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A Turning Point on Iraq

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While in Baghdad, ABC's Jake Tapper was working on a light feature about an Iraqi station's sitcom. While his cameras were rolling, word came that the manager of the entertainment division had been assassinated. That, of course, became the story.

It has been one of the capital's minor mysteries: Who would set up a Web site for the avowed purpose of getting NBC to fire David Gregory?

The person behind is Ian Schwartz, an 18-year-old college student in Baltimore.

Schwartz's political leanings can be divined from his other Web site, Expose the Left, which runs headlines such as: "AP Writes Yet Another Anti-War Story," "Al Franken Continues Tirade Against Cheney" and "Liberal Lie: Dick Durbins [sic] Claims He Supports Our Troops."

Schwartz says in an interview that "I generally have a distaste for the mainstream media." Asked why he singled out Gregory, Schwartz cites the White House correspondent's overly aggressive questioning over the Dick Cheney hunting accident and an appearance with Don Imus in which the radio host joked that Gregory must be drunk (later soberly denied by Gregory).

"I know it's his job to get answers," Schwartz says, but his online petition -- which he says was signed by 3,200 people -- was a way of "telling him to cool it. I'm just glad it got coverage."

"I didn't take it very seriously," Gregory says of the site, but he sees it as a sign of a broader phenomenon:

"What concerns me is that it's increasingly true that people are viewing the news and political coverage through their own ideological lens. It's wrong to mistake aggressive reporting for political bias. It's a mistake to ascribe motives to people who cover the White House day in and day out. People watch me in a briefing and draw a conclusion based on that. They won't even wait to see what I report."

Five days after acknowledging that it had misidentified a former Abu Ghraib prisoner as the hooded man on a box captured in an infamous photo, the New York Times ran a correction last week of its profile of Donna Fenton, a self-described Hurricane Katrina victim from Biloxi, Miss. After police charged Fenton with fraud and grand larceny, saying she had never lived in Biloxi, the paper said it "did not conduct adequate interviews or public record checks to verify Ms. Fenton's account."

Downing Street revisited? Check out this NYT story:

"During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

" 'Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning,' David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.

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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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