proles.
But what I can’t figure out is why idiots in the media are so gung-ho to this day to justify the war. Does Cognitive Dissonance have THAT powerful a hold over them?
Good post, but I have a nit to pick. Cognitive Dissonance would prevent the Beltway crowd from continuing to justify the Iraq invasion. You see Cognitive Dissonance posits that a person who holds a belief contrary to their behavior will either change the belief to fit the behavior or change the behavior to fit the belief.
Since neither is taking place they are obviously not troubled in the slightest by any cognitive dissonance.
A-fucking-men, Dennis. Awesome post.
here’s a must read piece by moe tkacik of the washington city paper on how the wapo covered the wikileaks without actually talking about, you know, the leaks
“…before the latest document dump it appeared that a grand total of three stories, comprising 4108 words of the 35,662 words of 2010 Post stories about which Wikileaks was the primary focus, actually required anything approaching a close read of any of the Wikileaked documents.”
one example: 14.2% or 5,064 words… “reporting” on and/or voicing the Pentagon’s strong condemnation of the Wikileaks….
The Republic of Stupidity
Unless Assange is taken into custody by police soon, wherever he’s hiding, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he gets gunned down by assailants unknown, the consequences of a ‘street robbery turned fatal’ or some other such nonsense…
I’m reading his book, Name Above The Title.
I’ve had it for years and just decided to read it again.
You should be able to get it from a library.
The Republic of Stupidity
I hereby nominate this line to be one of those revolving tag line-thingies at the top of the website…
Also… it s/b be the motto of the entire friggin’ rightwing-o-sphere…
I can’t help but notice that all of this is happening after Assange announced that his next target would be corporations, especially banks.
I think it has very little to do with the diplomatic leaks and a whole lot to do with corporations not wanting their secrets revealed.
@The Republic of Stupidity: ‘Heavily armed men in civilian clothing’ if he were in a variety of 3rd world nations, particularly Colombia or Mexico these days.
The Republic of Stupidity
Or Russia… don’t forget Russia…
They’ve been taking down their indigenous, meddlesome, annoying reporter-types w/ astonishing regularity of late…
I must repick your nit. YOU are using Cognitive Dissonance incorrectly. Cognitive Dissonance holds that people change their belief to match their behavior (rarely the other way). If it were occurring here it would be an absolutely classic example, where because they acted to declare their support of the Iraq war way the Hell back they rearranged their belief system into one that supports it and now will continue to support it come Hell or high water – even though they didn’t care before.
Yet another follower of the philosophy that was put into words by the Mythbuster Adam Savage:
Sadly, he was trying to be funny, not describe at least half of our electorate….
You could be very right here. I’ve had mixed feelings about some of the Wikileaks stuff, but mainly because it is one-sided and doesn’t release every government’s secrets.
But I am pissed over these relentless attempts to bring the entire project down.
By the way, although the stuff about banks could be big fun, the current claims that the next big reveal is about UFOs is either disinformation, or makes Assange look foolish.
Since that is true, does it make it “cognitive assonance? ” I mean, it’s true that they’re asses, so why wouldn’t that be the term of art?
Spot on. Thanks.
WE’RE NOT in the habit of writing movie reviews.
Who’s the ‘we’ Fred? You and the turd in your pocket?
Though it was long ago established that Mr. Wilson himself was not telling the truth – not about his mission to Niger and not about his wife – the myth endures. We’ll join the former president in hoping that future historians get it right.
Really, Fred? Indeed, future historians will remember how Pravda-on-the-Potomac helped lie us into endless war and homeland fascism. You’ve lied so much that even if you were to tell the truth, nobody would listen, because your market has shrunk to the same people who would buy Mitt Romney’s latest coloring book.
ps. Julian Assange and the real watchdogs at Wikileaks send their (low) regards!
@Davis X. Machina:
Quite true. Worth recalling that the political beat at the WP did not drive the Watergate story……It was a pair of police beat reporters. Had it been left to the editorial page nothing would have happened.
rule 1: Fred Hiatt knows everything because he is a Very Serious elder in the Village.
rule 2: You couldn’t possibly know something he doesn’t because he is a Greater Authority than you.
rule 3: If by chance Fred Hiatt was supposed to learn some new facts, he’d be told them by Very Serious conservatives.
I’m just surprised you didn’t have Charles Krauthammer’s name up there, too.
If ever there was a water carrier for neocon lies, Krauty would be the first guy at the trough.
What’s truly sad and scary for America’s future is that there is nothing these neocon assholes won’t assault in order to create their own new reality.
Torture, starting wars, what the founding fathers meant; the list is endless.
And do not underestimate them. Their first choice is Palin, Bill Kristol’s handpicked maiden.