The Corner

The Unbearable Resilience of Conspiracy Theories

Laura Rozen, a blogger for Politico, has an unhealthy obsession with George W. Bush and, more specifically, his Pentagon. In the past, she partnered with Robert Dreyfuss (of Lyndon LaRouche fame) to write deeply flawed exposes which confused time and personnel and often simply spouted inventions unsupported by fact or reporting; the tendency to confuse theory with reporting is one reason why L.A. Times editors said no thanks to Rozen. Now, she’s at it again for Politico.

Let’s put aside the fact that the “realist” approach to Clinton’s “Dual Containment” had failed and that the alternative to removing Saddam was letting him and his sons rebuild amidst the collapse of sanctions. Let’s also forget that the Iranian nuclear program accelerated when the Clinton administration bought into Khatami’s “Dialogue of Civilizations” mirage. Let’s also forget that, contrary to Rozen’s understanding, supporting allies matters and failure to support allies in the face of existential threats can further instability or lead to war. Let’s just look at basic reporting: Rozen gets Harold Rhode’s job wrong. I’ve got problems with Rhode — we haven’t spoken in about five years — but that doesn’t change the fact that he had nothing to do with the “Office of Special Plans.” And, indeed, it never hurts to have a gadfly in government to ask questions on the margins.

Rozen’s obsession with Rhode shows what happens when a reporter embraces a conspiracy theory hook, line, and sinker and her ego doesn’t let her consider that she got things wrong. That’s all well and good when Rozen wrote only for her personal blog; she was her own editor and simply didn’t care about accuracy. But now a failure to do basic fact-checking should embarrass not only Rozen but also her editors at Politico.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

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