Permalink | Date posted: May 30, 2011
Many commentators have noticed a decidedly hawkish bent among the columnists of the Washington Post in recent years. Although the Post continues to publish a number of progressive writers—like the Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel and the American Prospect's Harold Meyerson—the newspaper's hiring in 2010 of neoconservative ideologue Jennifer Rubin and torture-apologist Marc Thiessen appeared to mark a decisive turn toward an aggressively hawkish outlook for one of the country's premier sources of opinion and political commentary, leading some to question the editorial direction of editorial page chief Fred Hiatt.
It is important that a newspaper provide space to a broad spectrum of opinions in order to be "fair and balanced." The trouble is, even before Rubin and Thiessen were brought on board, the Post had a stable of reliable—and generally more thoughtful—neocons like Charles Krauthammer and Robert Kagan. The rationale provided for the recent hires also raised questions. For instance, in announcing Rubin's hire, the Post said that she would serve as a counterpart to liberal Greg Sargent’s “Plum Line." But as one writer observed, that explanation revealed a great deal "about the way that 'balance' is understood in the mainstream media. Sargent certainly leans liberal, but he is also a very good reporter who breaks stories and is willing to criticize the Democrats; Rubin, by contrast, has no real experience as a reporter ... and has never met a Republican or Likud talking point she didn’t like."
In this, the inaugural edition of Right Web's "Militarist Monitor" project—which aims to put a spotlight on important trends in militarist discourse in the United States—we feature profiles of WaPo's key hawks and neoconservatives, as well as an assortment of additional resources for investigating the newspaper’s long march to the militarist right since the attacks of 9/11 and the campaign to push the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Will Iran be next? As one well known conservative blogger wrote nearly two years ago, “The way in which the WaPo has been coopted by the neocon right, especially in its editorial pages, is getting more and more disturbing.”
Since Jackson Diehl took over as the Washington Post’s deputy editorial page editor in 2001, the newspaper’s editorial slant has become increasingly hawkish and conservative.
Jennifer Rubin is a blogger at the Washington Post who is notorious for her anti-liberal invective and “pro-Israel” advocacy.
Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer is a trailblazing neoconservative ideologue and an unapologetic advocate for U.S. overseas militarism.
Robert Kagan, a cofounder of the Project for the New American Century, is a neoconservative policy pundit and historian based at the Brookings Institution.
Marc Thiessen, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, is a Washington Post columnist and American Enterprise Institute visiting fellow known for his defense of hawkish U.S. security and defense policies, including “enhanced interrogation techniques."
Applebaum, a program director at the London-based Legatum Institute and a former American Enterprise Institute fellow, writes a column for the Washington Post in which she has revealed an on-again-off-again affinity for U.S. military interventions, including pushing the idea that President Obama must be prepared to go to war with Iran.
A conservative syndicated columnist who writes regularly for the Washington Post, Gerson’s track record includes coining the phrase “axis of evil” and developing the Bush administration’s messaging on the Iraq War.
Hiatt, the Washington Post’s “liberal hawk” editorial page editor, says that he is opposed to the efforts of some of his contributors—like neoconservative pundit Jennifer Rubin—to demonize opponents by referring to their “mental health,” but he apparently sees no reason to “censor” them.
With the United States bogged down in an increasingly ugly war in Iraq, tensions rising between Tehran and Washington, and…
Robert Perry, “Giving War a Chance,” Consortium News, April 21, 2011.
On the Washington Post’s and New York Times’ promotion of expanding U.S. military intervention in Libya.
Eli Clifton, “Washington Post ‘Conservative’ Blogger Aligned With the Pro-Israel Far Right,” ThinkProgress, February 5, 2011.
On the Post’s embrace of a hawkish “pro-Israel” ideologue.
Ali Gharib, “Conservative Pundit Jennifer Rubin Joins the Mainstream Media,” Columbia Journalism Review, December 7, 2010.
