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 is a leading neoconservative policy pundit, a cofounder of numerous militarist pressure groups, and an important backer of U.S. overseas military interventions like the Iraq War.
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 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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Brigette Gabriel, a Lebanese-born anti-Islamic activist and founder of the right-wing group ACT! for America, is notorious for making fear-mongering claims about terrorism and Islam. She has called the Islamic faith “not compatible with Western civilization” and insisted that a practicing Muslim “cannot be a loyal citizen of the United States.” At a Heritage Foundation event earlier this year, Gabriel drew scrutiny after she verbally attacked a Muslim American law student, questioning whether the student was an American. More recently, capitalizing on right-wing hysteria over immigration and extremist groups in the Middle East, Gabriel alleged that ISIS members were crossing into the U.S. from Mexico, citing reports from unnamed “members of the Department of Homeland Security.”
As a director of the Project for the New American Century in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Gary Schmitt helped spread inaccurate information about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction and promote the invasion of Iraq. Schmitt subsequently supported U.S. intervention in Syria, whose own civil war was directly linked to the fallout from Iraq. Schmitt has also been a vocal advocate of NATO expansion, which many observers think has contributed to the current tensions between the West and Russia. Schmitt has also advocated revoking U.S. security guarantees for Western European countries unless they increase their military budgets and adopt a more controversial approach to Russia.
AIPAC’s failed efforts to force U.S. intervention in Syria’s civil war and to scuttle U.S. nuclear negotiations with Iran, along with its increasing alienation from younger Jewish Americans on the Palestinian issue, have led many critics of the lobby to conclude that its formidable influence is slowly eroding. “Today, a growing number of American Jews, though still devoted to Israel, struggle with the lack of progress toward peace with the Palestinians. Many feel that AIPAC does not speak for them,” reported The New Yorker in a lengthy profile last August. On the other hand, the group was still able to push through emergency funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, prompting one GOP Senate aide to complain, “The worst part was having to vote for this at a time we are all so upset by the killing in Gaza. It's as if AIPAC knows how angry we are so the whole Senate has to take their test. They will make us cast a totally symbolic vote, just to show who's in charge.”
Despite the origins of the terrorist group ISIS in the fallout of the Iraq War, leading Iraq hawk Bill Kristol has no qualms about potential blowback from sending U.S. troops back to the country. “Intellectuals overthink things,” he said in August. “We got involved in Afghanistan to bring down the Soviet Union and probably helped create, indirectly, some of what came about in Afghanistan and ideas that led to 9/11. That’s life. Maybe we could have been cleverer in all these cases, but often, when you mess around in the real world, you have unintended effects and some of them are bad.” Seeming to forget his previous point, Kristol concluded by wondering, “What’s the harm of bombing [ISIS] at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens? I don’t think there’s much in the way of unanticipated side effects that could be bad there. We could kill a lot of very bad guys.”
The controversial anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller—notorious for her “pro-Israel” ads in subway systems referring to Muslims as “savages”—recently convened a small rally in New York in support of Israel’s latest war on Gaza. Attempting to link Hamas to ISIS and other far-flung terrorist groups, Geller said the rally was aimed in part at stopping “the enemedia”—Geller’s term for most media outlets—“from separating the threat to the Jews from the threat to everybody.” When a writer for the Huffington Post estimated the turnout of the rally at 150—as opposed to the “thousands” claimed by Geller—Geller responded, “Who is the Huffington Post shilling for—the Islamic State? Clearly, they'd like to see my severed head on a pole.”