Why Does The Washington Post Print Obvious Inaccurate Information?

by Brien Jackson

Putting aside the laughability factor of treating the writing of a former Bush chief speechwriter credulously, Marc Thiessen’s Op-Ed in yesterday’s Washington Post contained a number of blatantly inaccurate claims, the most blatant of which being the contention that the torture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed provided the information that led to the foiling of a terrorist plot to attack the West Coast. But, as Sully catalogues, the plot was alleged to have been foiled in 2002, while KSM was not captured until 2003. In other words, it’s simply not possible for Thieseen’s claim to be true.

I think that getting worked up about Bush administration officials and staffers telling abject lies is rather pointless. On some level it would almost feel weird if they weren’t lying. But the real question here isn’t why Thiessen decided to write a column full of outright lies to defend his former boss, it’s why The Washington Post agreed to print something full of egregious factual inaccuracies. To be sure, these aren’t debateable points. It’s not Thiessen’s opinion that the torture of KSM yielded information that stopped a plot a year or so before KSM was captured. If Thiessen does, in fact, believe that statement is true, then Thiessen is ignorant of the facts in question, and the statement is still completely inaccurate. What’s not clear is why the Post editors, who are presumably paid to, you know, edit, apparently didn’t bother to do even a rudimentary fact check on Thiessan’s claims, or if they did, why they decided to print a piece they knew contained a number of flase contentions.

Obviously this isn’t anything new for the Post, but that pretty clearly doesn’t make it any better. The simple fact of the matter is that Fred Hiatt has turned the Post into the pre-eminent mainstream outlet of neoconservative propaganda in the country, and the people above Hiatt in the organization have allowed him to do it.

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