Hiatt and Rubin comment on the Post’s decision to hire Rubin.
Daniel Luban, “Will Pamela Geller Be Next?” Lobelog, November 24, 2010.
When the Post hired former Bush speechwriter and torture enthusiast Marc Thiessen as an opinion columnist, I encountered widespread disgust and some outrage among the people I talked to about the hire. Reaction to the Jennifer Rubin hire, by contrast, has largely consisted of amusement and incredulous smirks. “What was Fred Hiatt thinking?”
Jamison Foser, “The myth of the 'liberal' Washington Post opinion pages,” Media Matters, February 19, 2010.
There may be no better example of the absurdity of the "liberal media" myth than the widespread notion that the Post's opinion pages lean to the left.
Glenn Greenwald, “Persecution of the Right and the Washington Post Op-Ed,” Salon.com, June 19, 2009.
A single-day sampling of militarism on the Post’s editorial page, including several writers pushing President Obama about “freedom” in Iran.
Glenn Greenwald, “The Washington Post fires its best columnist. Why?” Salon.com, June 18, 2009.
On the firing of Dan Froomkin.
Jason Linkins, “Washington Post Promotes Editor Who Dismissed Concerns Of Pre-War Coverage,” Huffington Post, February 21, 2009.
It is not just the Post’s editorial pages that have taken a hawkish turn in recent years.
Eric Boehlert, “The Washington Post's crush on right-wing bloggers,” Media Matters, February 26, 2007.
The Post has a love-hate relationship with right-wing bloggers. The Post loves the bloggers, but the bloggers hate the Post.
James Pinkerton, “The Washington Post's creeping hawkishness,” Salon.com, August 4, 2004.
Once it challenged Nixon. Now the supposedly liberal Post is attacking Senator Kerry for not fully embracing the Iraq War.
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The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a neoconservative think tank and advocacy group based in Washington, has endeavored to undermine the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran. FDD executive director Mark Dubowitz recently voiced support for measures by hawkish members of Congress that seek to give Congress a greater role in the negotiations, such as getting an “up or down vote on” any deal. Dubowitz has also suggested that Congress “defend the sanctions architecture” on Iran even if an agreement is reached.
The Center for Security Policy (CSP), run by notorious Islamophobe Frank Gaffney, has rabidly opposed negotiating with Iran over its country’s nuclear program. With the deadline to reach an agreement fast approaching, CSP fellows have argued that it would pose “an existential threat to Israel” and a “deadly threat to U.S. national security.” They have also urged Congress to “repudiate the nuclear talks and any agreement resulting from them.”
AIPAC, “America’s pro-Israel lobby,” has attempted to influence the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 by supporting hawkish congressional measures that many analysts say could derail the diplomatic process. The lobby has strongly endorsed a letter from Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) pressuring Secretary of State John Kerry to broaden the scope of demands in a potential agreement, which many observers have criticized as containing “distortions of the truth.”
Although largely dormant in recent years, the Committee on the Present Danger—the Cold War-era pressure group that was re-launched after 9/11 with support from leading neoconservatives—continues to use it website to plug fear-mongering media stories and op-eds, focusing mainly on Iran. One recent article, written by a CPD member, rails against efforts to reach a diplomatic compromise over Iran’s nuclear program, claiming: “It is hard to rationalize the past history of this fanatical Muslim regime’s secret nuclear efforts and any hope that it would abide by such an agreement, or, indeed, that UN or other surveillance would be more effective than in the past.”
The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), a leading neoconservative think tank, sought to frame the 2014 midterm elections as a “foreign policy election,” even though only 13 percent of voters listed foreign policy as a top issue in exit polls. FPI nevertheless hopes that the Republican-controlled Senate will “actively lead on foreign policy issues” and has prioritized passing Sen. Robert Menendez’s controversial Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act. The bill would impose additional sanctions on Iran and would likely scuttle on-going negotiations with Iran.