NY Times Digs and Finds a Hole
Over the weekend, the ProJo ran a NY Times piece that divulged that (gasp) the Pentagon squired around ex-military types–some even with ties to military contractors–in an attempt to get favorable press about the Iraq War. Stunning, no? Both Max Boot and John Podhoretz have a say, with Podhoretz offering up an inside-baseball reason as to why 7800 words were necessary to explain this “gee, whoda thunk” story…
In the end, however, The story reads like a work of investigative journalism that came up entirely dry. Perhaps Barstow was tipped off to something seriously rotten and saw a Pulitzer dangling before him if he could only get chapter and verse. Perhaps someone else at the Times was, and threw the assignment to Barstow. Whatever is the case, there proved to be no there there, and Barstow was left with a huge amount of information with no clear act of wrongdoing.
So he did what is called a “notebook dump,” with the approval and even encouragement of his editors, revealing every single bit of information he uncovered. What began as a possible major scoop ended up as a “thumbsucker,” one of those “this is a cautionary tale about the way the Bush administration tried to spin the public.” Barstow’s endless tale reveals nothing more than that the Pentagon treated former military personnel like VIPs, courted them and served them extremely well, in hopes of getting the kind of coverage that would counteract the nastier stuff written about the Defense Department in the media.
Another Pentagon strategy that’s worked so well, right?