Hayes makes exactly the crude argument I anticipated, explaining the Arab media's position on Iraq as such: "scores of journalists throughout the Arab world and Europe were on Saddam Hussein's payroll." As I pointed out in both earlier posts, even if it were true that Saddam lavished money on the Arab and world media - which it probably is in general but has not been proven with regard to specifics - it does not prove that people would not have taken the positions they did for principled or political reasons without the money; and it doesn't take into account the massive amount of Saudi and Kuwaiti money which permeates the Arab media and Arab politics, money which dwarfs the alleged "Iraqi payroll."
Hayes tries to beef up his story with an impressive-looking roster of quotes and "evidence." So let's take a closer look. Hayes quotes someone from the Kuwaiti Information Office (who should know something about covert financial payments to win political influence!), and Salameh Nimaat, a Jordanian journalist close to former Prime Minister Abd al Karim Kabariti, who is close to Kuwati, who has been making similar accusations about the Jordanian media for a decade. He quotes Iraqi opposition figures - no further comment needed. He quotes a decade old Wall Street Journal story. He quotes an anonymous Arab journalist. He quotes an anonymous Arab editor from a decade old Wall Street Journal story (I swear I'm not making this up!). And then he quotes a CIA report "obtained by the Weekly Standard" - doesn't anyone find it a bit odd, a bit unseemly, and possibly a bit illegal that so many government documents seem to end up in the hands of the Weekly Standard? And, finally, he quotes a "Pentagon trained Iraqi American working with coalition forces in Iraq" to the effect that Iraqi money went to American journalists too. In other words, as with other Hayes blockbusters, a lot of words really don't add up to much more than "a bunch of people who agree with me said the same thing."
I predicted that people like Hayes would use these documents - real or not - to settle political scores, or hold the threat of making such allegations over the head of political opponents. Settling scores? Hayes immediately goes after George Galloway and Jim McDermott, both of whom have been the subjects of Hayes hatchet jobs in the past. Threats? Here's his conclusion: "George Galloway most assuredly wasn't the only person lining his pockets by defending Saddam Hussein. Journalists and diplomats and businessmen have been doing it for years. Their stories will be told."
What a disgrace. Stephen Hayes makes parody obsolete.
Above all, I was really disappointed by one thing. Where's the part where Hayes "proves" that Saddam funneled the cash through al Qaeda? I really missed that part.. a very strange oversight for the Obsessed One!
UPDATE: Interesting. The Weekly Standard has a disclaimer at the end of the Hayes article explaining that it is a "corrected version." For an explanation, they say, go here. "Here" turns out to be a July 2003 item about Al Sharpton, Snoop Dogg.. and a response to the discrediting of Hayes's last Galloway hatchet job. But nothing about this story, or how or why it was changed. So I, lacking the interpretive skills of say, Stephen Hayes, remain unenlightened. But thanks for the heads-up!