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The Washington Post Does John McCain’s Dirty Work

There’s an extraordinary story in today’s Washington Post, headlined “Paul Is Here, and the RNC Isn’t Happy.” You would think from that headline, reasonably enough, that the Post has done a story on the 10,000-strong gathering of Ron Paul supporters expected in the Target Center in Minneapolis today — 10,000 Republicans assembling to protest John McCain and take a stand against the Bush administration’s signature issues: the Iraq War, the war on civil liberties, and the inflationary economy.

But the Post story is actually something else altogether, a breathless account of — wait for it — how Ron Paul had help in writing The Revolution: A Manifesto. What a shock: a presidential candidate would have professional assistance in putting together a book.  The piece names Thomas Woods as Paul’s assistant or ghost.

If you’re the Washington Post, why is speculation about the genesis of The Revolution: A Manifesto, a book that the Post didn’t deem important enough to review, of more interest than an anti-McCain counter-convention?

But the plot thickens. Notice the reference to  “an original manuscript obtained by The Washington Post” and that “The name of the letter’s recipient was redacted.” Nice, passive language obsucring agency. Put in the active voice, the story is this: somebody who had access to a manuscript gave it to the Washington Post and removed their name from it. He or she gave it to the Post at a time calculated to damage Ron Paul and the Rally for the Republic.

You might think that a self-respecting newspaper would like to know why somebody is trying to use it to discredit John McCain’s Republican rival. I don’t blame the reporter for writing the story–but I do blame him for failing to ask why someone leaked him the document, and what agenda is behind the leak.

In the matter of how Ron Paul’s book was written, this is ultimately trivial stuff.  But we’ve seen it before in matters of life and death, war and peace, when the mainstream media refused to ask salient questions about leaks of documents and anonymous insider claims that hyped the case for war with Iraq. Who benefits and who has an interest in putting out selective information, and what agenda does the disinformation or selective information serve? Those questions lead to news that apparently isn’t fit to print.

about the author

Daniel McCarthy is editor at large of The American Conservative. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, The Spectator, The National Interest, Reason, Modern Age, and many other publications. Outside of journalism he has worked as internet communications coordinator for the Ron Paul 2008 presidential campaign and as senior editor of ISI Books. He is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, where he studied classics. Follow him on Twitter.

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