The Propaganda of William Safire

"Found: A Smoking Gun," declared the headline by New York Times columnist William Safire, which claimed that a "clear link" had recently been found between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. But what did Safire base his case-closed pronouncement upon? A New York Times story that had appeared a day earlier. But the original Times story reached the opposite conclusion from Safire, stating that the recent discover not evidence of a link between al Qaeda and Ansar al-Islam. "So Safire ignored what his paper's own reporters reported," writes David Corn, "and he juggled a highly selective set of factoids to make a rather serious charge. ... This was not a first for Safire. He has often hyperbolically exclaimed, 'case closed, in discussing the supposed Al Qaeda-Iraq connection, frequently pointing to the so-called Prague connection" - even though, once again, the Times's own reporters have debunked it. "If a newspaper columnist writes articles that defy the reality reported by the paper's own correspondents, how should the paper's editors and publisher respond?" asks Corn. "Columnists are certainly entitled to their views," he writes. "They are free to speculate and suppose. ... But Safire's recent work--unburdened by factchecking, unchallenged by editors--shows he is more intent on manipulating than interpreting the available information. ... Under the cover of opinion journalism, he is dishing out disinformation. How is that of service to the readers of the New York Times?"