Washington Post Kills Iraq Media Piece

On his Pressing Issues blog, journalist Greg Mitchell wrote that The Washington Post killed a piece about media failures in covering the Iraq War...

This video contains actual news clips of the "information" leading up to the Iraq war. Language may not be suitable for work.

On his Pressing Issues blog, journalist Greg Mitchell wrote that The Washington Post killed a piece about media failures in covering the Iraq War. The story, “Reviewing This Week’s Mea Culpas on Iraq: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” ran in full on The Nation’s website. Mitchell says that Post killed his piece because it didn’t offer sufficient “broader analytical points or insights,” and takes issue with the fact the Post instead published an article by Paul Farhi that claimed the media “didn’t fail.”

Here's an excerpt from Mitchell's "Reviewing This Week’s Mea Culpas on Iraq: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly":

Now let’s flash forward to this past two weeks, when Iraq (remember Iraq?) re-emerged in the news and opinion sections. But anyone who expected that hair shirts would come into fashion must have been sadly disappointed. The “mea culpas” would not be “maxima.” First, those who accepted some blame.

LIMITED HANGOUT STRATEGY David Frum, the former Bush speechwriter, wrote well over a thousand words at the Daily Beast describing multiple reasons for promoting the war before very briefly concluding, “Those of us who were involved—in whatever way—bear the responsibility.” While adding: “I could have set myself on fire in protest on the White House lawn and the war would have proceeded without me.” Jonathan Chait at New York offered regrets for backing the war but defended believing in Saddam’s WMD and recalled that “supporting the war was cool and a sign of seriousness.” And: “The people demanding apologies today will find themselves being asked to supply apologies of their own tomorrow.”

YOUNG AND DUMBER Ezra Klein apologized in a Bloomberg column, at great length, for supporting the war--when he was eighteen, and “young and dumb.” Charles P. Pierce at Esquire replied, “It is encouraging that he no longer believes in fairy tales.”

MEA (AND A LOT OF OTHERS) CULPA Stephen Hadley, Bush’s national security adviser, wrote at Foreign Policy: “It never occurred to me or anyone else I was working with, and no one from the intelligence community or anyplace else ever came in and said, ‘What if Saddam is doing all this deception because he actually got rid of the WMD and he doesn’t want the Iranians to know?’ Now, somebody should have asked that question. I should have asked that question. Nobody did.”

I never actually expected anyone from the media to apologize for "getting it wrong" on Iraq, but it was a bit heartening to hear those who did share their comments or apologies this year. It's quite a shame that The Washington Post didn't take advantage of the opportunity to do so.

I would like to point out that as far as the "mea culpas," Stephen Hadley, Bush's national security advisor, whom Mitchell quotes above as writing “It never occurred to me or anyone else I was working with, and no one from the intelligence community or anyplace else ever came in and said, ‘What if Saddam is doing all this deception because he actually got rid of the WMD and he doesn’t want the Iranians to know?’ Now, somebody should have asked that question. I should have asked that question. Nobody did.” In this news video clip, Colin Powell in February 2001 stated that Saddam Hussein did not have any WMDs, and that "He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors." In that same video, Condi Rice says basically the same thing in July of 2001.

Hadley's question wasn't asked because until someone decided that we were going to invade Iraq, the facts as everyone knew them were that Saddam's military was in a shambles, and indeed he did not want the Iranians to know that he was unable to protect his country from an invasion. Then just a very short while later, we're supposed to believe that some half-wit named Curveball -- who basically just wanted a green card -- was the guy who knew anything you wanted to know about Iraq. Especially if very specific questions were asked, no doubt. The Bush administration, and much of congress, then ignored warnings from German Federal Intelligence Service and the British Secret Intelligence Service questioning the authenticity of Curveball's claims.

So as long as some continue to peddle the lies even as they apologize or defend their prior statements and actions -- or like the Washington Post refuse to discuss what went wrong with the media's reporting on Iraq -- the war can't really be settled. If we can't ensure full, accurate, and impartial reporting in the media (I'm talking media here, not Fox News) how can we be certain that our nation won't be led to war in the very same way again in the future?

About Diane Sweet

Diane Sweet's picture
Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.

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