With all the talk of the Iraq War winding down (never mind the ongoing violence, the U.S.troops still fighting, or the continuing U.S. casualties), filmmaker Michael Moore makesan important point about how the war started–specifically, that it happened not despite but because of the way the “liberal media” behaved:
But most importantly, they made this war (and its public support) happen because Bush & Co. had brilliantly conned the New York Times into running a bunch of phony front-page stories about how Saddam Hussein had all these “weapons of mass destruction.” The administration gleefully fed this false information not to Fox News or the Washington Times. They gave it to America’s leading liberal newspaper. They must have had a laugh riot each morning when they’d pick up the New York Times and read the nearly word-for-word scenarios and talking points that they had concocted in the vice president’s office.
I blame the New York Times more for this war than Bush. I expected Bush and Cheney to try and get away with what they did. But the Times–and the rest of the press–was supposed to STOP them by doing their job: Be a relentless watchdog of government and business–and then inform the public so we can take action.
Instead, the New York Times gave the Bush administration the cover they needed. They could–and did–say, “Hey, look, even the Times says Saddam has WMD!”
Indeed, as Moore makes clear, right-wing media weren’t the only ones backingthe Bush White House–MSNBC fired Phil Donahue for his anti-war views, while the ranks of media war boosters included Times editor Howell Raines, Times columnists Bill Keller and Nicholas Kristof (who attacked Moore for opposing the war), and New Yorker editor David Remnick. Few media reputations suffered as a result of supporting the Iraq War. The few who opposed it, on the hand, paidthe price.