Sunday, December 11, 2005

Friends in high places

Every so often, as with Dan Senor and Campbell Brown for example, one finds indications that the military-industrial complex really needs to be renamed the military-media complex. Hence this detail from the Sunday Times of London that we hadn't seen anywhere else. It concerns the revelation that the Pentagon has been using a PR firm, the Lincoln group, to plant fake news stories in the Iraqi media. The principal in the mystery is Christian Bailey, who as Frank Rich nicely summarises (behind subscription) in the New York Times:

Though the 30-year-old prime mover in the shadowy outfit, one Christian Bailey, fled from Andrea Mitchell of NBC News when she pursued him on camera in Washington, certain facts are proving not at all elusive.

Ms. Mitchell and other reporters have learned that Mr. Bailey has had at least four companies since 2002, most of them interlocking, short-lived and under phantom names. Government Executive magazine also discovered that Mr. Bailey "was a founder and active participant in Lead21," a Republican "fund-raising and networking operation" - which has since scrubbed his name from its Web site - and that he and a partner in his ventures once listed a business address identical to their Washington residence.

But wait, there's more. Does Frank know about the New York Times social connection?

[Sunday Times of London] The baby-faced Bailey has a reputation as a socialite with ties to young Republicans. He left Britain in 1999 to try his luck as a dotcom entrepreneur in California before heading to New York and then Washington.

In New York, Bailey quickly became known as a charming host. A friend said: “He was a very popular boy because he would always have fun people and beautiful, intelligent girls around. He was always very fashion-conscious.”

In 2003 Bailey was treasurer of The Oxonian Society in New York, a club for anglophiles, where the former prime minister John Major was recently guest of honour. Bailey is a licensed helicopter and aircraft pilot, who has hired planes and flown guests to elegant picnics on the beach.

He was tempted to leave New York, where he worked for a hedge fund, after being drawn to Washington’s social scene by a friend, Jennifer 8 (sic) Lee, 29, described by one newspaper as the latest “hostess with the mostest”.

That would be New York Times Metro desk reporter, Jennifer 8. Lee. Hopefully, in the post-July Miller era, she is telling her fellow reporters all she knows about the case. But if so, New York Times reporter Jeff Gerth doesn't see fit to mention it. Here's his entire profile of Bailey, also from today's NYT:

Before coming to Washington and setting up Lincoln in 2004, Christian Bailey, born in Britain and now 30, had worked briefly in California and New York.

Pick up your internal phone book, Jeff. Even with the middle name being a number, it's not so hard to look her up.

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