Saturday, December 13, 2003

The pallor of the press

With the ink not yet dry on the report of the Pentagon's investigation of Halliburton for overcharging the US on gasoline purchases, Bush demands repayment and touts that this development shows how diligently his Defense Department is monitoring the Iraq reconstruction contractors. The WaPo, supposedly a watchdog of the administration, reports the foregoing today as if it's the entire story.

But of course it isn't, and WaPo knows it. California Congressman Henry Waxman has been complaining for months about the gasoline overcharge only to be rebuffed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Reports of Waxman's claims were even published in WaPo, but no mention is made in today's story of the earlier charges and their denial.

The inference, of course, is that Bush and his cronies are dutifully minding the purse, when the opposite is true. They're pulling their hands from the cookie jar only when mommy catches them--and then claiming they were only counting the cookies.

This can be expected. But it's not expected that the press would let them come away from the report looking like auditor-heroes.