Credulous Times

If you are a regular reader of the New York Times, and tend to think of it not just as a Newspaper of Record, but as an institution with unimpeachable standards of journalistic objectivity and excellence, you might want to give a gander to a scathing piece by New America’s Peter Bergen at CNN about the New York Times Magazine cover story suggesting the official story of Osama bin Laden’s assassination was a pack of trumped-up lies. Seems its author, Jonathan Mahler, is largely buying a conspiracy theory hatched by the famed muckraking journalist Seymour Hersh back in the spring, which was pretty thoroughly challenged at the time–by among others Bergen, who wrote a well-regarded book on the pursuit and killing of bin Laden.

[A]s I wrote in May when Hersh’s story first appeared, his account of the bin Laden raid is a farrago of nonsense that is contravened by a multitude of eyewitness accounts, inconvenient facts and simple common sense.

As Berger notes, both Hersh and Mahler paint a picture of US-Pakistani complicity in a handover of bin Laden followed by a deliberately fabricated “firefight” that contradicts other Times reporters who cover Pakistan and the U.S. intelligence community.

Among those sharing in the Big Lie of bin Laden’s capture and assassination if these lurid tales are true, of course, is not only the President of the United States but his most likely Democratic successor, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

One of those supposed liars would also be the woman who may well be the next president of the United States, Hillary Clinton. By the way, give her an Oscar for acting for her performance when the iconic photograph was taken at the White House as the bin Laden raid went down, the one in which Clinton has her hand over her mouth in disbelief and anxiety so uncertain was the outcome of the raid.

Hmmm. Seems like there’s another recent line of reporting at the Times that is focused on showing that Hillary Clinton’s an untrustworthy liar, eh?

I don’t know that there’s a connection, but without question, certain elements at the Times are showing some surprising credulity at any straws in the wind that can be used to build the facade of a case against Obama and Clinton.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.