Original Headline Softened as Story Quietly Moved Overnight!
Incident Adds Yet More Questions About WaPo's Timid Coverage of News Critical to Bush Administration.
By Brad Friedman on 5/23/2005, 2:05pm PT  

A Washington Post article exposing the specific details of several pre-war doubts by Bush Administration aides and anlaysts in the lead-up to war ran on page A1 in the early Saturday editions of WaPo's Sunday paper. By Sunday morning, however, the story had its headlined softened and was subsequently buried on page A26.

The story, by WaPo staff writer Walter Pincus, details the doubts of the administration's own intelligence analysts concerning WMD, Munitions Plants and Saddam Hussein's Unmanned Aerial Vehicles program, all of which were widely trumpeted as justifications for going to war by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, and others within the administration during the build-up to the War on Iraq.

Pincus' Page 1 item, which originally ran in Saturday afternoon editions of the Sunday paper and on the front page of the WaPo website was headlined "More Evidence of Bush Aide's Doubts on Iraq --- Analysts Questioned Most Intelligence".

By Sunday, however, the article had been pushed back to page 26 with the softer headline, "Prewar Findings Worried Analysts".

The Washington Post has come under fire lately by critics decrying the lack of news coverage critical to the Bush Administraton. It was nearly two weeks before WaPo even mentioned the appearance of the "Downing Street Memo" which some have cited as a "smoking gun" demonstrating that George W. Bush lied to the American People and Congress during the build-up to war in Iraq. Several sources have called the information included in the memo as evidence of "an impeachable offense".

That memo, written in July 2002 --- a full eight months before going to war --- describes the Administration as already having decided to topple Hussein through military means and that the intelligence was being "fixed around the policy". Several days after 89 U.S. Congressmen sent an inquiry to Bush asking about the information in the memo, WaPo finally ran their first news item to mention the memo. On page 18.

A source at the Washington Post has commented that it's not unusual for stories to move off of page 1 between the Saturday and Sunday editions of the Sunday paper. Yet the move all the way back to page 26 and the softened headline certainly raises questions.

The Page 1 version of the story, originally linked to by the Internet news site RAW STORY early Saturday evening, retained the same URL on the WaPo website as the move was made and the headline and page number changed. The bulk of the article was unchanged as the move was made, though there were a couple of minor changes made to the text with little effect on the story itself.

The BRAD BLOG has contacted both Walter Pincus and his WaPo editor, Scott Vance, for comment and/or explanation for the move. We will update this item with additional information if and when we hear back from them.

(Thanks to Emailer David Griscom for the tip on this story!)

UPDATE: Looks like our friend Jesselee over at The Stakeholder was getting a similar scent on this story last night as we were looking into it as well. He has additional information on WaPo's burying of various Pincus articles as well as an admission/apology for same by WaPo editors last summer. Despite that self-flagellation nearly a year ago, it would seem that WaPo is still in the business of going easy on the Bush Administration.