Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Did the NYTimes try to kick Bush out of the White House?

You remember Al Qaqaa, don't you? It was all over the NYTimes in the 10 days before the election, with all of the coverage extremely critical of the Bush administration. Since the election, nothing. If you want a great timeline of the Al Qaqaa cycle, along with some honest answers from Daniel Okrent, the NY Times' "public editor," check out this Byron York story. Herewith, some excerpts:

On Monday, October 25, 2004, the New York Times published a 2,600-word front page story headlined "Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished From Site in Iraq." Written by three Times journalists who reported from Baghdad and Yusifaiya in Iraq, as well as Vienna, New York, Washington, and Crawford, Texas, the article reported that about 380 tons of very high explosives — munitions that could be used by Iraqi insurgents to attack American troops — were missing, and had probably been looted, from Iraq's Al Qaqaa weapons-storage facility. *** Despite questions raised by critics about the story's accuracy, completeness and timing, in the days that followed the Times mounted the journalistic equivalent of a full-court press on Al Qaqaa. On October 26, the paper ran a front-page article on Kerry's quick pickup of the issue, "Iraq Explosives Become Issue In Campaign." (At that point, President Bush had not responded to the news.) That same day, Times columnist Paul Krugman charged that the administration's handling of Al Qaqaa was part of a "culture of coverups." The next day, October 27, the Times published two stories on the subject, "Kerry Attacks Bush Over Loss of Explosives," and "No Check of Bunker, Unit Commander Says." One day later, on October 28, the Times published a front-page story on Al Qaqaa, "Bush Hits Back At Kerry Charge Over Explosives," and another story, "Four Iraqis Tell of Looting At Munitions Site in '03." Columnist Maureen Dowd also mentioned Al Qaqaa in an article entitled "White House of Horrors." *** In all, in the eight days from October 25 to November 1, the Times published 16 stories and columns about Al Qaqaa, plus seven letters to the editor (all of which were critical of the Bush administration). And then, abruptly, it stopped. In the four months since the election, the Times appears to have simply dropped the Al Qaqaa story, publishing nothing about the munitions dump and the supposedly critical issues it raised about the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq. After November 1, according to a search of the Nexis database, just one story in the Times, a November 29, 2004, piece by John Burns, has contained the words "Al Qaqaa," and that story did not concern the munitions issue. *** The obvious question is whether the Times pushed the Al Qaqaa story hard in the days in which it might have an effect on the presidential election, and then let up the moment the election was over. Okrent conceded that that might appear to be the case. "I would say at the very least that the dates they were running stories certainly can leave an impression," Okrent told NRO. "But I'm not ready to convict, at least not yet." Perhaps the Times is indeed preparing an update to the Al Qaqaa story. But even if it is, the paper has let four months pass without discussing what it apparently felt was an urgent issue in the days before November 2. And that silence, too, remains unexplained.