Redemption For The Media
November 1, 2005 - 12:40pm ET
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There's no shortage of backward-looking analysis explaining how the press betrayed the public trust during the run-up to the Iraq war. And such finger-pointing is undeniably important. It helps us understand how so many were misled and hopefully prevents similar duping in the future, as Judith Miller and others are called out for their shoddy journalism. However, It's also refreshing to see someone issue a challenge to the media regarding its present coverage of matters related to Iraq, as Sydney Schanberg does in this week's Village Voice.
The core of the CIA leak case is the Iraq war. As the press goes about unraveling it, none of us should lose sight of whence it sprung. The war is why the case is important.
The special prosecutor must proceed, appropriately, to deal with the crimes he has cited so far in the case—perjury, obstruction, false witness. But the press has a different job ahead: to probe deeper into and explain how these charged felonies were the direct offspring of the Bush administration's attempt to cover up falsehoods and distortions it told the American public and Congress to scare them into supporting the war. The press's obligation to the public now is to aggressively revisit and brush the cobwebs from those lies, while people are paying better attention than they did during President Bush's selling of the war. [emphasis mine]
I think there are some initial signs that the press is taking more seriously the evidence that the White House "fixed the facts" to suit its policy of pre-emptive war against Iraq. I've even seen mainstream outlets use just that phrasing, which TomPaine.com readers know originated in the Downing Street Memo. So, now that the Fitzgerald investigation has uncovered more proof of the Bush administration's single-minded obsession with hyping the WMD threat, will the media report it? We're watching. And reading. And listening.
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