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The Economist: The farce continues

No doubt I will be attacked (again) for writing critically about this ‘free market’, ‘pro-American’ journal. However, I will proceed.

The Economist magazine (or newspaper, as it chooses to describe itself) last week had a weird racialist rant against Secretary of State Rice. A whole page devoted to claiming (amongst other things) that Condi Rice went along with the evil Bush on Iraq (that the Economist supported the judgement to go into Iraq was somehow forgotten) because she was black and,. therefore, had learned that the way to get ahead was to conform to the will of powerful white men (Rice as Aunt Thomisina?).

There was also a claim that Secretary of State Rice was a poor administrator who ran the State Department badly – this claim rather pleased me, as it can only have come from State Department staff and anyone who is unpopular with the death-to-America fanatics who have tried to dominate Foggy Bottom for decades can not be all bad.

This week the Economist ran a little article on the trial of Lewis Libby. The article claimed that the defence of Mr Libby (against the claim that he obstructed justice in the inquiry into the exposure of CIA agent – the fact that the person was a CIA staff member, not a secret agent, was of course not mentioned in the article) would be that it was all Karl Rove’s fault. But (the Economist article explained) the guilt of Mr Rove does not mean that Mr Libby is innocent.

In fact the ‘exposure’ of the CIA ‘agent’ was nothing to do with Mr Libby or Mr Rove – the person responsible was Richard Armitage.This is common knowledge and Mr Armitage has himself has admitted it.

The whole thing goes back to the effort of the husband of the CIA employee (an ex-State Department person and donor to the 2000 Gore and 2004 Kerry campaign) to discredit American and British claims about Saddam Hussian efforts to buy materials for his atomic weapons program, specifically from the nation of Niger. Elements in the State Department and the CIA opposed British and American policy on Iraq and so tried to discredit the claims made in support of that policy. Richard Armitage, then working for Secretary of State Colin Powell, tried to fight back by pointing out to the media that the supposedly independent people attacking the Administration were part of these factions in the State Department and the CIA who had an agenda of their own. All perfectly normal in the cat fight that is politics.

I am no expert in these matters, but my understanding is that Saddam was after such material. But the Economist article did not cover any of the basic matters – or even that it was Richard Armitage (not Mr Libby or Mr Rove) who ‘leaked’ the fact that the ex Ambassador’s wife was part of a certain faction at the CIA.

All the Economist was concerned with was the ‘lies’ of Mr Libby and Mr Rove. The fact that, whether or not there should be a court case, the whole thing is directed at the wrong person, Mr Libby not being Mr Armitage, escaped them.

In fact the prosecutor involved is politically motivated (no surprise there, we are dealing with the United States after all) and has attacked Mr Libby in order to attack the Vice President and, through him, the President. The jury is of course stacked with Iraq war critics. I did not think highly of the judgement to go to war myself – but I do not like political show trials either.

As for the Economist’s level of knowledge: It was as if an American journal had run an article about British politics and had talked of ‘Prime Minister Cameron’ and ‘Queen Diana’.

I do not know where the Economist gets its staff from (some ‘school of journalism’ perhaps), but I rather resent that they get paid money for writing about things they know nothing about.

Still, as I am careful never to pay for reading bits of the Economist, at least they are not spending my money.

12 comments to The Economist: The farce continues

  • lucklucky

    The Economist is not what it once was. It gets the journalists from the same poll of the others.
    Identity is lost.

  • samson

    It’s been left-wing for a long time. I remember the Young Scot. Nats were quite fond of it back about 20 years ago.

  • GF

    Since when was respecting the right to secede left-wing?

  • I’ve written on here before about how the Economist has gone downhill in the 5 years I’be been subscribing, and most people agree it was on the slide some time before that.

    I got the impression after it supported the Iraq war it lost the confidence of a lot of readers and has flipped and flopped on that issue without actually saying it was wrong, and printed a lot of nonsense trying to get those readers’ confidence back. An article a month or so back on Sudan mentioned that the west should do a lot more, but was oddly quiet on what the Chinese should do. A few weeks back there was an article which can be summed up as “Jews should take a long hard look at themselves because by supporting Israel it is making people hate you”. Or something. It was piffle. They also had fun laying into the UKIP, many of whose policies you would have thought a liberal paper like the Economist would have supported over those of the Tories.

    The Economist has got 1 more year of my subscription to improve before I’m pulling the plug.

  • Phil A

    It wasn’t too bad in the early 70s…

    Still vote with your feet I say. Let someone who dosn’t know any better pay their wages.

  • Vaz Lube

    So, what are the alternatives to The Economist, do you suggest?

    I suppose that obtaining a WiFi enabled ultra portable notebook would be one option to read on-line in bed…

  • Millie Woods

    The Economist has like most of the civil service, politicians and the MSM in general fallen far and fast thanlks to BIC (boomers in charge) syndrome. Perhaps I should qualify that by adding that it is not boomers in general that are wanting in the ability to fact check but those who gravitate to the unproductive areas of the economy. Knowing nothing but believing that one knows it all combined with a job where one produces nothing of lasting value or benefit is a lethal and worrisome combination.

  • Andy

    The Economist as a part of the “drive-by-media”? What is the world coming to?

