Yet the assessments can also be misleading, even embarrassing. Profiles of President Saddam Hussein of Iraq that circulated in the early 1990s suggested that he was ultimately a pragmatist who would give in under pressure.
Carey gives no explanation for why such an assessment would be misleading or embarrassing–as if it went without saying that this was a misreading of the Iraqi dictator. In fact, after Iraq invaded Kuwait, Hussein made repeated offers to negotiate a withdrawal–offers that were rejected by the elder Bush administration, and all but ignored by corporate media (Extra!, 11-12/90–see “Writing Off Negotiations”).
Hussein also destroyed his chemical and biological weapon stocks under pressure from the U.N.; when the younger Bush insisted that U.N. inspectors be allowed to verify his lack of unconventional weapons, Hussein let them in–and Bush invaded anyway. Though the U.N. inspection teams were a major story in the months before the Iraq War began, corporate media sometimes seem to forget that they existed (Action Alert, 12/2/08).
Presenting Saddam Hussein as a madman who could never be reasoned with obviously helped the U.S. government justify military action. Why journalists should accept this depiction in the face of the historic record–well, you might need a psychological profile to explain that.