Salon.com Debuts New Approach With Attack on Bush Administration

July 7, 2008 - 7:30 PM

(CNSNews.com) - The liberal website Salon.com published a critical report Wednesday on the Bush administration's handling of pre-war intelligence, the first in a series of articles planned under the direction of Sidney Blumenthal, a former aide to President Bill Clinton.

The Salon.com report, which is hyped as "The new Pentagon papers," is written by retired Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, a former political-military analyst and 20-year Air Force veteran.

Kwiatkowski accuses political appointees in the Department of Defense, who she claims are allies of Vice President Dick Cheney, of carrying out a propaganda campaign to rush the country to war.

"The public storyline was a fear-peddling and confusing set of messages, designed to take the Congress and the country into a war of executive choice, a war based on false pretenses and a war that, one year later, Americans do not really understand," Kwiatkowski writes. "That is why I have gone public with my account."

The man behind Salon.com's aggressive new Washington bureau is Blumenthal, a former Washington Post reporter who went to work as a senior aide to Clinton. Blumenthal is overseeing the website's venture into expanded coverage of political and international news.

"This disturbing report from the Bush Pentagon, and others that will follow, are part of Salon's new emphasis - what we call 'Unintimidated News,' " Blumenthal said in a statement.

Salon.com, which is based in San Francisco, was founded in 1995 by David Talbot, who serves as its editor and chief executive. Talbot is a former editor for the San Francisco Examiner and the liberal Mother Jones magazine.

Despite being viewed by 3 million people each month and having 74,000 paid subscribers, the website has struggled financially and has a debt of more than $80 million, according a New York Times report in January.

Earlier this year, the company secured $800,000 in funding from Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner and Adobe Systems co-chairman John E. Warnock. The contributions helped create the Washington bureau headed by Blumenthal.

"This is all part of Salon ramping up its political coverage in a major way for the coming election," Talbot told the Times in January.

Fenton Communications, the public relations firm that has liberal activist group MoveOn.org as a client, is working on behalf of Salon.com. Fenton touted Kwiatkowski's report - "Ex Pentagon Officer Blows Whistle On Iraq War Propoganda [sic] Campaign" - in an e-mail blast Tuesday.

As part of its new approach, Salon.com will share content with the British newspaper The Guardian. The website also plans to play a major role in a progressive talk radio network, Air America, which will be launched soon.

The Republican National Committee was quick to rebut Salon.com's new approach. Spokeswoman Mary Ellen Grant questioned whether people would take the website seriously with Blumenthal overseeing news content.

"They're going to have a lot of trouble passing themselves off as a legitimate news organization with a former Clinton administration official heading up the Washington bureau," she said.

E-mail a news tip to Robert B. Bluey.

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