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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Max Boot, a neoconservative military historian based at the Council on Foreign Relations, has urged the United States “unambiguously to embrace its imperial role” and asserted that “America should be the world’s policeman.” Boot, who is also a veteran of the Project for the New American Century and a lifelong Republican, is among a small group of neoconservatives—many of whom are concerned about the rise of an anti-interventionist faction in the GOP—to express tentative support for a potential presidential candidacy by Hillary Clinton, whom Boot has credited as “a principled voice for a strong stand on controversial issues, whether supporting the Afghan surge or the intervention in Libya.”
Despite Robert Kagan's deep ties to the neoconservative movement, the Brookings Institution historian has carefully sought to frame his work in a bipartisan manner. Kagan's efforts have earned him an audience in the Obama White House, where he has had the opportunity to exchange views with the president. Now, with a resurgent anti-interventionist wing challenging the neoconservatives for dominance in the GOP, Kagan has hinted that he would consider backing a presidential bid by Hillary Clinton, who has frequently expressed hawkish views. "I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy," said Kagan, a lifelong apologist for U.S. "superpower."
Ahmed Chalabi, the onetime Iraqi exile who aggressively courted neoconservative support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq by spreading falsehoods about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, long ago fell out of favor in Washington and has never enjoyed much popular support in Iraq, where he currently serves in parliament. But amid Iraq's current political crisis, Chalabi has been floated as a possible compromise candidate to replace Nouri al-Maliki as the prime minister of Iraq—and some of his old neoconservative allies, especially Richard Perle, have expressed joy at the possibility. Concluded a writer for the Washington Post, "It seems a sad indication of the absurdity of the past 11 years of Iraqi history that the man who helped dupe U.S. officials into that invasion should now be backed in his bid for leadership by those very same people."
Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has advocated bombing Iran for years, once admitting that even his mom thought he’d “gone too far.” He recently wrote that U.S. credibility "is overwhelmingly built on Washington’s willingness to use force" and lamented that the Obama administration's reluctance to intervene in Syria's civil war amounts to "retreat" from the region. Dismissing the supposed moderation of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Gerecht has also advised U.S. policymakers to "forget diplomacy" with Iran and instead bolster sanctions and military threats.
Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and an avid foreign policy hawk in her own right, is slowly returning to the spotlight after her disastrous primary challenge to Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) last year. In addition to penning hawkish screeds against the Obama administration’s policies in Iraq and cofounding a hardline new 501(c)4 group with her father Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney is reportedly seeking to mend ties with the Republican establishment she alienated during her Senate bid, possibly in preparation for another run for office.