WashPost's Anne Gearan Cranks Out Puff Piece on 'Tough' Susan Rice

As I've noted before, Washington Post diplomatic correspondent Anne Gearan has demonstrated in the past a penchant for hagiographic coverage of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Well, yesterday Gearan turned her puffery to work for Susan Rice the outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations whose dutiful peddling of fallacious talking points after the 9/11 Benghazi attack ultimately doomed her nomination to succeed Clinton at Foggy Bottom.

Gearan devoted her 17 paragraphs story to explaining to readers of the June 6 Washington Post how "Rice, known for [her] toughness, has [her] work cut out for her" as the president's new national security advisor, a possible that does not require Senate confirmation. Apart from a brief reference to how Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) remain critical of her, the vast bulk of the story was strewn with glowing references to Rice, particularly from Democratic defenders (emphasis mine):


Susan E. Rice is almost universally described as tough. By her many friends, by her considerable critics, by anyone who ever competed against or alongside her on the basketball court.

President Obama’s choice to be his next national security adviser will need toughness to handle the grueling hours and strain of being his chief counselor on war, terrorism and foreign affairs. But she won’t have to do the one thing that no amount of toughness could probably help her accomplish — win confirmation from the Senate.

The White House job, which requires no Senate approval, was long seen as the backup plan for Rice, an Obama loyalist who, fairly or unfairly, became the administration figure most closely associated with the deaths of four Americans last year in Benghazi, Libya.

Rice’s erroneous televised claim that the Americans died as a result of a spontaneous protest that turned violent, instead of a planned terrorist assault, was enough to ensure that she could not win swift confirmation as secretary of state, if she could win it at all.

Faced with the certainty of a long Republican blockade, Rice withdrew her name from consideration for the Cabinet post, making way for John F. Kerry.

Former congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif.), a close friend of Rice’s, said it was a formative experience for the longtime diplomat.

“What she showed, and I know something about this, is that she could take a punch — a public punch,” Harman said. “It made her stronger personally, and it made her stronger politically.”

Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), who accused Rice of being part of a coverup after the Benghazi incident and were among her fiercest critics, said Wednesday that they would work with her but made clear that they have not buried their anger over the attack. McCain said in a Twitter message that he disagreed with Obama’s decision to appoint her, while Ayotte accused Rice of a “disservice to the nation.”

Both lawmakers are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and McCain is a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Rice will need to work closely with both panels — a behind-the-scenes skill that Thomas E. Donilon, the outgoing national security adviser, was said to have perfected.

Rice is in many ways Donilon’s opposite. She is blunt and sometimes abrasive where Donilon is Washington-lobbyist smooth, associates say. She is at heart an advocate, sometimes for unpopular causes, and is unafraid to take risks. Donilon is more cautious and most comfortable away from the spotlight.

Colleagues say the two share a reputation for exacting standards, particularly for themselves, and for being well-prepared.

[...]

“I think everybody understands Susan is a fierce champion for justice and human dignity, but she’s also mindful that we have to exercise our power wisely and deliberately,” Obama said Wednesday.

With the 48-year-old former point guard standing by, Obama joked that he sometimes plays basketball with Rice’s brother. Both are known to throw an elbow, he remarked. “It runs in the family.”

"If Anne Gearan ever gets tired of pretending to be an objective journalist, she might have a promising future in Hillary Clinton's PR shop," I wrote back in January. Five months later, all you need to change about that sentence is substitute Hillary Clinton for Susan Rice. It's pathetic as it is predictable, and Washington Post readers deserve better.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters