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 adventures.
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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James Schlesinger, who passed away in March, was an elite member of hawkish policy circles for decades. In the 1970s, he served under several administrations as the director of the CIA, secretary of defense, and secretary of energy, before entering the corporate world and serving on government advisory panels for the remainder of his career. A lifelong advocate of nuclear weapons, he was once called the “Yoda” of nuclear strategists. Despite his generally hawkish views, Schlesinger evinced an independent streak, once warning military leaders not to take any order to mobilize from President Richard Nixon—whom Schlesinger thought was dangerously unstable—unless he or Henry Kissinger had approved it.
Bret Stephens, a Wall Street Journal columnist who has long trumpeted a hawkish “pro-Israel” line on Mideast policy, recently penned a satirical op-ed calling on Republicans to vote for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in the next presidential primary, because—he explained—what Republicans need as a “nominee in 2016 is a man of … glaring disqualifications. Someone so nakedly unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of sane Americans that only the GOP could think of nominating him.” Among the issues that mark Paul as a right-wing crazy, according to Stephens, is his insistence that Vice President Dick Cheney helped manufacture a “war in Iraq” for his friends in business and politics. But, asks Stephens, “Cui bono—to whose benefit? It's the signature question of every conspiracy theorist with an unhinged mind. Cheney. Halliburton. Big Oil. The military-industrial complex. Neocons. 9/11. Soldiers electrocuted in the shower. It all makes perfect sense, doesn't it?”
Jaime Daremblum, a former Costa Rican ambassador to the United States who now works at the neoconservative Hudson Institute, is a vocal proponent of conspiracy theories concerning an alleged Iranian plot to attack the United States in alliance with left-leaning governments in South America. He has been especially alarmist about Venezuela, whose democratically elected government he has described as a "virtual dictatorship," as well as Argentina, whose government he has accused of cooperating with an Iranian coverup of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.
Concerned Women for America (CWA), a Christian Right advocacy group founded to combat the influence of “anti-God” feminists, recently made “support for Israel” one of its core issues. As part of its newfound mission, the group lobbied in support of the Kirk-Menendez “insurance policy” sanctions on Iran, which critics said were designed to scuttle the ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. The group has also drawn controversy in recent years for supporting anti-gay legislation in Russia and for publishing a host of anti-Islamic statements.
Michael Hayden, the former top U.S. intelligence official who presided over the Bush administration's controversial warrantless wiretapping program, has been a staunch defender of the “enhanced interrogation” techniques championed by the Bush administration after the 9/11 attacks. When Sen. Diane Feinstein recently argued that a Senate-approved report on the CIA’s torture programs should be publicly released in order to help prevent such practices from being used again, Hayden claimed on Fox News that the senator was showing ”deep emotional feeling” but not objectivity, prompting a sharp backlash from critics who called the remark sexist and inaccurate.