Fresh Paint
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Pigs Flying Around Freely Now
Stories Pushed Aside in the March to War
Post Editors Say They Underplayed Skeptical Reports on WMDs

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 12, 2004; Page A01

Days before the Iraq war began, veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus put together a story questioning whether the Bush administration had proof that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction.

But he ran into resistance from the paper's editors, and his piece ran only after assistant managing editor Bob Woodward, who was researching a book about the drive toward war, "helped sell the story," Pincus recalled. "Without him, it would have had a tough time getting into the paper." Even so, the article was relegated to Page A17.
From August 2002 through the March 19, 2003, launch of the war, The Post ran more than 140 front-page stories that focused heavily on administration rhetoric against Iraq. Some examples: "Cheney Says Iraqi Strike Is Justified"; "War Cabinet Argues for Iraq Attack"; "Bush Tells United Nations It Must Stand Up to Hussein or U.S. Will"; "Bush Cites Urgent Iraqi Threat"; "Bush Tells Troops: Prepare for War."
Bush, Vice President Cheney and other administration officials had no problem commanding prime real estate in the paper, even when their warnings were repetitive. "We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power," DeYoung said. "If the president stands up and says something, we report what the president said." And if contrary arguments are put "in the eighth paragraph, where they're not on the front page, a lot of people don't read that far."
Holy shit! I never thought they'd admit it. Even if you have to register, you should read this. They still make themselves look pretty good, and it's all a little late for the thousands and thousands of dead. I just hope they take this new self-questioning spirit forward through the remaining days of this awful, awful nightmare that is the Bush administration.

And Exec. Editor Leonard Downie does get the final word in the article:
"People who were opposed to the war from the beginning and have been critical of the media's coverage in the period before the war have this belief that somehow the media should have crusaded against the war," Downie said. [ed. no... we just wanted what got reported to be accurate and unbiased, like if they were reporting a murder or something] "They have the mistaken impression that somehow if the media's coverage had been different, there wouldn't have been a war."
If they hadn't been giving Bush a free ride from even before he took office, maybe he might have figured he couldn't get away with it. A free press is our only check on a government gone wild.

Note: The author of this article was pretty much a media whore (and most likely remains so) throughout the whole thing. And, of course, not a word against "Steno" Sue Schmidt. But then the NYT never apologized for Judith Miller's role in acting as a mouthpiece for Chalabi.

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