The Lost Bill Kristol Tapes

Back in April, 2003 a friend of mine told me that, just after the war began, he’d seen William Kristol appear with Daniel Ellsberg on C-Span. He said Ellsberg had brought up the U.S. support for the 1963 and 1968 coups that brought Saddam Hussein to power, and Kristol appeared genuinely not to know about it.

Since then I’ve been trying to track the show down. There weren’t any transcripts and it didn’t seem to be in the C-Span archives. Only recently was I able to locate it, thanks to Kenneth Osgood of Florida Atlantic University, who pointed me to a dusty little corner of the C-Span store.

While watching it, I realized Kristol had performed at a superhuman level. At normal times he is, of course, one of the wrongest people on earth. Yet I’d never seen him be wrong quite like this. So I wrote a long, long piece about it. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done about politics, so I hope you have a chance to check it out and perhaps go over to my site here to comment.


The Lost Kristol Tapes
What the New York Times Bought

By Jonathan Schwarz

Imagine that there were a Beatles record only a few people knew existed. And imagine you got the chance to listen to it, and as you did, your excitement grew, note by note. You realized it wasn’t merely as good as Rubber Soul, or Revolver, or Sgt. Pepper’s. It was much, much better. And now, imagine how badly you’d want to tell other Beatles fans all about it.

That’s how I feel for my fellow William Kristol fans. You loved it when Bill said invading Iraq was going to have “terrifically good effects throughout the Middle East”? You have the original recording of him explaining the war would make us “respected around the world” and his classic statement that there’s “almost no evidence” of Iraq experiencing Sunni-Shia conflict? Well, I’ve got something that will blow your mind!

I’m talking about Kristol’s two-hour appearance on C-Span’s Washington Journal on March 28, 2003, just nine days after the President launched his invasion of Iraq. No one remembers it today. You can’t even fish it out of LexisNexis. It’s not there. Yet it’s a masterpiece, a double album of smarm, horrifying ignorance, and bald-faced deceit. While you’ve heard him play those instruments before, he never again reached such heights. It’s a performance for the history books — particularly that chapter about how the American Empire collapsed.

So, sit back, relax, and let me play a little of it for you.

The rest.

The C-Span page tells you how many times the segment’s been watched. When I first checked, the number was one. By this time yesterday, it had risen to four. All three additional viewing were me.