Posted at 1:30 PM on May 3, 2007
by Andrew Haeg
My vote: Walcott, Landay and Strobel, the journalistic team that was almost all alone in questioning the evidence the administration presented (and many others on both sides of the aisle accepted) for going to war in Iraq.
They were about the only journalists to emerge with their reputations intact from Bill Moyers' special the other night called "Buying the War."
From the aluminum tubes, to Colin Powell's stunningly flawed testimony to the United Nations, Knight Ridder's John Walcott, Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel were the only ones who managed to keep their journalistic heads about them as the rest of the Beltway press corps joined in to rally around the flag.
They went about their jobs like journalists should, expending shoe leather, working mid-level contacts they'd known for years, and getting shoulder deep in documents, many of which were available to anyone who cared to look, online, and asking tough questions of themselves, the data and their sources. But, as we now know, since their stories weren't on the front page of the New York Times or Washington Post, few people paid much attention to their reporting. Too bad.
One quote from Landay that struck me (regarding the administration's claims that Saddam had reconstituted his WMD program): "I have to admit that until we really started burrowing into the story-- that I believed it, too."
Sounds almost heroic now--seeing that Landay et. al. were out on a limb as the "elite" Washington press corps became conduits for flawed data, false conclusions and sources with an agenda. But isn't burrowing into a story, like, a journalist's main job?
There's a huge amount to learn from Walcott, Landay and Strobel--prime among them is the courage to think for yourself, no matter what the popular crowd is doing.