Do conservative columnists even believe what they write?

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Or is it more propaganda on behalf of the movement? A couple recent cases provide further proof that it's likely the latter.

First, as Media Matters noted, when the Philadelphia Inquirer's new favorite new columnist, John Yoo, wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal in 2004, he:

made assertions that were later revealed to be highly misleading or at odds with legal memos he had written during the Bush administration as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

In other words, spinning in the Journal, Yoo made statements about interrogation techniques; statements that were at odds with legal memos that he wrote as part of the Bush administration.

Which raises an interesting question: Did the Journal editors know Yoo was writing one thing in public about interrogation and pretty much counseling the opposite in public? Or perhaps more importantly, do the editors at the right-wing Journal even care that they paid writers to apparently purposefully mislead Journal readers? I have my doubts that Journal editors even care, mostly because they seem to see their job as advancing GOP talking points, and not necessarily engaging in authentic opinion journalism.

For the second case of conservative columnist purposefully playing dumb, let's turn to the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer. Think Progress has the details [emphasis added]:

On May 1, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer conceded in a column that waterboarding is torture. Krauthammer argued that torture is justifiable "under two circumstances" and that in those cases "you do what you have to do. And that includes waterboarding." But in an interview on Dennis Miller's radio show today, Krauthammer said that he didn't mean it when he wrote that waterboarding is torture:

Here's an idea. Why don't conservative pundits actually write what they mean. Or is that just considered to be an outdated approach to public debate?

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