Washington Post death spiral – Scott Wilson plays stenographer for Republican talking points, again

In a post from several days ago, I noted a piece from Scott Wilson in the WP which uncriticallyrepeated current Republican talking points.  He’s done it again.

In today’s contribution, Wilson’s third paragraph is entirely representative:

Gibbs’s comments reflected the administration’s pique over Cheney’s wide-ranging remarks made Sunday on CNN, his first televised interview since leaving office.

The interview (and it is the second such by Cheney since leaving office) which contained nothing but 1) criticisms of Obama policies 2) an entirely defensive stance on his own administration’s policies and decisions, and 3) a repetion of the deceits and fear mongering he and his administration used to push America into the Iraq war is described by Wilson as “far ranging”.

But what Cheney is doing in both of these interviews is unprecedented.  Normally, out-going administrations properly drop the political aggressiveness of their period in power and quietly defer to the new administration, holding off public criticism for, usually, years.  Not Cheney (nor Fleischer nor Matalin).  Mere weeks and they are into attack mode.  But none of this gains mention from Wilson.

Nor do we see any note from him on The Bush Legacy Project, which the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes noted on CNN had been running out of the WH for some six months prior to the end of the Bush administration which had the purpose of polishing the Bush administration’s record.  As I’ve written before, this propaganda strategy has three fundamental prongs: deny any policy mistakes, forward positive talking points (most notably, “Bush kept us safe”) and finally, derogate the Obama administration in a manner which tries to paint it as either a continuation of Bush (nothing special about Obama) or as worse than Bush (dangerous liberal/socialist).  You’d think maybe Wilson would address this relevant matter but he chooses to leave it entirely unmentioned.  In fact, what he does do is to quote an unnamed Cheney advisor’s denial that this might be related:

“We’ve not coordinated our appearances with the Bush folks,” the adviser said.

Right.  And the very next paragraph of Wilson’s piece goes on to quote Mary Matalin saying:

There is no strategy [by Cheney] to reenter the national political dialogue

Even while the prior paragraph to the advisor’s claim has the directly contradictory statement:

A Cheney adviser said the former vice president decided to accept the CNN invitation because he respects John King, host of the cable channel’s “State of the Union” talk show, and wanted to offer his “real concerns” about Obama’s economic and national security policies.

And a bit futher on:

Matalin said Cheney decided to speak now “to the extent that the more these policies add up, the more his concern grows.”

But Wilson does find reason to forward (as he did in the prior piece) this Republican talking point designed to paint Obama as failing to fulfill a fundamental promise of his campaign:

The back-and-forth represented a political opportunity for the Obama administration, despite its pledges to avoid partisan confrontation.

Increasingly, as many others have noted for a long while now, the WP has slid over into a deeply degraded version of the paper it used to be.  It has become, in far too large a part, a propagandist outlet.  Wilson’s reporting, at least in his last two showings, has functioned precisely as that.


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