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Fatwah / December 11, 2008
By Mark Ames

In response to Hiatt’s theory that the investigation was unreliable and probably influenced by Paris officials who didn’t want to upset Russia, Palpacuer burst out laughing: “This is beyond me, I am sorry. I work with the evidence I have before me in the investigation. But really–the Russians? Influencing this case? I don’t know what to say, it’s ridiculous. I would just say that we welcome any new evidence if anyone has it. If there is evidence of Russians influencing this investigation, I would welcome it.”

Evidence. Facts. These were not the sorts of things Hiatt’s response to me were concerned with. However, Hiatt did ask me to send along any new information about the Moskalenko case. Well, here it is–information that came with the magic of a couple of phone calls.

This leaves us where we started. Will the Post retract this piece of poorly sourced, unprofessional editorializing? Will the editorial page be held accountable by its ombudsman and others at the Post? After all, the ombudsman managed to attack the paper’s alleged “liberal bias” recently–a highly debatable position. But in this case, we have a clear example of a failure to get the facts right, and a further failure to retract those errors.

Given the Post‘s broader record over the past decade, from the war in Iraq to the conflict in South Ossetia, and Hiatt’s response to this case, it’s worth asking if the editorial page has mishandled other crucial decisions, especially those relating to Russia, as badly as it has bungled the Moskalenko story. It’s a question that needs answering.

This article appeared in the December 29, 2008 edition of The Nation. Mark Ames is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine.

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  • 1. Baked Dr. Luny  |  December 11th, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Russian agents poisoning someone with mercury? Are we really supposed to believe that someone would try to use mercury to kill someone? People used to drink the stuff for christ’s sake. I guess it would kill someone if it were injected into their bloodstream, and the vapors can be toxic, but come on. People used to practically swim in the stuff back before they knew it was dangerous and they’d go mad, but only after years of working with it. This is so ridiculous it goes beyond yellow journalism, someone’s got to have a motive for trying to bring back the red menace. Does the company that owns the Post have any defence industry holdings?

  • 2. Delfosse  |  December 12th, 2008 at 12:44 am

    Bweh, I got friends in USA who still think Russia invaded Georgia.
    If Putin had to poison somebody, I think he’d go for Post’s journalists first.

  • 3. George D  |  December 12th, 2008 at 2:19 am

    Jesus Christ. If you’re going to poison someone, as has been said above, you don’t do it with mercury. Even the Indonesians used to use something like arsenic on noisy human rights lawyers. It’s not like the Russians haven’t had 70 years of the USSR to develop good technique, and another decade or so to refine that under Putin.

    Do they think the Russians are that incompetent? Probably, being the Post. Are they racists, or just stupid? You decide.

  • 4. P2O2  |  December 12th, 2008 at 5:09 am

    Not “or”, both.

  • 5. TB003  |  December 12th, 2008 at 10:56 am

    You think this is bad, you should’ve seen Hiatt’s editorializing during the Iraq War mess. Even when he listed facts that contradicted his own beliefs, he would always conclude with something along the lines of “this proves we should not cut and run.”

    You see, facts tend to have a “liberal” bias, so Hiatt feels the need to balance it out with right-wing BS.

  • 6. Rubino  |  December 12th, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Great article. Other than, “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.”

    For there to be a new cold war, there would need to be an ideological stalemate. Russia would need a distinct ideology to oppose that of Western democratic capitalism, which it does not. In fact, it appears to have no ideology at all.

  • 7. Kavuye Toon  |  December 12th, 2008 at 11:10 am

    I’m glad you exist

  • 8. slavdude  |  December 12th, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Ah yes, reminds me of the good old days of the late Cold War and my grad school teachers at Harvard. I think the wingers are looking for a new enemy, and they are still being influenced by people who haven’t gotten over the real or perceived slights and harm they (may or may not have) received at the hands of the old Soviet Union. Why not pick on Russia, which in the mid-1990s rejected the Shock Doctrine so beloved by Republicans, Democrats, and mainstream academic economists in the United States?

  • 9. ShMiller  |  December 12th, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Keep chipping away at em’ Ames. You’ll nail someone to the wall yet for the Western media (in the general sense)’s clustfuck of an excuse for “reporting” on pretty much anything to do with Russia.

    First up Hiatt … we can only hope. Next … the Economist? Haha.

  • 10. yabadabadoo  |  December 12th, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Putin sucks ass.

  • 11. james  |  December 13th, 2008 at 4:43 am

    I’m sure the fact that he is Jewish (like 99% of the media in the US) and supported Israel’s slaughter in Lebanon has nothing to do with the fact that he hates Russia.

    And Russia during th 90’s was not economic policy gone wrong. It was specifically designed to destroy the country manufactured by George Soros and his Harvard economic goons who just happen to be Jewish also.

    In fact let’s get to the crux of the matter Communism was a Jewish invasion of Russia.

  • 12. RPG Cunthair  |  December 13th, 2008 at 9:54 am

    If his fuckin eyes get closer together he will have trouble blinking. Fucking inbred monkey.

  • 13. GO MIC!  |  December 13th, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Nothing will beat the Yellow Journalism’s coverage of the 2008 South Ossetian War. Nothing. Some quotes:

    “The Russians couldn’t sit inside a steel car, because it was hot!” (but the Russian driver could)

    “Russia’s army is poorly trained, they lost one airplane.” (Army isn’t the Air Force and 1/10,000 planes lost…yeah riiight)

    “Russia went around killing South Ossetians”

    “Putin will invade Tbilisi and take Saakashvili hostage”

    “This was will cause a rift between Russia and China”

    Sorry Ames, but like I said, nothing can beat the Military Industrial Complex’s coverage of the South Ossetian War.

  • 14. oleg  |  December 14th, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Every time I see Hiatts and Applebaums of the world write their nonsense about Russia, I get warm and fuzzy, because I know that the day it happens is the day when WaPo loses another 5-10 readers. I mean, people may be stupid but NOT THAT STUPID.
    When I feel down I just take a look at WaPo stock price, and that makes me happy and content. That thing is gonna die soon, or shrivel into complete irrelevance. There is God after all.

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