October 31, 2003

THE CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY is suffering some major credibility blows, as Daniel Drezner and Steven Antler point out that it’s hyping a report on Iraq reconstruction contracts that doesn’t really say anything. Drezner: “The Center for Public Integrity wants to claim that there’s a fire here. Looking over their numbers, I’m not even convinced there’s any smoke.”

Read this, too:

I would say this isn’t worth anyone’s time, except it appears to document many contracts awarded to smaller, politically inactive, non-well-connected companies. It presents — unintentionally, one might guess — considerable evidence contradicting its central contention.

To coin a phrase, it shouldn’t take a blogger to point stuff like this out.

But it does. Shouldn’t the press be embarrassed to have missed this? And shouldn’t the Center for Public Integrity be a bit embarrassed to be advancing such a weak claim amid such hype?

UPDATE: Stuart Buck has further criticism. To be fair to the CPI, though, conflating individual donations with donations from their employers is common, and not necessarily unjustified, as it’s often expected that people will make these donations as part of their jobs. That doesn’t excuse the CPI for claiming a lot more than it proved, or the allegedly-skeptical media for not looking into it.