The Washington Post's editors never tire of basking in the faded glory of Watergate, a scandal that occurred nearly four decades ago. Some outsiders also still call the Post "liberal." But the reality is quite different as the Post routinely takes neocon stances and has become a scandal onto itself.
Though there are still a few liberal voices, like Eugene Robinson, the Post's opinion sections are dominated by neoconservatives and right-wingers who pile up mountains of misinformation that then shapes the potent conventional wisdom of the nation's capital.
The fact that there is no viable counter-pressure to what the Post does in Washington, where two other dailies are even more right-wing, goes a long way toward explaining why the Obama administration has found the struggle for any meaningful change such an uphill climb.
Take, for instance, the Tuesday op-ed page. You have two articles, attacking Democrats on health-care reform, one by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and the other by Post editorial writer Charles Lane. If you look down a little further, there's a column by Richard Cohen, labeling as a racist pretty much anyone who is alarmed at Israel's mistreatment of Palestinians.
Israel "is not motivated by racism," Cohen declares. "That's more than can be said for many of its critics."
Cohen is especially outraged by anyone who would compare the plight of Palestinians in and around Israel to South African blacks under "apartheid." Yet, while the parallel is far from perfect, many friendly critics of Israel have grown increasingly alarmed at Zionist extremists seizing Palestinian lands on the basis of Biblical mandates in which God supposedly grants all the territory to the Israelites.
Even thoughtful Israelis are beginning to grapple with this moral and political dilemma. For instance, Defense Minister Ehud Barak has argued that serious efforts must be made now for a two-state solution because otherwise the Zionist vision of a Greater Israel could lead to either a single state with a Palestinian majority or special rules to limit Palestinian civil rights.
"If, and as long as between the Jordan and the sea, there is only one political entity, named Israel, it will end up being either non-Jewish or non-democratic," Barak said at a recent security conference. "If the Palestinians vote in elections, it is a bi-national state, and if they don't, it is an apartheid state."
Yet, on the Washington Post's op-ed page, this serious question of Israel's slide toward either an endless military occupation of Palestinian lands or an apartheid-style government can only be demonized.
Racists and Anti-Semites
To the Post's Cohen, whose column ignored Barak's apartheid comment, you are a racist if you suggest that some form of apartheid looms in Israel's future if it refuses to allow a viable Palestinian state on the West Bank and insists on the Zionist vision of a Greater Israel ordained by God.
Cohen scolds Henry Siegman, who wrote an op-ed for the Financial Times and mentioned the word apartheid several times in an article. Noting that Siegman was a former executive director of the American Jewish Congress, Cohen conceded that "anti-Semitism is not the issue here."
Cohen then added, however, "anti-Semitism is not so easily dismissed with others."
In other words, any non-Jew who dares echo the words of Defense Minister Barak stands pre-judged as a racist anti-Semite. [For more on Cohen, see Consortiumnews.com's "Is WP's Cohen the Dumbest Columnist?"]
As ugly and anti-intellectual as Cohen's article was, it fits neatly within the attitudes of the Post's editorialists and contributors who also spew out disinformation and one-sided arguments on a wide variety of other topics.