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Editorial Malpractise

Comment by Mark Ames 

The Nation  December 10, 2008 

Over the past few years, the Washington Post’s editorial page has pushed an increasingly hostile line toward Russia, painting complex developments there in Manichaean terms and accusing the Kremlin–and usually Vladimir Putin–of responsibility for just about anything that goes wrong, real or imagined, in that part of the world. During the recent war between Russia and Georgia, Post editorials placed the blame squarely on alleged Russian neo-imperialism, going so far as to deny that the Georgians had inflicted serious destruction on the South Ossetian capital, despite reports from human rights organizations, the OSCE and even the Post’s own journalists. This hardline, deeply flawed position by one of the nation’s most influential editorial pages has played a leading role in driving America and Russia to the brink of a new cold war.   

A hyperbolic October 22 lead editorial, “More Poison: Another prominent adversary of Vladimir Putin is mysteriously exposed to toxins,” led me to ask the Post’s editorial page editor and onetime Moscow bureau co-chief, Fred Hiatt, about his sources for the paper’s charges. Hiatt’s painstaking response unintentionally offered a rare glimpse into how, when it comes to Russia and Putin, the editorial page’s incessant demonization puts more weight on ideology than on journalistic professionalism–or simple fact-checking. …full article

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