Monday, March 07, 2005

What ever happened to The Most Important Story on Earth?

The "blockbuster story" of the closing days of the presidential campaign dropped completely off the radar immediately after Bush won. Jonah Goldberg asks: What ever happened to The Most Important Story on Earth?:
"Remember al-Qaqaa? This was the massive cache of explosives that American forces failed to secure after the fall of Saddam. In the final week of the presidential campaign it was The Most Important Story on Earth.

The New York Times splashed the news on its front page and didn't stop splashing it for a week. In all, the Times ran 16 stories and columns about al-Qaqaa, plus seven anti-Bush letters to the editor on the subject over an eight-day period. Editorial boards across the country hammered the 'outrage' for days. It led all the news broadcasts. It became the central talking point of the Kerry campaign, with John Kerry bellowing his indignation at the administration's incompetence at every stump stop. Maureen Dowd wrote a column about it, titled 'White House of Horrors.'"
Jonah reviews the details of the story and the way it was reported at the time. Then:
"So, anyway, I'd forgotten about all this. Bush won the election despite the al-Qaqaa drumbeat from Kerry and his surrogates in and out of the press.

But Byron York, my colleague at National Review, didn't forget. He wondered, whatever happened to The Biggest Story on Earth? The answer, it turns out, is nothing. The Times has not run a single story about the al-Qaqaa story since November 1. Nada, bupkis, zilch.

For a piece at National Review Online, York called the Times' ombudsman - they call him the "Public Editor" - Daniel Okrent and asked him what he thought about it. Okrent showed admirable candor, allowing that the paper should have followed up. Assuming the story was accurate, Okrent thinks his paper could at least try to figure out the question of where the explosives went.

If the story was accurate, it should be important enough to follow up. If it wasn't, we should be told that."
Nope. No media bias here. Move along. Nothing to see. Or read the rest.

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