In Friday’s Crikey editorial, we quoted from a sneak preview of the January issue of Vanity Fair magazine which promised a parade of leading neo-cons talking about the failure of Iraq and the Bush administration. But hold on. Some of the key neo-cons trumpeted by Vanity Fair have now retaliated, labelling it a “pre-election hit job” and claiming they have been misquoted.

Most of these commentators don’t have a problem with the author of the report, David Rose, a British journalist “well known as a critic of the Saddam Hussein regime and supporter of the Iraq war.” It’s the editors of Vanity Fair that they accuse of twisting Rose’s well-thought-out discussion using excerpts to misrepresent their comments.

National Review Online has pulled together the protestations of commentators including David Frum, Eliot Cohen, Frank Gaffney, Michael Ledeen and Richard Perle.

David Frum writes: There has been a lot of talk this season about deceptive campaign ads, but the most dishonest document I have seen is this press release from Vanity Fair, highlighted on the Drudge Report. Headlined “Now They Tell Us,” it purports to offer an “exclusive” access to “remorseful” former supporters of the Iraq war who will now “play the blame game” with “shocking frankness.”…Rose has earned a reputation as a truth teller. The same unfortunately cannot be said for the editors and publicists at Vanity Fair. They have repackaged truths that a war-fighting country needs to hear into lies intended to achieve a shabby partisan purpose.

Richard Perle writes: Vanity Fair has rushed to publish a few sound bites from a lengthy discussion with David Rose. Concerned that anything I might say could be used to influence the public debate on Iraq just prior to Tuesday’s election, I had been promised that my remarks would not be published before the election. I should have known better than to trust the editors at Vanity Fair who lied to me and to others who spoke with Mr Rose. Moreover, in condensing and characterizing my views for their own partisan political purposes, they have distorted my opinion about the situation in Iraq and what I believe to be in the best interest of our country.

Michael Rubin writes: Some people interviewed for the piece are annoyed because they granted interviews on the condition that the article not appear before the election. Vanity Fair is spinning a series of long interviews detailing the introspection and debate that occurs among responsible policymakers every day into a pre-election hit job. Who doesn’t constantly question and reassess?

Frank Gaffney writes: In the annals of political dirty tricks, last weekend’s bait-and-switch caper perpetrated by Vanity Fair will probably be but a footnote. Still, the magazine deserves contempt for having made promises it had no intention of honoring, promises about facilitating a serious discussion of President Bush’s efforts to fight our Islamofascist foes in Iraq and elsewhere by some of the most adamant supporters of those efforts. None of us who responded candidly on the basis of such promises to thoughtful questions posed by reporter David Rose would likely have done so had the magazine’s true and nakedly partisan purpose been revealed.

It seems the death of party politics in America has been exaggerated. 

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey