On this tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, both Joe Scarborough and Luke Russert attempted to do a bit of revisionist history on MSNBC -- and Salon's Alex Pareene did a fine job taking them apart for it.
Updated: Morning Joe and Luke Russert leave out some important context. Like how much MSNBC pushed for war
MSNBC today ran two very interesting segments addressing the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. In one, Luke Russert interviewed veteran NBC foreign correspondent Richard Engel on the state of Iraq today (spoiler: not great). In another, Joe Scarborough hosted a large panel to discus how the Iraq War happened and what went wrong.
The Russert segment is sort of bizarre, referring to “that big anniversary” and completely ignoring the reasons the Iraq War started. It concludes — after Engel explains how Iraq is once again in a sectarian civil war — with Russert essentially asserting the inevitability of a military strike against Iran, saying they could be “months” away from building nuclear weapons. [...]
Both of these segments show how incredibly little anyone learned from very recent history. [...]
In Scarborough’s version of the run-up to war, flag-waving with-us-or-against-us cheerleaders like him are essentially blameless, because everyone agreed that Iraq posed an existential threat. His questions for Isikoff and his cute little video package are designed to buttress that convenient perspective. When he repeats that the Washington Post and the New York Times were both making the case for war, he’s not wrong, but he’s also doing exactly what everyone in the press did back then: selectively reading only those pieces making that case and ignoring the many, many stories that poured cold water on every single claim made by advocates for invasion.
Go read the rest of the article, since there's much more there, but here's a bit more with a reminder of just what a nasty piece of work Scarborough was back when MSNBC first brought him on the air.
Much of the pre-Iraq journalism, good and bad, is easily accessible. What is harder to find is the pre-Iraq TV news conversation, which did just as much as Judy Miller to make being pro-war the Only Serious Position. MSNBC at the time decided to go full-on pro-war as a ratings strategy, and so it canceled a show by liberal peacenik Phil Donahue and hired a bunch of pro-war conservatives, including a former congressman named Joe Scarborough.
Joe Scarborough has a TV show because of his boundless enthusiasm for waging the Iraq War. This is what he sounded like, on the subject of people who opposed the war, in April of 2003:
The two commentators were gleeful as they skewered the news media and antiwar protesters in Hollywood.
”They are absolutely committing sedition, or treason,” one commentator, Michael Savage, said of the protesters one recent night.
His colleague, Joe Scarborough, responded: ”These leftist stooges for anti-American causes are always given a free pass. Isn’t it time to make them stand up and be counted for their views?”
That’s the problem with the “who could’ve possibly foreseen that this was all bullshit” stance: Lots of people saw that it was bullshit, and they were ridiculed and marginalized by people like Scarborough.
So yes, Joe Scarborough has noted, correctly, that some people were opportunistically for the war, and then opportunistically against it. Good for him. But he still has not acknowledged that lots of people were always against the war, that those people turned out to be correct, and that he himself and his network were not caught up in an unavoidable, tragic mistake, they were bullying cheerleaders for that mistake.
Here's the Russert clip, which he complained about not being included in its entirety in a tweet to Pareene. All he did is earn himself another smackdown in the Salon article.