Media Blog

Waas Watching

Washington City Paper has just posted a long profile of National Journal’s Murray Waas, the reporter whose “scoops” on the Valerie Plame affair routinely provided fodder for left-wing-blogger conspiracy theories. The profile stirred controversy before it even came out when Waas publicly complained that reporters treated him unfairly. It’s no wonder that Waas was upset. The profile’s authors report that key aspects of many Waas articles can’t be confirmed by anyone, including some of DC’s top investigative reporters. For instance:

Buried deep in the series, however, was perhaps its most explosive allegation—that South Africa in 1982 “was able to obtain a sizeable secret interest in the Washington Times.” In the piece, Waas suggests that the arrangement is so secret that it could never be verified. […] 
In 1985, Waas published the same allegations in the National Reporter, another obscure outlet.
The allegations got the attention of the Washington Post. Jim Hoagland, a South Africa expert who served as the paper’s top foreign editor at the time of Waas’ stories, dispatched staffer Michael Isikoff to look into the piece and possibly write a follow-up in the Post.
Isikoff (now at Newsweek) met with Waas to vet the sourcing behind the funding claims. After spending “a lot of time” with Waas on the matter, Isikoff moved on to other projects. “I couldn’t confirm any aspect of it,” says Isikoff.

As for Waas’s Plame reporting, the profile’s authors write, “a close look at Waas’ reporting yields few giant things. In fact, his stories often feature lame “revelations” surrounded by a great deal of rehashed reporting.”

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