  • No doubt I will be attacked (again) for writing critically about this ‘free market’, ‘pro-American’ journal

    Go ahead, I may disagree, but I defend your right to say it (naturally), attacks for that are wrong, discussion of why you’re mistaken is great .

    I see a lot of people lamenting the loss of the ‘good old days’ perhaps you’re all getting old ;)

    I find the Economist to be the best liberal publication out there, informative, they try to get things right far more than other newspapers.
    Of course its not perfect, but even Samizdata isn’t perfect ;)

  • Paul Marks

    Well, in a way, the “Economist” is “liberal” in the modern American sense of supporting more money for the “public services” and supporting things like the E.U. and the U.N.

    However, it is not liberal in the, early to mid 19th century British sense, sense of supporting smaller government.

    Certainly it is against farm subsidies (although it is also against “tax subsidies” – i.e it is in favour of HIGHER TAXES for home owners and others), but it is always demanding more money for health, education and welfare (and demanding “antitrust” laws and other such absurd regulations, based on its false neo classical conception of the market).

    As for “getting old” – guilty as charged in my case.

    However, to me the golden age of the Economist was before Walter Baghot (spelling) took over (and I was not around back then).

    On the good side:

    The Economist does often provide accurate information.

    For example, a few weeks ago it listed a lot of the failings of the various State government health schemes in the United States.

    True it then said such schemes should be expanded (and get even more support from the Federal taxpayer), but the information provided by the article would have led many readers to the opposite conclusion.

    That is often the way with Economist articles. The conclusions (on “the public services” or the U.N., or the E.U., or on “competition policy” or on …………) are normally wrong (indeed the reverse of what should be done) – but information provided in the articles is generally correct (it is almost as if the information in the articles and the conclusions in the articles are provided by different people).

    That is why (to be fair) the Economist is not really “liberal” in the modern American sense.

    A truly “liberal” publication (such as the New York Times) will be full of false information.

    For example, the New York Times recently said that President Bush’s plan to not tax income (up to a certain figure) that was used to pay for health cover would not help non income tax payers.

    This was a lie – as the plan is to not apply Social Security tax (the pay roll tax) to such income either.

    A newspaper like the New York Times is full of information that is false (and that they know to be false – i.e. lies). Whereas the Economist is not so.

  • The U.S. State Department is only part of the U.S. government when a Democrat is in the Oval Office. Otherwise, it’s just a continuation of Democrat foreign policy, by other means.

  • R. Miller

    You’ve got the facts exactly right.

    Joe Wilson is an egotistical narcissist. He embarked on his fact finding tour, met with some old friends and sipped mint tea. When they told him exactly what he wanted to hear, he left. He didn’t question either their access to information about uranium purchases or the veracity of their statements.

    Wilson never filed a written report and he believed that, on his word alone, the matter had been settled. He also believed that the President and Cheney had been apprised of his findings. But his information (as thin as it was) was only one piece of the puzzle. Other US, British, Russian, and Israeli intelligence sources confirmed and hold to this day that Iraq was attempting to purchase uranium from Niger.

    When Wilson published an anonymous Op-Ed the media and the White House was in a frenzy to find out who it was and to refute the information. No one questions the frequent use of “anonymous” or “unnamed” officials by the New York Times.

    Despite his claims, Wilson and Plame were well-known on the DC cocktail party circuit and everyone knew who she worked for.

    BTW, when I applied for a job with the CIA, it was Valerie Plame who interviewed me and took me to lunch in the cafeteria. I didn’t realize that until after this story broke years later. That job was in Weapons Nonproliferation (WINPAC) in the Directorate of Intelligence, NOT the Directorate of Operations where all the “spooks” are. She most certainly wasn’t a covert agent in 2000 when I met her.

    And using your maiden name is a pretty stupid non-official cover!

    The whole debate about WMD in Iraq is a red herring. The burden to prove the weapons were destroyed was on IRAQ. He had hundreds of tons of WMD catalogued by the UN and he provided little proof of its destruction. In fact, the reduction of nerve agent creates a dangerous chemical called hydrolysate which can easily be converted back into nerve agent. Saddam never showed any hydrolysate to the UN inspectors. In fact, Iraq did not even possess the capability to reduce that much nerve agent. Our advanced facility on Johnson Atoll took years to safely eliminate our stockpiles.

    The most disturbing question is the 180 degree turnaround of Scott Ritter who quit UNSCOM because it wasn’t doing enough, but then proclaimed Iraq had destroyed its WMD years earlier. Where did he come about this new information?

    I’ll wager that the WMD are exactly where they came from: Russia. Russia supplied the materials, shares a border with Iraq, and has the experience, equipment, and facilities to transport and store WMD. They also had deals with Saddam for oil production which would have commenced as soon as sanctions were lifted.

    Think about this: If Saddam had, in fact, been in compliance with UNSC resolutions against WMD and supporting terrorism, then sanctions would have been lifted in 2003 and he would still be in charge of Iraq. The US did not “rush” to war. Saddam was “rushing” to get sanctions lifted. Bush and Blair recognized that the fix was in with Russia, France, and Kofi Annan and they took action to stop the crime.