Where does the Times

“Where does the Timesconfession leave its outright defenders, like Marshall and John Judis?” asks Mickey Kaus. Honestly? I’d say it leaves Judis and me with more self-respect than the news page editors at the Times.

It’s always irksome to lean in to defend someone who’s wrongly accused, only to see them buckle and beg forgiveness because they can’t stand the heat. But that’s precisely what’s happened here. Say what you want about the Times, or anti-regime change bias, whatever. The Tyler/Purdum article’s characterization of Kissinger was right on target. I’ve explained why several times already so I won’t do it again here. (For a really good explanation see this new article by John Judis.)

In fact, see how Fox News of all places reported Kissinger’s OpEd just a couple days after it ran — that is, before the conservative party line got drawn up. They reported it just the same way as the Times did.

Even the Times’ mea culpa has a touch of comedy in it since the editors seem to strain to find something to apologize for. The key passage reads like one of those loopy show trial moments when the victim has utterly given up the fight, can’t wait to admit to something, but can’t quite figure out what to confess to. So he looks inquiringly at his accuser for some hint or lead as to what crime he’s supposed to cop to. It’s about as uplifting as watching a black-eyed wife tearfully apologize to her husband after he beats her up.

Times critics can jump up and down like monkeys because of their victory. And it is a victory: the Times caved. (They now refuse to report even the fact that Kissinger supports the inspectors-first approach.) But that doesn’t alter the essential dishonesty of the attack. Kissinger dissents from key aspects of White House policy like inspections and he’s a supporter of White House policy. Powell dissents on the same grounds but he’s a dissenter who should be sent packing.

Kissinger’s critique was different from Scowcroft’s. But then Tyler and Purdum said it was different. But it turns out, says the Times mea culpa, they “should have made a clearer distinction between [Kissinger’s] views and those of Mr. Scowcroft.” Tyler and Purdum’s error apparently was insufficient special-pleading on behalf of the neo-conservatives and warhawks.

The issue here of course isn’t Kissinger. Who cares what Kissinger thinks about Iraq? But who knew it would be so easy for a few conservative columnists and their yahoos-in-waiting to bitch-slap the Times into saying that up is down or humiliate two good reporters who zigged when the neos were demanding a zag?