The new McCarthyism

By EDITORIAL  |  April 26, 2006

Once again, the supposedly fearsome and adversarial national press corps did a piss-poor job with the story. It’s true that McCarthy declined any comment. But even a cursory glance at Priest’s well-sourced story would have revealed that she relied on multiple, perhaps even dozens of, sources. But the Bushies accomplished their goal. They constructed a false reality that McCarthy was the one responsible for Priest’s devastating scoop.

The lies of the Bush administration are legion. And these people will stop at little to silence their critics and to intimidate those who are even thinking about going public with criticism. That’s what this latest bout of McCarthyism is all about: intimidating whistle blowers and scaring the press away from printing their stories.

That said, McCarthy’s role — real, imagined, or concocted — is almost beside the point.

As Senator Kerry, drawing a parallel between McCarthy’s situation and the Plame case, said: “You have someone being fired from the CIA for allegedly telling the truth, and you have no one fired from the White House for revealing a CIA agent in order to support a lie. That’s what’s really wrong in Washington.”

Is it possible that McCarthy, despite her denials through second-party spokespeople, is in some way involved in the Priest revelations? With all due respect to McCarthy, we’re sad to say that, this being Washington, anything is possible.

Could McCarthy be guilty of little more than consorting with the press? That, too, is possible.

What is most likely is that the Bush administration stage-managed a charade, the details of which will become apparent in the coming weeks or months.

Whoever leaked to the Post, the Times, the New Yorker, and other outlets determined enough to report the truth deserves this nation’s unrestrained gratitude.

When Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon papers, he revealed the lies with which the Johnson administration prosecuted the Vietnam War. The Nixon administration, which had its own lies to worry about, tried but failed to put him in jail.

Those who blow the whistle during the Bush administration may not be so lucky. And this time, there is no reason to believe that those who do the leaking will be the only ones to face imprisonment. The press is the next logical target. Bush will stop at nothing, unless the nation makes it clear that it won’t tolerate him. But so great is this man’s arrogance that he seems unrestrained by the latest polls, which show that only 32 percent of the nation endorses his rule while 60 percent disapproves of it.

McCarthy was yesterday’s target. Who will be tomorrow’s?
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