I used to have respect for the Washington Post. It was my hometown paper for many years and I took some pride in believing that it was one of the few papers in the US which at least tried to be somewhat non-partisan. Much to my dismay, their latest article on Sarah Palin presents such a blatantly false and deceptive interpretation of one of her recent statements that I sadly have to admit that the Post has finally sold out and become part of the leftist lie machine.
In what is inexplicably presented as a news story, not an editorial, Washington Post staff writer Anne Kornblut writes:
Gov. Sarah Palin linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would “defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.”
The idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaeda plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a view once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself. But it is widely agreed that militants allied with al-Qaeda have taken root in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion.
The remainder of the story is basically factual, but this opening statement is so blatantly biased, relying on what can only be a deliberate misinterpretation of Palin’s words, that it really dismays me to think that the Post has sunk to such a low level of partisanship. Spinning her words this way is the equivalent of lying, and doing it in the context of a news article is just reprehensible.
It’s the inclusion of that first sentence in the second paragraph which takes this from news to propaganda. Palin did not say the troops were going to fight Saddam Hussein and his regime or that Hussein’s regime was in any way connected to 9/11, as Kornblut suggests. That would require a time machine. In fact, what she says is that the troops are going to defend the innocent – the people of Iraq – from those who planned the death of thousands of Americans, which could very well mean al Qaeda which still has some surviving fighters in Iraq, or could mean the insurgents who have killed thousands of Americans in Iraq, or it could apply to the whole Islamic jihadist movement which includes both groups. What it clearly does not refer to is Saddam Hussein or his long gone government, nor does she mention the 9/11 attack anywhere in association with the quote. The specific connection of the troops mission in Iraq to 9/11 is made by Kornblut, but not in Palin’s actual speech. Palin only makes a general reference to 9/11 later in the speech. So Kornblut’s suggestion that Palin associated Saddam Hussein’s Iraq with 9/11 is completely false and in no way supported by what Palin actually said. Kornblut’s intent here is clearly to make Palin look foolish and uninformed, but to achieve that goal she has to resort to effectively putting words in Palin’s mouth which she didn’t say.
The complete speech is only 7 minutes long, and I’ve included the full video here because it’s very difficult to find on YouTube. The story has now been picked up and repeated in editorials in left-leaning journals like The Nation and all over the blogosphere. No one has bothered to look at what Palin actually said and question the interpretation which Kornblut applied to her words. It doesn’t serve the interests of those who are looking for any ammunition with which to attack Palin to examine Kornblut’s biased reporting too closely.
I’m not going to go so far as to suggest that Kornblut ought to be fired over this. But the editors at the Washington Post are not doing their jobs if they are letting blatant bias like this slip into print in a news article.