The most trusted man in America has doubts about the war
The First Iraq War
Pre Iraq War (2)
APRIL 25, 2007: "Buying the War"
BILL MOYERS: Four years ago this spring the Bush administration took leave of reality and plunged our country into a war so poorly planned it soon turned into a disaster. The story of how high officials misled the country has been told. But they couldn't have done it on their own; they needed a compliant press, to pass on their propaganda as news and cheer them on.
Since then thousands of people have died, and many are dying to this day. Yet the story of how the media bought what the White House was selling has not been told in depth on television. As the war rages into its fifth year, we look back at those months leading up to the invasion, when our press largely surrendered its independence and skepticism to join with our government in marching to war.
Sidney Blumenthal/2007: Walter Lippmann had witnessed firsthand (during World War I) how the "manufacture of consent" had deranged democracy. But he did not hold those in government solely responsible. He also described how the press corps was carried away on the wave of patriotism and became self-censors, enforcers, and sheer propagandists. Their careerism, cynicism, and error made them destroyers of "liberty of opinion" and agents of intolerance, who subverted the American constitutional system of self-government. Even the great newspaper owners, he wrote, "believe that edification is more important than veracity. They believe it profoundly, violently, relentlessly. They preen themselves upon it. To patriotism, as they define it from day to day, all other considerations must yield. That is their pride. And yet what is this but one more among myriad examples of the doctrine that the end justifies the means? A more insidiously misleading rule of conduct was, I believe, never devised among men."
The behavior of the press corps under Bush revealed a corruption more in line with Lippmann's analysis than Upton Sinclair's, although Sinclair's stress on the primacy of vulgar economics had its play, too. Indeed, Bush administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, complained to the chief executive officers of major media corporations about reports and reporters, and the pressure fell down the chain of command like an anvil. Nearly every correspondent, producer, and commentator on every broadcast and cable network outlet was keenly aware of such interventions and adjusted accordingly. The cable network MSNBC's dismissal in February 2003, one month before the invasion of Iraq, of the popular Phil Donahue as host of a public affairs program that had raised skeptical questions about the rationale for the war was cautionary and symptomatic. An internal memo claimed that Donahue presented "a difficult public face for NBC in a time of war" while "at the same time our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity." For crass reasons, jingoism became a criterion for presentation of news.
But economics did not explain everything. In 2002, the conservative Fox News anchor Brit Hume, well aware of the scent of fear in the air, declared ABC News unpatriotic: "Over at ABC News, where the wearing of American flag lapel pins is banned, Peter Jennings [the news anchor] and his team have devoted far more time to the coverage of civilian casualties in Afghanistan than either of their broadcast network competitors."
Hume's attack reflected the general conservative argument that the press was a bastion of "liberal bias," and was thus untrustworthy and even potentially perfidious in the war on terror. A conservative columnist, Andrew Sullivan, who later became a disillusioned administration critic, articulated most clearly the right-wing dichotomy of domestic good-and-evil in the immediate aftermath of September 11. "The middle part of the country -- the great red zone that voted for Bush -- is clearly ready for war," he wrote. "The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead -- and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column."
Nieman Watchdog 2007
As the war in Iraq nears its fourth anniversary, and with no end in sight, Americans are owed explanations. The Senate Intelligence Committee has promised a report on whether the Bush administration misrepresented intelligence to justify the war against Iraq. An explanation is due also for how the U.S. press helped pave the way for war. An independent and thorough inquiry of pre-war press coverage would be a public service. Not least of the beneficiaries would be the press itself, which could be helped to understand its behavior and avoid a replay.
Better a study by outsiders than by insiders. Besides, journalism groups show no appetite for self-examination. Nor would a study by the press about the press have credibility. Now and then a news organization has published a mea culpa about its Iraq coverage, but isolated admissions of error are no substitute for comprehensive study.
The fundamental question: Why did the press as a whole fail to question sufficiently the administration’s case for war?
Q. Why did the Knight Ridder Washington Bureau’s “against-the grain reporting” during the build-up to war receive such “disappointing play,” in the words of its former bureau chief?
Q. Why did the press generally fail to pay more attention to the bureau’s ground-breaking coverage?
Q. Why, on the eve of war, did the Washington Post’s executive editor reject a story by Walter Pincus, its experienced and knowledgeable national security reporter, that questioned administration claims of hidden Iraqi weapons and why, when the editor reconsidered, the story ran on Page 17?
