WSJ Correction: Allies Not “Roiled” After All

Reading Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, we are finding, requires some amount of Kremlinology. What is happening is visible for all to see; what is less apparent is why.

On this Cold War note, we point to a correction in this morning’s paper:

While a White House decision to drop plans for a missile-defense shield was attacked by some people and newspapers in Central Europe, the governments of Israel and of U.S. allies in Western and Central Europe were supportive. On Friday, a page-one headline with an article about the decision overstated the extent of the opposition, saying U.S. allies were “roiled….”

Today, the headline reads (my emphasis): Allies React to U.S. Missile U-Turn.

I don’t have the original headline.

A few things:

First and seriously, newspapers shouldn’t be mocked for making a correction, so, let’s applaud this exercise in transparency.

Second, it is true that there is no support in the story for the contention that allies were “roiled” by the missile-shield decision. Indeed, as the correction forthrightly notes, allies expressed nothing of the kind:

The governments of Poland and the Czech Republic said they accepted the change. “Canceling the radar by no means jeopardizes the security of the Czech Republic as the country is safely entrenched in NATO,” Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said.

Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, said he had secured assurances from Washington that the U.S. would honor a commitment to deploy Patriot missiles in Poland, made as part of the deal to host the shield. Patriots can be used to shoot down shorter-range rockets and aircraft.

Israel was unroiled:

In Israel, analysts and officials welcomed the administration’s move as a bid to push Moscow into taking a harder line on Iran.

Only an analyst was moderately roiled; John McCain was roiled; Lech Walesa, somewhere between roiled and irked, I’d say:

“It’s not that we need the shield, but it’s about the way we’re treated here,” Mr. Walesa said on Polish TV.

Third, the important question for WSJ and Audit readers is whether this is part of a larger story. As to that, I’m open for business.

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Dean Starkman Dean Starkman runs The Audit, CJR's business section, and is the author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism (Columbia University Press, January 2014). Follow Dean on Twitter: @deanstarkman.