Jeff Leen, the Washington Post’s assistant managing editor for investigations, begins his renewed attack on the late Gary Webb’s Contra-cocaine reporting with a falsehood.

Leen insists that there is a journalism dictum that “an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof.” But Leen must know that it is not true. Many extraordinary claims, such as assertions in 2002-03 that Iraq was hiding arsenals of WMDs, were published as flat-fact without “extraordinary proof” or any real evidence at all, including by Leen’s colleagues at the Washington Post.

A different rule actually governs American journalism — that journalists need “extraordinary proof” if a story puts the U.S. government or an “ally” in a negative light but pretty much anything goes when criticizing an “enemy.”

If, for instance, the Post wanted to accuse the Syrian government of killing civilians with Sarin gas or blame Russian-backed rebels for the shoot-down of a civilian airliner over Ukraine, any scraps of proof — no matter how dubious — would be good enough (as was the actual case in 2013 and 2014, respectively).

However, if new evidence undercut those suspicions and shifted the blame to people on “the U.S. side” — say, the Syrian rebels and the Ukrainian government — then the standards of proof suddenly skyrocket beyond reach. So what you get is not “responsible” journalism — as Leen tries to suggest — but hypocrisy and propaganda. One set of rules for the goose and another set for the gander. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog