Hoge heaven

Like the powers-that-be in the CIA and the Democratic Party, their arm at the New York Times believes above all else in the war on the Bush administration. One front of that war is the war on John Bolton, to which the Times contributed Sunday with Warren Hoge’s page-one article: “Praise at home for envoy, but scorn at UN.” The story is a model of the journalism in service of an agenda that has thoroughly discredited the Times

Seeing John Bolton make the rounds of the weekly gabfests on Sunday, I thought that he has become the best spokesman of the Bush administration on foreign policy, period. When Senator Voinovich announced this past Thursday that he would support Ambassador Bolton’s confirmation as United States Ambassador to the United Nations, the New York Times might have been expected to contribute its accustomed hit in the form of a purported news story, full of anonymous sources and negative quotes. The Times is as realiable as Swiss clockwork, and Hoge’s story does not disappoint.

Hoge is the Times’s UN bureau chief; his brother James is the editor of Foreign Affairs, voice of the foreign policy establishment. John Kerry eloquently captured the Hogean Weltanschauung in an interview with the Times in the course of the 2004 campaign. Kerry confided:

I believe that if you talk with Warren Hoge or you talk to David Sanger, you talk to other people around the world, they will confirm to you, I believe, that it may well take a new president to restore America’s credibility…

(James Taranto noted at the time that “the Times itself published this statement without any denial or clarification…”) Hoge’s story is shot full of the silly “doesn’t play well with friends” school of Bolton criticism that is calculated to be grist for the Democrats’ mill. But that is the least of its flaws.

The story reads like it was written weeks ago and put on the shelf, then dusted off and updated for publicaton with a few introductory paragraphs referring to Bolton’s renomination and Voinovich’s change of heart. Hoge pursues the thesis that Bolton has “alienate[d] traditional allies” as a result of his combative leadership and unmannerly style. Hoge illustrates his thesis essentially with one tendentious anecdote larded with anonymous negative quotes. It’s a shame that Hoge chose to omit the surprising on-the-record quote from an unlikely witness that belied Hoge’s thesis, but so it goes in the world of agenda journalism.

Hoge’s story refers to America’s putative allies at the UN, and to the “allied ambassadors’ broad criticisms” of Bolton. Hoge cites a European envoy who finds Bolton “a difficult ally for his traditionally pro-American group…” At one point Hoge suggests that “more than 30 ambassadors consulted in the preparation of” his article “share the United States’ goal of changing United Nations management practices…” It’s a shame that the cloak of confidentiality shields the disclosure of the numerous allies that desire the reform of the UN that has somehow proved anathema to it. Hoge is indeed the protector of a valuable secret.

Most striking to me in Hoge’s warmed-over hit piece is its echo of the Times’s editorial disapproval of the nomination of Daniel Patrick Moynihan as America’s ambassador to the United Nations by President Ford in 1975. Moynihan had proved himself qualified for the position in the eyes of President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger by arguing that the United States should go into opposition in the UN. In its May 3, 1975 editorial on Moynihan’s nomination, the Times opined:

As Washington must have anticipated, the prospect of Mr. Moynihan at Turtle Bay has aroused among some friends of the United Nations genuine doubts about United States policy toward the world organization, and especially toward third-world countries, which [Moynihan] recently castigated in pungent language: “Shame them, hurt them, shout at them.” In short, does Washington still view the United Nations as an essential if limited arena for constructive, collective diplomacy, or–wounded by unfair criticism and a cascade of Assembly defeats through the “tyranny of the majority”–is the United States now out simply to respond in kind?

The Times’s disapproval of the American ambassador to the United Nations has migrated from its editorial columns to its news pages. It nevertheless places Ambassador Bolton in the company to which he belongs.

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