Yet the main reason for Ritter’s fall from media prominence was not his less-than-impressive record on intelligence matters, which his supporters on the left were happy to ignore. Rather it was Ritter’s exposure as a sexual predator. In 2001, Ritter was arrested in a child sex sting operation. No stranger to conspiracy theories, Ritter blamed his arrest on a campaign to silence his criticism of the Iraq war. In 2010, Ritter was arrested a second time, this time for engaging in a sexually explicit online chat with an undercover police officer posing as a 15-year old girl. It’s a measure of Ritter’s twisted mind that he even came up with a self-justifying theory for his predations, suggesting that he knew he was talking with undercover police all along in the hopes of getting caught and getting help for his depression. As the Times helpfully points out, this does not square with the fact that he tried to flee the scene upon discovering that the minors he thought he was meeting turned out to be police.
It’s hard to see why a man who is prepared to make up a false identity in order to seek out underage children should be treated as a heroic truth teller. Yes, the failure to discover weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was a serious and damaging national security blunder, but there is no apparent reason why Ritter, with his contempt for inconvenient facts and his penchant for conspiracy theories, should be hailed for getting that right when he go so much else wrong.
Notwithstanding its attempt to rehabilitate the disgraced Ritter, the portrait that emerges in the Times is of a professional crank, a man so lost to his own delusions that he cannot distinguish fact from fiction. Ritter clearly remains driven, but his drive is not for truth but for vindication. It’s vindication that he does not deserve and it’s a shame that the Times, even if only in a small way, felt compelled to give it to him.
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