Skipping Embarrassing Parts of Capitol Anti-War Gathering
Scott Shane respectfully covers a left-wing anti-war gathering in a Capitol Hill basement in Friday's "Antiwar Group Says Leaked White House Memo Shows Bush Misled Public on His War Plans." The story's text box speaks truth to power: "As the White House dismisses accusations about its behavior, loud calls for answers." But his story skips over some of the inconveniently nutty aspects of the gathering.
Shane opens today's story: "Opponents of the war in Iraq held an unofficial hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday to draw attention to a leaked British government document that they say proves their case that President Bush misled the public about his war plans in 2002 and distorted intelligence to support his policy. In a jammed room in the basement of the Capitol, Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, presided as witnesses asserted that the 'Downing Street memo' - minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top security officials - vindicated their view that Mr. Bush made the decision to topple Saddam Hussein long before he has admitted. 'Thanks to the Downing Street minutes, we now know the truth,' said Ray McGovern, a C.I.A. analyst for 27 years who helped organize a group of other retired intelligence officers to oppose the war."
Shane ignored some of McGovern's outlandish comments  as a member of that group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. In April 2003, McGovern suggested to Agence France Presse that the United States would plant WMD if they failed to find it: "Some of my colleagues are virtually certain that there will be some weapons of mass destruction found, even though they might have to be planted."
In an interesting contrast, the Washington Post's liberal reporter Dana Milbank treats the left-wing sideshow with considerably less respect: "In the Capitol basement yesterday, long-suffering House Democrats took a trip to the land of make-believe." Milbank plays up the fact that the actual "memo" was only a convenient excuse for the anti-war hearing and includes unflattering details from the unofficial hearing: "The session took an awkward turn when witness Ray McGovern, a former intelligence analyst, declared that the United States went to war in Iraq for oil, Israel and military bases craved by administration 'neocons' so 'the United States and Israel could dominate that part of the world.' He said that Israel should not be considered an ally and that Bush was doing the bidding of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. 'Israel is not allowed to be brought up in polite conversation,' McGovern said. 'The last time I did this, the previous director of Central Intelligence called me anti-Semitic.'"
Milbank brings out the paranoid flavor of the gathering: "At Democratic headquarters, where an overflow crowd watched the hearing on television, activists handed out documents repeating two accusations - that an Israeli company had warning of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and that there was an 'insider trading scam' on 9/11 - that previously has been used to suggest Israel was behind the attacks."
There was another noteworthy omission by the Times. Reporter Scott Shane didn't even mention the inconvenient presence on the four-person panel of discredited anti-war voice Joe  Wilson , whose wife, Valerie Plame, suggested he be sent to Niger to investigate possible uranium purchases by Saddam Hussein. Wilson had said she had not played a role. In addition, the Senate found Wilson's report from Niger actually bolstered the case that Hussein had sought uranium from Niger, though Wilson claimed his trip should have buried that idea and accused Bush of ignoring his findings in a rush to war.
For the full Shane report, click here: 
Times Cranks up the Reliable "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy"
"Conservatives Promoting Anti-Clinton Book" reads the headline to Raymond Hernandez's article on a new Hillary Clinton biography, "The Truth About Hillary," by former NYT Magazine editor Edward Klein.
As if conservatives promoting an anti-Clinton book should come as a surprise. In fact, what's truly surprising is how many conservatives are shunning Klein's book, based on the inflammatory  excerpt  posted at the Drudge report. But Hernandez ignores that actual story in favor of setting up a vast right-wing anti-Hillary conspiracy.
Hernandez, who covers the Hillary beat with a soft  touch , portrays Hillary as under assault: "Republican and conservative activists are behind a vigorous campaign to promote a controversial new biography about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, with some even suggesting that the book will help dash any presidential aspirations she might have. The prospect that Mrs. Clinton, who is up for re-election next year, may run for the presidency in 2008, has re-energized her opponents, who are seizing on the book, 'The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President,' as it is to be released next week"
The conspiracy unfolds: "In addition, the financing for a conservative Web site that is promoting the book comes partly from Richard Mellon Scaife, a longtime foe of the Clintons who tapped his fortune in the 1990's to finance a project at The American Spectator magazine to dig up damaging information about the couple.'It has all the feel of a ginned-up right-wing effort to smear anybody who is seen by the right as politically threatening,' said David Brock, a former right-wing journalist who has become a critic of conservatives."
National Review Online editor K. J. Lopez questions  the Times' conspiracy-mongering: "Contrary to popular (Hillary's & the New York Times) belief, we're not all foaming-at-the-mouth Clinton haters, desperately hunting for anything that'll make either one of them look bad." Lopez sarcastically adds: "Memo to NYTimes: Richard Mellon Scaife actually wrote this post for me."
Over at Slate, Kaus eviscerates the story: "Hernandez breathlessly reveals that 'Republican and conservative activists are behind a vigorous campaign to promote a controversial new biography about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.' Apparently it's advertised on a Web site that once got some money from Richard Mellon Scaife! The real story-too subtle for a paper that has to dispatch a correspondent to cover conservatives the way they'd send a foreign correspondent to India-is that the right-wing reception of the new Hillary book has been wary and remarkably hostile."
Kaus sees the Times playing to its liberal audience: "This is a classic Pinch-era NYT story in that it unabashedly assumes its readers are near-cliched New York City liberals. If you weren't ready to be scared and shocked by the latest right-wing outrage, this story would simply make no sense to you: People who are against Hillary are behind a book against Hillary! ....Except in this case maybe they're not.Printing the predictable story your readers expect to read instead of the intriguing story that's really out there is more or less the definition of 'hack,' no?"
For the rest of Hernandez on Hillary, click here: