The spirit of Walter Duranty

Yesterday’s big New York Times page-one takedown of President Bush was “Huge cache of explosives vanished from site in Iraq.” Today the Times reports “Iraq explosive become issue in campaign.” On day one the Times publishes the story; on day two the Times notes the injection of the issue raised by the story into the campaign. This is how it works in the great tradition of the New York Times.
There appears to be another tradition at work here, however, and it is one that we have followed assiduously over the past two years. One has to read rather far into today’s Times account to find this discordant note:

On Monday evening, Nicolle Devenish, the spokeswoman for the Bush campaign, noted a section of the Times report indicating that American troops, on the way to Baghdad in April 2003, stopped at the Al Qaqaa complex and saw no evidence of high explosives. Noting that the cache may have been looted before the American invasion, she said Mr. Kerry had exaggerated the administration’s responsibility.
“John Kerry presumes to know something that he could not know: when the material disappeared,” Ms. Devenish said. “Since he does not know whether it was gone before the war began, he can’t prove it was there to be secured.”

Last night NBC took the wind out of the sails of the Times story by reporting that the explosives were missing at the time that US forces arrived at the ammunition dump during the war. The Times fails to note the NBC story, but CNN has a good account: “Report: Explosive already gone when US troops arrived.”
Wretchard puts yesterday’s Times story in the larger context of the war: “That missing RDX.” Roger Simon, on the other hand, puts it in the larger context of frauds perpetrated by the New York Times: “How Duranty happened.”
DEACON adds: The Wretchard piece captures the real story here, and it doesn’t favor John Kerry. Hugh Hewitt explains why: The explosives were gone by the time we arrived because we wasted months trying to persuade countries like France to support our military action. Kerry’s position is that he voted for military action only so that the president could engage in this lengthy dance. He also says we should have danced longer, giving Saddam the opportunity to move more weapons. In Wretchard’s words, “The price of passing ‘the Global Test’ was very high; and having been gypped once, there are some who are still eager to be taken to the cleaners again.”

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