Monday, January 15, 2007

In a Critical Period, Media Must Do Its Job

In retrospect, there's no question the American media didn't do its job in the critical period leading up to Bush's war in Iraq. There were exceptions but the exceptions were drowned out by the drumbeat of war being organized by the White House. There is still an important need for the media to keep checking the facts and claims coming out of the Bush Administration. What we do not need are puff pieces like the one that 60 Minutes did Sunday night on President Bush. CBS should leave puff pieces to that Republican organ, Fox News and instead concentrate on real journalism instead of pictures of the Washington Monument from Bush's helicopter. Bush may be nothing but a big spoiled kid wanting to show off his backyard but that is a significant part of the problem with the Bush presidency. A skeptical eye is needed when examining Bush's new 'policy' of troop surge and the growing noise by his right wing friends who are calling for war in Iran.

The Knight Ridder Washington Bureau was one of the few news organizations before the war in Iraq that interviewed low level administration figures who were uneasy about what Bush and Cheney were claiming back in 2002; it's now the McClatchy Washington Bureau and here's a story by Mark Seibel (h/t to Talking Points Memo):
President Bush and his aides, explaining their reasons for sending more American troops to Iraq, are offering an incomplete, oversimplified and possibly untrue version of events there that raises new questions about the accuracy of the administration's statements about Iraq.

(snip)

The administration has continued to offer inaccurate information to Congress, the American people and sometimes to itself. The Iraq Study Group, in its December report, concluded, for example, that the U.S. military was systematically under-reporting the violence in Iraq in an effort to disguise policy failings. The group recommended that the military change its reporting system.

Whether many of the administration's statements about Iraq for nearly five years have been deliberately misleading or honest but gullible mistakes hasn't been determined. The Senate Intelligence Committee has yet to complete an investigation into the issue that was begun but stalled when Republicans controlled the committee.

On Thursday, frustration over the accuracy of administration statements on Iraq boiled over during Rice's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

"Madam Secretary," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., "I have supported you and the administration on the war, and I cannot continue to support the administration's position. I have not been told the truth over and over again by administration witnesses, and the American people have not been told the truth."

CBS and 60 Minutes should read the article before Bush gets us into a wider war.

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