The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
August 10 2003 and the way journalism works
If you get hold of Susan Moeller's study (PDF) of the reporting of WMD over three specified periods - and you most assuredly should! - and search on august 10 you'll find it crops up twice:
Walter Pincus that is, of course.
On first reading, these statements may suggest nothing more than their natural meaning.
Except - August 10 2003 lies within none of the three periods under review!
Now, I can't be certain that somewhere in Moeller's 100 page report, she doesn't explain the significance. If so, she manages to do it without mentioning the date.
And (a much less persuasive piece of evidence!) it's passed me by each time I've read it.
A piece by Harry Jaffe from the September 2003 issue of the Washingtonian (cited by Moeller) tells of Pincus' travails with WaPo editors over WMD.
There is even a quote from Dana Priest, decrying Pincus' treatment:
It was ridiculous. Many of the stories were buried. Editors continually undervalued what he does.
The turning point  seems to be a piece - U.S. Hedges on Finding Iraqi Weapons - of May 29 2003, written with (first-named) Karen DeYoung, and put on the front page.
On August 10 2003, WaPo fronted a piece  - Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence - written with (also first-named) Barton Gellman, on Iraq's nuclear weapon programme. (Or rather the lack of one.)
Ari Berman in Nation, after outlining Pincus' earlier travails, called it (September 17 2003)
a 5,663-word front-page report that will likely be considered the magnum opus of the intelligence fiasco...
(Pincus also cropped up in my February 10 piece on Michael Massing's NYROB article on the media and Iraqi WMD.)
So, where's the beef?
As it turns out, only a couple of thin slices:
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