Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Oh Judy

Joseph A. Palermo writes a great post about Judith Miller's role in the run-up to war. From Huffington Post:
In their infamous September 8, 2002, above the fold, front-page story in the New York Times, "U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts" -- the same story that Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, and Dick Cheney cited in their appearances that Sunday morning on the political talk shows, the reporters Judith Miller and Michael Gordon offered the following tidbits:

"Senior administration officials insist that the dimensions, specifications, and numbers of the tubes Iraq sought to buy show that they were intended for the nuclear program."

"Although administration officials say they have no proof that Baghdad possesses the smallpox virus, intelligence sources say they cannot rule that out."

"Still, Mr. Hussein's dogged insistence on pursuing his nuclear ambitions, along with what defectors described in interviews as Iraq's push to improve and expand Baghdad's chemical and biological arsenals, have brought Iraq and the United States to the brink of war."

And who could ever forget the coup de grace?

"The first sign of a 'smoking gun,' they argue, may be a mushroom cloud."
This was journalistic malfeasance at its most dangerous. It's understandable that reporters bristle at criticism sometimes, but the stakes can be so high that when reporters (at The New York Times for crying out loud) basically endorse the position of the government in favor of a dubious war, no forgiveness is really possible.

The effect was amplified, of course, as the New York Times' bad reporting wound its way through the AP and other media outlets.

The maddening thing about a year or less after that was that bloggers on the national scene had explained the whole rotten mess, and the New York Times had issued an unusual "editors note" stating that things went wrong in the reporting. But that piece never really got picked up a lot around the country, so to this day you still have wingnuts walking around talking about how George W. Bush saved us from imminent destruction.

Too many conservatives make things up as it is. You can't have the media making things up, too. It was the most shameful period in American journalism in a hundred years, and people need to understand that. There's never been a real accounting for it. Judith Miller is just as culpable as Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest of them. So while we need to make our criticism of the press as precise as possible, they need to understand that, as an institution, they failed badly in 2002-2003, and are arguably still not doing a good job holding this administration accountable.

Look! Over there! A Democrat just sold a house and there was a burned out bulb in the garage! Oh, the humanity.

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