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Katherine Graham's Legacy and Newsweek

Thursday, 19 May 2005 12:00 AM

The U.S. government blames Newsweek for igniting a wave of riots that took the lives of at least 17 people.

"Newsweek is guilty of pushing a false story they knew was unconfirmed but wanted to believe was true, and this time the result was tragic," said Media Research Center President Brent Bozell. But the tragedy may find its roots in the way Graham inflicted her liberal bias on her publications for almost four decades.

Washington Post aficionados say the paper's dogged pursuit of Richard Nixon by its reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein not only forced Nixon's removal, but made the paper a major force in U.S. politics, on a par with the then all-powerful New York Times.

But even today, critics say the Watergate probe was a result of Graham and her editorial staff's animosity toward Nixon, a fierce anti-communist.

And questions continue to linger about the Watergate reporting of Woodward and Bernstein.

Some have suggested the pair conveniently invented "Deep Throat" to satisfy the Post's claimed policy of having two sources back up a printed allegation.

By Woodward and Bernstein's own admission, Deep Throat never once provided new or original material to the reporters – he only confirmed stories that they uncovered from other sources. As any working journalist knows, a source who can confirm every major allegation should also be able to provide original material – if the source actually exists.

Perhaps the most notable make-believe story pushed by the Washington Post Company was Newsweek's 1983 exclusive of the century – Adolph Hitler's never-before-seen diaries.

As it turned out, the Newsweek "scoop" was a complete hoax. But only after a stream of international handwriting experts ripped the story did the magazine sheepishly admit it was fiction.

The Post itself has been no stranger to fantasy reporting.

On April 13, 1981, Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for a story titled "Jimmy's World," about an 8-year-old heroin addict.

Two days later she confessed that there really was no "Jimmy," that she presented a composite of child addicts and that her story was, in fact, fiction. She returned the prize and resigned.

Her prevarication would have come as no surprise to Post editors had they made an even cursory effort to check her credentials before they hired her.

When she sent her resume to the Post, she claimed she was a Phi Beta Kappa member at Vassar, had a master's degree in literature, spoke two languages fluently, had experience working in TV, had won a writing award at the Toledo Blade and held a membership in the National Association of Black Journalists.

When Post editor Ben Bradley got her letter, he sent it on to Metro editor Bob Woodward, warning him that he'd better hire her before the New York Times or one of the TV networks did.

Woodward took the bait and hired her. This widely acclaimed investigative journalist never bothered to check Cooke's credentials, which like her "Jimmy" story were nothing but fiction.

Woodward himself continues to attract widespread admiration for his alleged skills as a tireless investigative journalist, despite suspicions that he has been less than open about other major stories.

Noted author Edward Jay Epstein has said he doesn't buy Woodward's Deep Throat, pointing to evidence suggesting the source cited in Woodward and Bernstein's book "All the President's Men" was as fictional as Janet Cooke's Jimmy.

"Deep Throat certainly did not exist in the early versions of the book, according to Woodward's own book agent," wrote Epstein.

"The agent, David Obst, explains: ‘In the original draft of their book, Deep Throat was not mentioned. In the second draft he suddenly appeared and it was a better book for the addition, a much more exciting one.'

"Certainly, Woodward wrestling Deep Throat in a spooky garage is a more exciting scene than Woodward and Bernstein gleaning information from documents.

"If so, Deep Throat was conjured up between the first and final draft and took the place of the less exciting multiple sources and documents."

Among Woodward's other investigative feats was an alleged hospital bed interview with the dying Bill Casey, Reagan's legendary CIA director.

Woodward claims to have had an exclusive interview with Casey when the record shows that the man was protected by heavy security and was in a deep coma, incapable of talking to anybody, including his wife and daughter.

A particularly galling aspect of the Newsweek Quran story was the willingness of Newsweek editors to believe the worst about American soldiers – and publish the story willfully without regard for its possible repercussions.

Perhaps, again, it's the smoldering legacy of Graham, an unapologetic liberal elitist.

In recent weeks the Post has been one of the newspapers doing the work of the Democrats by leading the charge against Rep. Tom DeLay, the GOP's tough-as-nails majority leader.

The paper published a series of stories suggesting that the congressman has been guilty of criminal acts, which in fact were possible violations of House ethics rules routinely violated by a large number of Democratic and Republican members of Congress, often unknowingly.

But worse were the comments made recently by the Post's managing editor Philip Bennett, who was quoted as telling Red China's People's Daily: "I don't think the U.S. should be the leader of the world."

According to the government-controlled paper, Bennett went on to say: "I also think it is unhealthy to have one country as the leader of the world. People in other countries don't want to be led by foreign countries."

Among his other remarks to People's Daily's Washington correspondent Yong Tang, he was quoted as saying the U.S. isn't really promoting democracy. "If you look around the world in strategically important places, is the U.S. actively engaged there promoting democracy or not? I don't think there is much evidence that promoting democracy is what the U.S. is doing. It is what it says it is doing."

As NewsMax.com reported on March 14, the Post doesn't call China, one of the world's most repressive dictatorships, what it is: a dictatorship.

"Neither the Washington Post, nor the New York Times, nor (sic) any other big newspapers, refer to China today as a dictatorship regime," said Bennett. "We don't use these words anymore. Now we say China is a communist country only because it is a fact. China is ruled by the Communist party."

Apparently little has changed since the 1950s when the paper ponied up thousands of dollars to a con man who claimed to be an employee of Senator Joe McCarthy, and among other absurdities claimed that McCarthy was keeping a huge arsenal of weapons under the U.S. Capitol.


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The U.S. government blames Newsweek for igniting a wave of riots that took the lives of at least 17 people. "Newsweek is guilty of pushing a false story they knew was unconfirmed but wanted to believe was true, and this time the result was tragic," said Media Research...
Thursday, 19 May 2005 12:00 AM
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