The Washington Post goes post-reality

The fabled paper is, like most US newspapers, no longer serious


Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford star as Washington Post journalists Woodward and Bernstein in All The President's Men

June 11, 2024 11:09

How many Washington Post journalists does it take to get a story right? At least 12, but don’t stop there.

Eleven authors were credited on the Post’s story of June 8 headlined “More than 200 Palestinians killed in Israeli hostage raid in Gaza”. None of them thought it worth mentioning that the four Israeli hostages had not been kept in tunnels by Hamas, but in private homes in crowded apartment blocks.

As Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute observed, this raises “disturbing questions about broad complicity in their captivity”. That raises a couple of other disturbing questions.

One is the notion, popular in the White House and the foreign ministries of every Western government, that the Gazan Palestinians should not be confused with Hamas.

This is confusing. The same Gazans joined with Hamas in its rampage on October 7 and danced in the streets as Israeli captives were paraded. In early December, according to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 82 per cent of Gazans believed that Hamas was correct in launching the October 7 attack.

Another disturbing question is the broad complicity of most American media in Hamas’ information war. I exempt from this the Wall Street Journal (for which I write). The Journal is the last serious paper in America. The rest have shown themselves to be little more than hostile propaganda when it comes to anything to do with Israel.

When I think of the Washington Post, which admittedly is not often, I think of Woodward and Bernstein. Actually, I think of Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Woodward and Bernstein. This not the reality. I am all in favour of typewriters and corduroy but All the President’s Men doesn’t quite tell it like it was – and the Post, then as now, doesn’t like to tell it how it is.

A friend in DC once told me that the Post isn’t a newspaper, so much as a community noticeboard. Like the frustrated FBI man Mark Felt, the anonymous source who set Woodward and Bernstein on the trail of Watergate, US government employees supply material to the Post to serve inter-agency rivalry or to advance their careers.

Perhaps the question isn’t how many Post journalists it takes to get a story right. It’s why they would try to get it right when the reality they seek to reflect isn’t out there in the world, but around them in the DC bubble, which is as unreal as it gets.

The reality is that last weekend, pro-Palestinian protesters gathered at the gates of the White House. They vandalised statues of Jean-Baptiste Rochambeau, who fought with Washington in the War of Independence, and President Andrew Jackson.

The Post reported the “pro-ceasefire” vandalism in its capacity as a local newspaper. The slogans were all power-washed off by the park rangers, so no harm done. The Post did not mention the man in the Hamas headband waving a bloodied Joe Biden mask, or the man burning an American flag. No arrests were made.

The reality is also that most American media are similarly incurious about the funding behind the campus protests, while the Internal Revenue Service is oddly uninterested in the links between American non-profits and designated terrorist organisations. It is barely worth asking the disturbing question of how this is allowed to happen, because we already know the answer. It is a matter of policy, directed by the White House.

The same policy explains why it is that, eight months into the Gaza war, the Biden administration is only now asking its allies in Qatar, Egypt and Turkey to threaten to freeze Hamas’ bank accounts and restrict its leaders’ movements. Asking, not telling.

We would be better served by a media which asked questions about this.

June 11, 2024 11:09

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