There are, of course, a limited number of slots for paid columnists at the Post, and it seemed hard to believe that the paper would hire George W. Bush’s former chief speechwriter and then hire George W. Bush’s other chief speechwriter. Fox News, maybe. But the Washington Post is supposed to have standards.
Alas, Lemieux’s report was accurate. At the bottom of a Thiessen piece yesterday, there was text explaining that he “will be writing a weekly column for The Post.”
This strikes me as noteworthy for two reasons. The first is that Thiessen is a truly awful choice. As Adam Serwer explained:
Thiessen … has spent the entirety of his post-Bush administration career attempting to defend the use of torture by his former boss. I’d have to say the highlight would be the time he argued that torturing Muslim terrorist suspects was necessary because of their religion — and since that column appeared in the Post, I’m guessing Hiatt thinks there’s something to this. Clearly, Hiatt felt that between Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol and Richard Cohen he still didn’t have the whole “I heart torture” contingent covered.
Editorial page editor Fred Hiatt said Thiessen deserves to be a paid columnist because he “makes some strong arguments” and “argues them forcefully.” And which arguments would those be? His love of torture? His insistence, two days after the president’s inauguration, that Obama is “proving to be the most dangerous man ever to occupy the Oval Office”?
I can appreciate “strong” and “forceful” voices as much as the next reader, but isn’t there something to be said for morally defensible voices who also tell the truth?
The other thing to keep in mind here is that there’s a remarkable revolving door between the mainstream media and the staff of the Bush White House.
It’s been tough to keep up with all of them, but the list is getting pretty long: Dana Perino (Fox News), Michael Gerson (Washington Post), Mary Matalin (CNN), Sara Taylor (MSNBC), Tony Snow (CNN), Frances Fragos Townsend (CNN), Nicole Wallace (CBS News), Dan Bartlett (CBS News), Jeff Ballabon (CBS News), Tony Fratto (CNBC), Juan Carlos Zarate (CBS News), Karl Rove (Fox News, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal), and now Thiessen.
The revolving door is so intense, NBC News hired one of the former president’s daughters, despite her not having any background in journalism at all.
Given the previous administrations’ spectacular failures, it’s tempting to think these former officials would stay out of the public eye. After all, haven’t they done enough damage to the country already? Do we need to be reminded of their comical ineptitude while trying to keep up on current events?
Remember, conservatives are convinced that major news outlets were not only deliberately unfair to the Bush administration, but also hate conservatives. The media outlets presumably, then, keep hiring leading Bush administration officials as part of an elaborate ruse to throw us off their liberal trail.
The end of the Bush/Cheney era, alas, does not mean the end of loyal Bushies misleading the country. If there’s a rational explanation for these bizarre media decisions, I’d love to hear it.