Q. Why did the Post, to the “dismay” of the paper’s ombudsman, bury in the back pages or miss stories that challenged the administration’s version of events? Or, as Pincus complained, why did Post editors go “through a whole phase in which they didn’t put things on the front page that would make a difference” while, from August 2002 to the start of the war in March 2003, did the Post, according to its press critic, Howard Kurtz, publish “more than 140 front-page stories that focused heavily on administration rhetoric against Iraq”?
Q. Why did Michael Massing’s critique of Iraq-war coverage, in the New York Review of Books, conclude that “The Post was not alone. The nearer the war drew, and the more determined the administration seemed to wage it, the less editors were willing to ask tough questions. The occasional critical stories that did appear were…tucked well out of sight.”
Q. Why did the New York Times and others parrot administration claims about Iraq’s acquisition of aluminum tubes for nuclear weapons when independent experts were readily available to debunk the claims?
Q. Why did the Times’s Thomas E. Friedman and other foreign affairs specialists, who should have known better, join the “let’s-go-to-war” chorus?
Q. Why was a report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace accusing the administration of misusing intelligence by misrepresenting and distorting it given two paragraphs in the Times and 700 words in the Post (but deep inside), with neither story citing the report’s reference to distorted and misrepresented intelligence?
Q. Why did Colin Powell’s pivotal presentation to the United Nations receive immediate and overwhelming press approval despite its evident weaknesses and even fabrications?
Q. Why did the British press, unlike its American counterpart, critically dissect the speech and regard it with scorn?
Q. Why did the Associated Press wait six months, when the body count began to rise, to distribute a major piece by AP’s Charles Hanley challenging Powell’s evidence and why did Hanley say how frustrating it had been until then to break through the self-censorship imposed by his editors on negative news about Iraq?
The shortcomings of Iraq coverage were not an aberration. Similar failure is a recurrent problem in times of national stress. The press was shamefully silent, for instance, when American citizens were removed from their homes and incarcerated solely because of their ancestry during World War II. Many in the press were cowed during McCarthyism’s heyday in the 1950s. Nor did the press dispute the case for the fact-challenged Gulf of Tonkin resolution that led to a greatly enlarged Vietnam war.
The press response to the build-up to the Iraq war simply is the latest manifestation of an underlying and ongoing reluctance to dissent from authority and prevailing opinion when emotions run high, especially on matters of war and peace, when the country most needs a questioning, vigorous press.
During the War
OPSEC is keeping potential adversaries from discovering critical Department of Defense information. As the name suggests, it protects U.S. operations — planned, in progress and those completed. Success depends on secrecy and surprise, so the military can accomplish the mission more quickly and with less risk. Enemies of freedom want this information, and they are not just after the military member to get it. They want you, the family member.
Sig Christenson San Antonio Express/2007 in response to media criticism
Everybody knows there’s a war on in Iraq. What they don’t realize is there are actually four wars – the one to defeat insurgents and terrorists, another to win support for America’s occupation among a majority of Iraqis and yet a third for hearts and minds among the president’s supporters in the United States.
The fourth is a war for reporters and editors: It is to find and report the truth while staying alive to file another day in Iraq. If we lose this war, you lose, too. Instead of seeing Iraq as it is, you’ll see it the way someone with an agenda wants.
Amanda Becker | Prior Restraints | Quicklink | October 16, 2009
A revised policy for reporters embedded with the U.S. military command in eastern Afghanistan released Thursday retreats from a more stringent version imposed last month, the Washington Post reports.
Last week, the Reporters Committee reported that the agreement journalists must sign in order to embed with a military unit had been changed to state that "media will not be allowed to photograph or record video of U.S. personnel killed in action."
The revised policy released Thursday states that "media will not be prohibited from viewing or filming casualties; however, casualty photographs showing recognizable face, nametag or other identifying feature or item will not be published."
Wikipedia: Plot of Movie "Three Kings" starring George Clooney
Major Archie Gates, a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier, is trading sex for stories with a journalist, Cathy Daitch when he is interrupted by Adriana Cruz, the television reporter he is assigned to escort.