Credibility assessments, Washington Post style

The Washington Post finally moved the Blackwater story off of page 1. But perhaps that was because the Post needed material under which to bury the story of Iran’s involvement in Iraq, which it relegated to the tail end of its page 12 report on Blackwater.
The piece in question, by Sudarsan Raghaven, begins by reportting that an Iraqi government investigation into a shooting incident involving Blackwater “has concluded” that the firm’s guards fired without provocation into a Baghdad square, killing 17 people. The Post, which normally accords little or no credibility to the Iraqi government much less to its discredited Interior Ministry whose report the Iraqi government adopted, expresses no skepticism over the notion that Blackwater would mow down dozens of innocent people (17 dead, 27 injured) for no reason.
General Petraeus’s credibility is another matter. Below the report on Blackwater, Radhaven notes that Petraeus “ratcheted up his accusations that Iran was fomenting violence in Iraq.” For the Post, then, the straight-shooters in the Iraqi Interior Department “conclude,” whereas our top general in Iraq “rachets up accusations.” To underscore the point, Radhaven says that “Petraeus did not provide any evidence to back up his allegation” and that an “Iranian Embassy spokesman could not be reached for comment.” Iran’s non-responsiveness left Radhaven unable to supply a verb that would signal whether he regards the Iranian spokesman as fully credible, like the Iraqi Interior department, or suspect like General Petraeus.
Moveon.org must regard the Post as quite a bargain. Unlike with the New York Times, it didn’t have to pay the Post a penny to have it imply that General Petraeus is betraying the trust of his country.

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