Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ex-Navy Secretary James Webb Is an Honorable Gentleman

And Howard Kurtz and Shallagh Murray are not. The Washington Post's credibility as an objective reporter of news continues to drop, and is now less than zero.

From Whatever Already:

Whatever Already: The Washington Post this morning gives major play this morning to an attack of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) on the website of the (until now) obscure Cybercast News Service. It accuses Murtha--who won a Silver Star and three Bronze Stars in Vietnam-- of purportedly saying that he had not deserved to win two Purple Hearts also awarded him for his service during the Vietnam war.

The Post story, by reporters Howard Kurtz and Shallagh Murray, quotes extensively David Thibault, the editor in chief of the (who ever heard of them before the Washington Post decided to give them such prominence?) Cybercast News Service.... But the article tells us very little about Thibault himself... [does not describe] Thibault... as a "senior producer for a televised news magazine" broadcast and sponsored by the Republican National Committee. I dunno, but I for one, would have wanted to know that. Thibault's background and those engaging in the Swiftboating of Murtha would be relevant to any news story on this issue, I would think. And so would some independent examination by the Post as to whether there is even any veracity to the charges....

Update: 5:20 P.M., Saturday night: The Post article in amplifying the allegations of the Cybercast News Service... included a 1996 quote from Harry Fox, who worked for former represenative John Saylor (R-Pa.), teling a local newspapaer that Murtha was "pretending to be a big war hero."... What the Post leaves out... is that Saylor is deceased, and well, has been for some time now. (Saylor died way back in 1973.)... [T]he Washington Post is relying on something said by a person with an axe to grind (Fox), who is quoting someone who is deceased (but who the newspaper forgot to tell you is deceased.)... Makes you want to drop a dime to Howie Kurtz! But alas, Kurtz wrote the story. Oh well.

And Reaganite ex-Navy Secretary James Webb says:

firedoglake : In today's NYTimes, James Webb, former Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan Administration and former Marine platoon and company commander in Vietnam, calls the attacks on Jack Murtha for what they are: a baseless political smear, coordinated by a group with deep ties to the far right of the GOP. And he calls those behind the attacks for what they are as well:

The political tactic of playing up the soldiers on the battlefield while tearing down the reputations of veterans who oppose them could eventually cost the Republicans dearly. It may be one reason that a preponderance of the Iraq war veterans who thus far have decided to run for office are doing so as Democrats. A young American now serving in Iraq might rightly wonder whether his or her service will be deliberately misconstrued 20 years from now, in the next rendition of politically motivated spinmeisters who never had the courage to step forward and put their own lives on the line....

Kudos to James Webb for calling it like it is.

Those who shamefully "play up the soldiers on the battlefield while tearing down the reputations of veterans who oppose them" include not only Republican operative-hacks like David Thibault, but their journalistic megaphones like Shallagh Murray and Howard Kurtz.

If the Washington Post cared about its reputation as an objective news reporter, it would fire Murray and Kurtz today. Those print Washington Post reporters who care seriously about their own reputations are now writing memos to their bosses about how stories like this Kurtz-Murray one impact their own reputations as well.

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