When the Washington Post hired conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin in November 2010, editorial page editor Fred Hiatt promised she would "provide critical news coverage and commentary" with "fresh perspective and insightful reporting to our readers." That insight and perspective was sorely lacking when it came to Rubin's coverage of the recent horrific attacks in Norway.
In a post at 5:06pm ET on Friday, Rubin quoted from a Weekly Standard post by Thomas Joscelyn in which he wrote that the attack was "in all likelihood ... launched by part of the jihadist hydra." Rubin then wrote:
Moreover, there is a specific jihadist connection here: "Just nine days ago, Norwegian authorities filed charges against Mullah Krekar, an infamous al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist who, with help from Osama bin Laden, founded Ansar al Islam -- a branch of al Qaeda in northern Iraq -- in late 2001."
But Rubin wasn't done, as she went on to attack President Obama and "irresponsible lawmakers on both sides of the aisle" for allegedly being soft on Al Qaeda:
This is a sobering reminder for those who think it's too expensive to wage a war against jihadists. I spoke to Gary Schmitt of the American Enterprise Institute, who has been critical of proposed cuts in defense and of President Obama's Afghanistan withdrawal plan. "There has been a lot of talk over the past few months on how we've got al-Qaeda on the run and, compared with what it once was, it's become a rump organization. But as the attack in Oslo reminds us, there are plenty of al-Qaeda allies still operating. No doubt cutting the head off a snake is important; the problem is, we're dealing with global nest of snakes."
Some irresponsible lawmakers on both sides of the aisle -- I will point the finger at Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee and yet backed the Gang of Six scheme to cut $800 billion from defense -- would have us believe that enormous defense cuts would not affect our national security. Obama would have us believe that al-Qaeda is almost caput and that we can wrap up things in Afghanistan. All of these are rationalizations for doing something very rash, namely curbing our ability to defend the United States and our allies in a very dangerous world.
At 7:17pm ET, Rubin tweeted a link to her post and wrote, "Norway bombing and why we shouldn't slash defense- IT IS A DANGEROUS WORLD."
But Rubin jumped the gun. The Washington Post -- like numerous others -- are now reporting that the "Norwegian man taken into custody, whom Norwegian media identified as Anders Behring Breivik, has admitted to firing the weapons, police chief Sveinung Sponheim told reporters Saturday. Police officials have described the man as a right-wing Christian fundamentalist, a member of a small, largely Internet-based community that has been quiet in recent years."
At The Atlantic, James Fallows correctly writes that the Post "owes the world an apology" for the Rubin item, adding that "this is a sobering reminder for those who think it's too tedious to reserve judgment about horrifying events rather than instantly turning them into talking points for pre-conceived views."
As of this posting, Rubin has yet to correct her post or acknowledge the new developments. Her last blog post was at 9:07pm last night about the debt negotiations.
UPDATE: Rubin wrote a new blog post about Norway on Saturday night here.
Rubin's July 22 blog post as of posting time: