If you logged onto the Guardian website last night you would have seen the top, leading story of the day was the Pentagon’s Paul Wolfowitz admitting that, yep, the Iraq war was indeed all about oil.
Oil was the main reason for military action against Iraq, a leading White House hawk has claimed, confirming the worst fears of those opposed to the US-led war. The US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz – who has already undermined Tony Blair’s position over weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by describing them as a “bureaucratic” excuse for war – has now gone further by claiming the real motive was that Iraq is “swimming” in oil.
Hot story no? Stop the presses, its a scoop, all your mates will be talking about this one in the morning. So why wasn’t it front page lead in the paper this morning? Indeed why wasn’t it in the paper at all?
The slight problem was it was complete bollocks.
Wolfowitz said nothing of the sort as a read of the official transcript of the relevant press conference would reveal. The blog Belgravia Dispatch had done the full works on the Guardian piece, Instapundit had picked it up and anyone with half an eye on the blogosphere knew the story was at the very best ‘sexed-up’ to use the phrase of the moment.
Now we don’t need some New York Times agonising about this but surely the Guardian could offer an explanation of why they pulled this story? Log onto the URL of the old story and you simply get told this.
Sorry Guardian, this isn’t good enough.
If you use the words of a senior US administration figure in order to embarass the Prime Minister of our country on a topic of major political significance and it turns out you have offered simply a shoddy piece of misrepresentation then an online correction is the least you can do isn’t it?
It makes not the slightest difference that the story was on the website and not paper. The story is still circulating on Islamic websites and other media and you can bet the next time the US gets close to military action, those misquotes will be appearing all over the Internet.
But then I suspect that might be exactly what the journalist who wrote the piece was hoping for wasn’t it?
(I loved the line that Wolfowitz’s ‘admission’ was “confirming the worst fears of those opposed to the US-led war” – you must be joking. What ‘fears’? They have been telling us it was all about oil for a year now. If he had confirmed that, the anti-war crowd would have been cracking open the champagne.)
This is the second time this week that the Guardian has had to back down after one of its Iraq war reports proved to be wrong.
Sexed-up? This is Viagra-spin.