Feb 1 2013

A Familiar Script on Syrian WMDs

Official claims once more treated as facts


Anonymous government sources speaking to the New York Times, along with intelligence based on satellite imagery, tell a frightening story: The brutal leader of an unfriendly Arab country is preparing to unleash chemical weapons. Sound familiar? There are significant differences between the allegations about Syria’s WMDs today and Iraq’s nonexistent weapons in 2003. But the similarities are notable for what they reveal—not about U.S. foreign policy plans, but about the corporate media’s ability to churn out a stream of alarmist coverage based on the thinnest of evidence. Now, as then, the New York Times drove the initial storyline. On December […]

Apr 1 2008

‘Sexed Up’ After All

Scant U.S. interest in proof of Blair's Iraq hype

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/World Economic Forum

A key document in making Britain’s case for attacking Iraq, the so-called “September Dossier” (9/02), was initially drafted by a press advisor in then-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Foreign Office, according to stories in the British press. Furthermore, the differences between the early draft and the published dossier indicate that caveats were removed and language strengthened (Independent, 2/19/08; Guardian, 2/18/08) to make a stronger argument for war—factors that give credence to claims, once dismissed, that the dossier had been “sexed up,” and that Tony Blair, in the words of former U.N. weapons inspections chief Hans Blix (Associated Press, 3/12/07), had a […]

Mar 1 2008

Saddam’s ‘Secret’

Hussein told CBS about WMDs--but CBS wasn't watching

Of all the strange stories to come out of the media’s debacle in Iraq, one of the most Orwellian is the fable in which Saddam Hussein tricked America into invading Iraq by making us believe that he had weapons of mass destruction (Extra!, 1-2/04, 5-6/04). Of all the lies, hypocrisies and half-truths of this war, this one may be the most extravagant: a falsehood whose speciousness doesn’t even require any checking–at least for anyone whose memory goes back earlier than March 2003. The latest incarnation of this story appeared in January, when CBS‘s 60 Minutes (1/27/08) aired an interview with […]

Mar 1 2008

WMD Mirages

The mainstream media’s certainty that unconventional weapons would be found in Iraq led them to issue an embarrassing series of false alarms

“In our view, President Bush has built a strong case for the invasion of Iraq, a case that will be overwhelming with the inevitable discovery of the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein is hiding.” —Oregonian editorial (3/20/03) “HUGE CHEMICAL WEAPONS FACTORY FOUND IN SO IRAQ. . . . REPORTS: 30 IRAQIS SURRENDER AT CHEM WEAPONS PLANT. . . . COAL TROOPS HOLDING IRAQI IN CHARGE OF CHEM WEAPONS.” —Fox News Channel (3/23/03) “One important new discovery: U.S. officials say, up the road from Nasarijah, in a town called Najaf, they believe that they have captured a chemical weapons […]

Feb 1 2008

The ‘Great Mystery’ of Iraq’s WMDs?

CBS ignores evidence from its own show

A January 27 report on CBS‘s 60 Minutes attempted to answer what CBS reporter Scott Pelley claimed was a key mystery of the Iraq War: Why didn’t Saddam Hussein tell the world he had no weapons of mass destruction, and thus avoid the U.S.-led invasion? But if Pelley had been watching his own network’s exclusive interview with Hussein on the eve of the war, he would have known that Hussein did exactly that. “For a man who drew America into two wars and countless military engagements, we never really knew what Saddam Hussein was thinking,” Pelley declared at the opening […]

Jul 16 2004

Ray McGovern on Senate intelligence report, Robert Greenwald on ‘Outfoxed’

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: the Senate Intelligence Committee report found that the intelligence about Iraq’s weapons programs was severely flawed. But is there more to this story than what we’ve been reading and hearing from the press corps? We’ll ask former CIA analyst Ray McGovern what he thinks of the media’s handing of the intelligence debacle. Also this week, a new documentary alleges that the Fox News Channel favors conservatives and the Bush White House. What kind of evidence do they present, and what does Fox have to say about it? We’ll ask Robert Greenwald, the producer of […]

Apr 1 2004

Invasion, One Year Later

Still no debate on Sunday morning

The Sunday morning interview shows on March 14 all devoted significant time to the one-year anniversary of the start of the invasion of Iraq. But viewers of these programs would have had a hard time finding a debate about the controversial decision to go to war. ABC‘s This Week with George Stephanopoulos featured an interview with Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was also the sole guest on Fox News Sunday. CBS‘s Face the Nation featured Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, with pro-war New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman sitting in on the questioning. Only NBC‘s Meet the Press showcased […]

Mar 12 2004

Bob Somerby on Kerry coverage, Susan Moeller on WMD study

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: barring any major disruptions, John Kerry will be the Democratic nominee for president. Bush campaign officials are getting to work on him early in an effort to “define” Kerry for the voters. So how have the media handled the charges against Kerry so far? CounterSpin will ask Bob Somerby of the Daily Howler website. And a brand new study from the University of Maryland’s Center for International and Security Studies gives U.S. news coverage of weapons of mass destruction low marks. CounterSpin will talk to the study’s author, University of Maryland journalism professor Susan […]