FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Martin Peretz to Bush

The New Republic, the 89 year-old “liberal” journal of politics and the arts, has shifted its editorial stance recently by publishing stories that supports a war with Iraq and criticizes the Democratic party for its weakness, according to a story in Wednesday’s New York Observer.

Moreover, the weekly magazine will unveil a new redesign with the publication of Friday’s issue. But putting the magazine through a makeover is a cheap way to conceal from its subscribers Editor-in-Chief and co-owner Martin Peretz’s personal stance on Iraq. In a recent press release, The New Republic says its coverage as of late represents “several daring political stances” on issues such as the U.S. going to war with Iraq without the support of the United Nations.

This is misleading. The only thing that’s daring about the “new” New Republic is how Peretz is fooling readers of the magazine into believing that The New Republic’s editorial stance does not represent the personal politics of its editors. Many of The New Republic’s readers are unaware that Peretz, along with several other journalists and right-wing lawmakers, lobbied President Bush nine days after the September 11 terrorist attacks to start a war with Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power, claiming that Iraq may be linked to the attacks, an allegation that the Bush Administration has made many times without a shred of evidence to back it up.

“We agree with Secretary of State Powell’s recent statement that Saddam Hussein “is one of the leading terrorists on the face of the Earth,” the letter says. “It may be that the Iraqi government provided assistance in some form to the recent attack on the United States. But even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism. The United States must therefore provide full military and financial support to the Iraqi opposition. American military force should be used to provide a “safe zone” in Iraq from which the opposition can operate. And American forces must be prepared to back up our commitment to the Iraqi opposition by all necessary means,” says the letter.

What’s most troubling about the letter to Bush is that it was written by The Project for the New American Century, a right-wing think tank that has been instrumental in advising Bush what America’s foreign policy should look like. It’s founder and chairman is William Kristol, editor of the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard, and its former members have included Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Kristol also signed the letter to Bush. It can be viewed at http://www.newamericancentury.org/Bushletter.htm

Peretz has been the top editor at The New Republic since 1974 and was co-founder with CNBC pundit and former hedge fund guru James Kramer of The Street.com. Peretz was former Vice President Al Gore’s professor at Harvard and helped Gore on his initial run for Congress and the Senate and was also instrumental in Gore’s run for the presidency.

Peretz said in an interview that “there are other editors around here” and that his personal views on Iraq are not represented in the pages of The New Republic. He said the magazine’s views on foreign policy have been consistent for 25 years.

“We were for the last Gulf War and for aid to the Contras,” Peretz said. Comparing The New Republic to its close competitor The Nation, Peretz said, “Whatever The Nation was for we were against. Whatever The Nation was against we were for. The only thing we share was we were rather soft on Stalin in the late 1930s.”

Still, when journalists become personally involved in the issues they cover there is no way readers can be sure they are getting their news delivered accurately. Being an opinion-oriented publication doesn’t excuse that. Look at how New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman and Wall Street Journal opinion columnist Peggy Noonan were attacked by the media when they wrote critically about the financial machinations of Enron Corporation and how it was later revealed that both were paid speechwriters and consultants for the company. Krugman wasn’t even writing for The New York Times or any other publication when Enron hired him and he was still taken to task. Business journalists, as a general rule, aren’t allowed to own stock in company’s they write about because their coverage could be deemed bias. The ‘s reporters are the exception, but the online publication still requires its reporters to disclose to readers whether they own stock in the companies they write about. Peretz should be held to the same principles. If he were to simply disclose to The New Republic’s subscribers that he offered the President some advice about his views on how the Administration should deal with Iraq at least his subscribers could decide whether The New Republic is still worth reading.

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, senior scholar of the University of Southern California’s school of Policy, Planning and Development and an expert on the media, said she doesn’t believe journalists should get involved in activism, but if they do it should be disclosed to the reader.

” I know journalists who walked in abortion rights marches, but that’s not something I would do,” Jeffe said. “It’s an individual decision. A reporter or editor may believe they can still be objective despite it. I would expect a journalist who does that should write a letter to his or her readers and let readers judge. It’s a more honest way to handle it”.

I subscribe to The New Republic. While researching a story I wrote this week about how Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz wrote a letter to President Clinton in 1998 urging Clinton to start a war with Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power, I came across another the letter that Peretz and others wrote to Bush after 9-11. I felt cheated and betrayed. I was lead to believe that the magazine I read every week was providing me with its point of view, not Peretz’s. I haven’t decided yet whether to cancel my subscription.

JASON LEOPOLD can be reached at: jasonleopold@hotmail.com

 

More articles by:

JASON LEOPOLD is the former Los Angeles bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires where he spent two years covering the energy crisis and the Enron bankruptcy. He just finished writing a book about the crisis, due out in December through Rowman & Littlefield. He can be reached at: jasonleopold@hotmail.com

July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS class struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail